RELIGION IN POP CULTURE

“Always Running and How Theology Deals with Zombies” by Dr Bill Anderson

This presentation takes a multifaceted approach to critically analyzing Sherwood’s song “Always Running” specifically and more broadly to the subject of zombies. It will begin by outlining its hermeneutical program—including a respect for Authorial Intent, Death of the Author (Barthes) and Author-Focused or Auteur (Lynch)—culminating in a theological reading of zombie culture. This theological reading draws analogies with the Fall in the Garden of Eden, Original Sin and subsequent fallout. It examines the “existential angst” in Always Running—reflected in the song’s music, themes and ideas—as per the Doctrine of Ethos and Theology. This presentation concludes that Jesus is the Answer to all the questions, problems and issues of zombie culture which leads to a “glorious resurrection”.

“From Holy Grail to The Lost Gospel: Margaret Starbird and the Mary Magdalene Romance” by Dr Mary Ann Beavis

Although her work is little known to academic biblical scholars, the writings of Margaret Starbird have been, and continue to be, very influential in informing popular understandings of Mary Magdalene, including her portrayal as Jesus’ wife in The Da Vinci Code, and most recently in Simcha Jacobovici’s and Barrie Wilson’s The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Secret Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary Magdalene (2014). Despite Starbird’s key role in shaping popular ideas about the Magdalene, her immensely popular writings are little known to biblical scholars. This paper will trace the influence of Starbird’s books on the reception history of the Magdalene since the publication of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (1993), particularly in shaping the modern legend of the romance between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, especially as developed in The Da Vinci Code. Additionally, the paper will evaluate Starbird’s key claims and interpretations of the biblical and extra-biblical evidence, both appreciatively and critically, from the perspective of a professional biblical scholar. Particular reference will be made to Starbird’s skepticism about the traditional association of Mary with the town of Migdal/Magdala, her Miriamic interpretation of Micah 4:8, her use of gematria to decipher the Magdalene in John 21:11, her conflation of Mary of Bethany with Mary Magdalene, her use of medieval French hagiography, and her recourse to Cathar doctrine.

“Religion in the Walking Dead” by Brianna Bennett

This research project examines theological themes and imagery in Robert Kirkman’s AMC series The Walking Dead.The primary methodology used a comparative literature approach in regards to The Walking Dead and religion. It also examined key themes and imagery in relation to sociology and religion, and psychology and religion. This study demonstrates how The Walking Dead can be analyzed with both the sociological and psychological perspectives. Sociologically because there is an impact individuals have on each other, either positive or negative and psychologically because there are individual situations. The Walking Dead is about survival in a zombie apocalypse, fighting off walkers, fighting off other humans, searching for food and safety. The main group of individuals that I analyze are Rick and his gang, they are a family and go through many horrible situations together. This series has many complex characters and themes that help express aspects of religion like the devote Christian Herschel Greene and Father Gabriel. This paper talks about how prevalent zombie culture is in our modern society and how The Walking Dead expresses our present society’s issues.

“Sacred Viewing of “The Lord of the Rings” and Folk Christmas Carols on the Maidan” by Ms Nataliya Bezborodova

Moments of conflict generates lore and symbolic expressions, and the Maidan protest is no exception. Among the most popular YouTube videos shared by Ukrainian Facebook-users before Christmas 2013 were a re-created trailer of “The Lord of the Rings” with video fragments of the protests inserted, and a cartoon with the Ukrainian Christmas carol “Shchedryk” performed by a Ukrainian rock-singer who had supported the protests.

Symbolic images of Good and Evil battle embodied in “The Lord of the Rings” characters were projected on protestors and their opponents on the Maidan, and then reproduced through linguistic means to reveal “them and us” attitude. Ukrainian Christmas Carol “Shchedryk” is one of the most popular and known vernacular carols traditionally performed during Christmas celebration in contemporary Church and private life. “Shchedryk” melody is also known as Carol of the Bells. Oleg Skrypka, a known Ukrainian rock-singer, performed the cartoon “Shchedryk” and Le Grand Orchestra accompanied the performance. The cartoon was recorded two years prior to Ukrainian protests winter 2013-2014, although it was widely shared in social media during the Maidan as an embodied symbol of the conflict resolution.
The samples of traditional folk and pop-culture with religious elements became mediators of the protestors’ hopes, fears and expectations for as the situation unfolded. The paper will trace symbols of protest lore and “them and us” distinction of imagination through elements of religion and pop culture.

“A Progression of Faith in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” by Mrs Melissa Buck

This presentation will discusses religion in video games. Namely why it makes the game more enjoyable, what it has to say about our society and why it is present within the game. I will be using the game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as a case study with respect to these ideas. Although Uncharted 2 is far from being a Christian game, the game does present supernatural elements. It also demonstrates a journey of faith for the main character, Drake. However, Drake’s journey is based off of another man’s faith. Because Karl Schafer believed in the supernatural, Drake was willing to risk his life. However, this eventually leads to a more substantial faith: Drake comes to believe in something greater than himself.
From a Christian perspective, the journey of faith usually leads to the belief in the Christian God based in supporting doctrine. It can be based on facts (archaeological and historical) as well as on experience. This paper argues that religion in video games may “open” the door to Christian Faith.

Religion in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus by Sarah Cameron

This research project compares theological themes and imagery in the film Prometheus (2012), directed by Ridley Scott. It will be mostly comprised of comparative literature methodology with Genesis 1-11. This study will attempt to answer the following questions: How does the film compare to the Bible, specifically to events in the book of Genesis? What connections are made between various characters in the film and in the Bible? How does the film reflect human weakness and sin? How does the film exemplify what it means to be human?

“God’s Own Wind: Sherlock Holmes as Conan Doyle’s, and Modernity’s, Post-Christian Search for Meaning” by Mr Brett Graham Fawcett

Doyle’s contemporary, G.K. Chesterton, diagnosed the creation of Sherlock Holmes as Doyle’s own attempt to reach a kind of epistemological certainty about the world, a way of coping with the loss of his childhood Catholicism.  Holmes’ popularity in Victorian England was fuelled by a Whiggish hopefulness about the conquest of science and civilization across the world, but he also represented certainty in a post-Darwinian era of religious confusion.  Lutheran theologian and apologist John Warwick Montgomery analyzes the Holmes canon as a “myth” (in the Lewis/Tolkien sense) depicting a coherent universe navigable by reason (a popular embodiment of the ancient Logos theology); even Holmes’ “resurrection” represents a surmounting of the existential conundrum of death, which Doyle in real life confronted by embracing seances and spiritualism, all the while insisting that spiritualism was backed up by hard science.  This paper will argue that resurgence of Holmes in pop culture is a similar response to a similar combination of scientific optimism and cultural malaise and proposes that Chesterton’s response at the time can serve as a model for a Christian response in our day.

“Ancient Near Eastern Religions in Dungeons & Dragons” by Jeffry Gabert

Ancient Near-Eastern mythology contains many powerful, awe-inspiring heroes and deities that help define their religions and societies. The primary methodology for this presentation is comparative literature. From the heroic and tragic tale of Gilgamesh, to Marduk’s triumphant victory over the chaos of Tiamat. Even today, the mysterious, incomplete myths and legends stimulate our own curiosity and creativity. These myths cater to our need for imagination and give us an immersive and more spectacular experience when delving into fantasy worlds. Gods of war and destruction, of love and fertility, and of death and life, are irresistible to a fantasy writer. It is no wonder that so many modern fantasy settings for books, movies and games have found basis among them. There is one particular game that stands out in their use and representation of these myths: Dungeons and Dragons. Being the forefather to almost all fantasy video games and the foundation of many fantasy stories, D&D is the perfect basis to judge modern society’s infatuation with ancient mythology.

“Religion, Violence and the Other in American Sniper” by Mr Michael Eric Gillingham

American Sniper, a popular and controversial film directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the memoir of Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle.  In Kyle’s book and Eastwood’s movie version, questions about religion and violence are set in the context of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Kyle presents himself as a Christian man of faith who is only doing his duty to God, family and country as he becomes one of the most successful snipers in US military history.  Kyle’s presentation of his love for violence and for killing, however, troubles and complicates this narrative.  His complete disregard for the humanity of the Iraqi people is also troubling.  In my paper, I will spend some time briefly summarizing the book and the film.  I will refer to some of the public controversy related to the film, which seemed to divide critics and audiences along politically partisan lines in the United States.  In particular, critics have noted that the book and film are overly focused on the experience of American soldiers in combat with little thought given to the experience of the invaded Iraqis.  I will then situate Kyle’s story in book and film in the context of the work of Rene Girard and Emmanuel Levinas.  Girard’s concerns about religion and violence and Levinas’ concerns about the Other raise deeper questions about both the book and the film and its public reception.  While some would argue that the film helps Americans to consider the cost of their military interventions paid by veterans and their families, the larger questions about the moral good of the same military interventions remain unasked.

“Religion in Tomb Raider” by Ms Brittany Hinton

This presentation focuses on religious elements from multiple religions, in the Tomb Raider series. Tomb Raider is a video game series that follows the adventures of the Lara Croft. She is a British archeologist in search of ancient treasures and encounters many struggles along the way. The success of the game series has resulted in book, comics, and movies.

“When the Machines Take Over… Or Have They Already?” by Mr Adam Lloyd Johnson

By tapping into our latent anxieties, Hollywood knows just how to create movies that give us exciting thrill rides. Several movie franchises have been built around the idea of machines taking over. In this paper I argue that there’s a sense in which machines have already taken over the world. Machines have already destroyed mankind, and in a way that is much more frightening than any Hollywood movie. I’m actually talking about a machine philosophy that has overtaken the world, a philosophy that views human beings as mere machines. This is scarier than The Terminator or The Matrix because this man-is-machine philosophy doesn’t destroy us physically, it does something worse; it destroys what it means to be human, it destroys the essence of what mankind is. Some have argued that this man-is-machine philosophy was the root cause behind the carnage we experienced in the 20th century – WWI, WWII, Nazism, Communism, etc.

In fact, this idea is so frightening that Hollywood can’t even deal with it. Using quotes from the movies themselves, I show how several movie franchises, famous for portraying machines as amoral, ruthless, and unable to love, have re-cast machines in, what I believe, is an attempt to calm our fears. The gripping fear I’m referring to is the fear that since science has taught us we’re nothing more than machines, we too must be amoral, ruthless, and unable to love. I argue that Hollywood’s attempt here, which only reflects what’s going on in our overall culture, fails because it is irrational; if humans are only biological machines produced by accidental random evolution, then love cannot be real no matter how much we wish it to be so. I argue that instead, Christianity provides a much more rational explanation for our intuitive belief that love is real.

“”I Pulled into Nazareth”:  Religion and the Counter Culture in the New American Cinema” by Professor Norman Knowles

This paper examines the role and representation of religion in the counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s as portrayed in the New American Cinema.  Much has been written on how the New American Cinema reflected the angst and idealism of youth seeking liberation from established institutions and values through the creation of alternative communities and ideals.  Relatively little attention has been given to the spiritual and religious dimensions of this quest, however.  A close examination of the New American Cinema, including such popular films as ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ reveals the depth and persistence of spiritual longing and religious values among counter-culture youth.   While both films were widely condemned from the pulpit at the time of their release, they foreshadowed significant changes within America’s religious landscape as some churches and religious leaders later attempted to appropriate elements of popular culture in order to reach out to youth and the counter-culture generation.

“Religious Themes in Ridley Scott’s Movies and Their Impact on Our Society and the Christian Faith” by Mr Jonathan Krauss

This presentation we will analyze some religious themes and ideas in the movies of Ridley Scott. We will try to learn how they can impact us in our understanding of religion, faith and opinion. We learn to find and understand the unspoken messages in films which try to influence us without having an opportunity to reflect on their messages in all of their diversity. Ridley Scott’s messages are not just ethical but religious too. Samples from Ridley Scott’s films are used because he reveals religious themes and ideas in many places in his films and because his films are influential to a wide audience of millions of people.

The method of this presentation is to show some short specific film sequences and to explain how they can change our opinions of religion and relate to the Christian Faith. The purpose of this presentation is to help the people open their eyes to recognize how films can influence our religious opinions–in both a positive and a negative ways.

“Religion in Breaking Bad” by Ms Chanda Laube

This presentation is based on the AMC television series Breaking Bad. This presentation will compare on contrast the ideas of religion with in Breaking BadBreaking Bad is a show about a man (Walter White) who has terminal lung cancer. Walter is a high school chemistry teacher who wants to make sure his family is taken care of once he dies. The way in which Walter does this is by producing and selling meth. The show had 5 very successful seasons starting January 20, 2008 and ending in September of 2013. Breaking Bad is full of interesting characters, questionable friendships and enemies, as well as ideas about moral aesthetic, sins, the soul, as well as anthropological concepts.

“Malls as Churches and Shopping as Worship” by Mrs Melissa Moore

In my paper and presentation I intend to show that while people are searching for spiritual fulfilment, they are not going to church to find it. Instead, they are headed to the mall. Shopping has become a new form of worship, complete with purchases as idols, pilgrimages to malls, and fellowship with other worshippers. I will show how malls are the churches of this new religion, bearing similar architecture and symbolism to that of cathedrals. Many buyers use shopping in an attempt to raise self-esteem, some to overcome solitude, and more still to distract themselves from their problems. Many also find that shopping gives them a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world. They get to make a myriad of decisions in a short amount of time; all while being doted upon by salespeople. I will demonstrate that unfortunately for shoppers, devotion to purchases does not provide salvation, however it does result in a downward spiral in which the shopper is never satisfied. No matter the result though, people are searching for spiritual fulfilment but are not turning to traditional religions to find it. Malls have become society’s new churches and shopping has become the preferred form of worship.

“Horizontal Transcendence and the Compelling Nature of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood” by Mr Brendon Neilson

Richard Linklater’s pioneering masterpiece Boyhood is captivating on various levels. The simple and longitudinal tale of a life from boyhood to adulthood sparks something profound within its audience. Through skillful narrative, acting and filmmaking Linklater’s project compels without using traditional strategies of doing so. This paper begins by proposing an understanding of compellingness and applying it to Boyhood. It then explores Mark Johnson’s proposal of horizontal transcendence which provides a description of how the aesthetic qualities of life can offer transcendent experiences. Horizontal transcendence motions toward an understanding of the connection between human experience and the divine. Understood as such horizontal transcendence nuances and expresses the paradox of how God can be both holy other and in all things. The paper concludes by offering some suggestions to embrace some of the multitude of connections between our daily lives and the divine life, and offers concluding thoughts on Boyhood’s success.

“Christ in a Comic Book Culture: Imaginary Apologetics and Sequential Art” by Mr Robert Chad Nuss

Comic books are important cultural artifacts. They serve both as an archaeology of culture and an apologetic bridge to culture. Their stories reveal the values, events, and worldviews that shape people. Comic books also attract readers and fans from across differing backgrounds, philosophical perspectives, and religious temperaments. Therefore, comic books serve as an interesting common ground for religious and philosophical interaction.

This proposal argues for the apologetic potential of comic books and graphic novels for Christian mission. Because story is a powerful devise in articulating truth in contemporary culture, comic books offer a unique opportunity to articulate the Christian message. Drawing on principles from C. S. Lewis’s “imaginary apologetic,” this paper outlines how comic books stories offer two important tools for Christian mission. First, comic book stories appeal to our longing for eternity. These stories invite readers into an imaginary world that affirms our recognition of ‘otherness’ extending beyond space and time. Second, comic book stories engage readers in deep philosophical and religious reflection free from the initial resistance to these topics instigated by recognizable religious ideas, forms, and expressions. Comic book stories, therefore, offer a fresh approach to communicating the familiar message of the gospel.

“Christ in a Comic Book Culture: Parabolic Evangelism” by Mr Robert Chad Nuss

Stories play a fundamental role in conveying value and meaning in postmodern societies. Stories are powerful because they go beyond simply conveying information. They invite us into an intimate encounter with the author’s narrated world, and therefore not only deliver content but also an emotional, psychological, and spiritual experience of that content. Contemporary theologians recognize how pervasive story is in the Bible. Various schools have sought to understand and articulate how story influences our understanding of the Bible and its application for daily life. This paper argues the parables of Jesus serve as an appropriate model for using story to communicate Christian ideas in our contemporary age. The parables of Jesus were not simply interesting stories. Instead, they were stories used to address the reader and challenge them to assess their lives and make a response to the truth conveyed by the parable. This paper further argues that comic books have the unique potential to serve as modern parables. The comic book medium invites readers to not only enjoy fictional worlds, but also leverage the parabolic nature of story by addressing the reader directly with philosophical and spiritual content conveyed by these comic book stories. This approach, termed ‘Parabolic Evangelism,’ serves as one strategy among many in using the creative arts for Christian mission.

“The Silence: A Visual Literary Example of Imaginary Apologetics and Parabolic Evangelism” by Mr Robert Chad Nuss

The Silence: 13 Pieces 11″x17″ Original Size
This series of sequential art pieces introduces the reader to the ongoing science fiction comic book story, The Silence. Utilizing aspects of both ‘Imaginary Apologetics’ and ‘Parabolic Evangelism,’ The Silence intentionally uses story to investigate various worldviews and philosophies, draw out their logical conclusions and inconsistencies, and consider relevant opposing Christian truth claims. As an ‘Imaginary Apologetic,’ The Silence invites readers into a science fiction world that explores specific worldviews and their implications without carrying religious language that otherwise would distract audiences from objective reflection on religious ideas. As a means of ‘Parabolic Evangelism,’ The Silence challenges the reader to consider how the inconsistencies in these worldviews undermine their truth value in the real world while also offering the reader the decision to shift their worldview in a more consistent direction, particularly according to the Christian narrative. The Silence leverages the power of story and beauty as commonground for Christian mission in postmodern environments.

“’The Holiest Place on Earth’: Disneyland as a Modern Christian Pilgrimage” by Ms Angela Querengesser

Since the early 1950’s the word Disney has become a common household name used to describe movies, amusement parks, and an entire franchise dedicated to encapsulating the purity and innocence of childhood.  It is a world identified by magical experiences, perfection, and soulful spectacles.  This presentation acknowledges these superficial characteristics of Disney; however, I argue that deeper religious themes can be found throughout the brand.  More specifically, this presentation focuses on the religious parallels found between Disneyland and Christianity, discussing themes such as: Walt Disney and God, the creation story, “hidden mickeys”, and the physical pilgrimage into the park.  Through careful examination of these specific facets it becomes evident that the alluring qualities commonly associated with Disney have striking parallels with the qualities that attract people towards religion.  This presentation concludes that Disneyland is an impressive secular parody of God’s heavenly kingdom as revealed through Christianity.

“He’s ‘Our Little Mate’ Looking Over Us!  Death in Pop Culture” by Dr Richard Rymarz

Nothing says religion in pop culture more clearly than death!  What was the most tweeted and googled topic in Australia in the two months prior to christmas 2014?  Try Phil Hughes, the international cricketer who was killed in a domestic match in Sydney.  The paper will take two tacks.  Firstly, looking at some of the ways the death of Hughes was expressed in the popular culture. the list of these expressions goes on and on  – the monuments, the tributes, the testimonies, the public homage paid to by civic leaders, the websites constructed in his honour. To many, these expressions were best encapsulated by the oft stated view that Hughes “our little mate” was still watching over us.  Witness the extraordinary sight of other Australian cricket players kneeling and looking upward at match milestones to acknowledge their departed friend.   The second aspect of the paper will hopefully serve as a departure point for a discussion of  the well known topic of death in contemporary culture and how this is understood in sociological terms.

“Pursuing Phantoms: The Search for Religious Meaning in Popular Culture?”  by Dr Dale Schlenker

A purposive sample of scholarly research articles, popular press contributions, and original ethnographic research, is incorporated to catalogue some of the dimensions of implicit religion perceived to be located in popular culture venues. Ranging in subject matter from sports to media products to technology and cultural movements, the search for religious surrogates and sacred elements, is seen by some to indicate the continued relevancy of religion in contemporary society.  At the theoretical level, the question of the value of this metaphorical pursuit of religious discovery is considered, especially when untethered from substantive definitions of religion.  The expansion of religious definition to include phenomena that have the appearance of functioning as religious meaning may be seen to grant immortality to religion via definitional fiat.  At the same time, the search for new expressions of “religious-like” meaning may have the attendant dysfunction of rendering religion, as substantively defined in relation to a supernatural referent, to a secondary or even neglected area of enquiry.  The blurring of the demarcation between religion and the sacralization of identity through popular cultural production – material and nonmaterial –  flags the importance of differentiating between the religious and the sacred.  Alternatively, a social science of meaning construction and meaning mapping may, more appropriately, view religion, the sacred, and other value-laden designations, as simply subsets of plausibility structures available to identity anchorage in postmodern society.

“What if Jesus Doesn’t Die?  Video Games, Meaning, and the Challenge of Playing With Religion” by Dr Kevin Schut

Rachel Wagner raises a fascinating question in her essay in Halos and Avatars: could a Christian video game allow for a scenario where the player tortures Jesus—or even more troublingly, could such a game allow a scenario where Jesus doesn’t die on the cross?  Video games are interactive texts that allow for play.  And while the choices available to a player are in some sense limited by the game designer, gamers often expect to be able to impact a game’s narrative by the way they play.  This, however, is anathema to traditional Christian theology, as Wagner points out.  It is precisely the inflexibility and predictability and dependability of the Christian narrative that theologians and evangelists have valued.  So is it possible or permissible or even desirable for Christians to put their sacred narrative in video game form, or does the nature of the medium preclude such a move?  Or does the advent of video games and other interactive media indicate a likely shift in the way we culturally approach religion?  This paper will investigate these questions by considering the possible frames for interpreting video games—that is, different ways players can make meaning in video games.  Does narrative mean the same thing when it is in game form?  Does playable religion mean we even understand religious narrative in the same manner as we did when it was spoken, written or viewed?

“Pop Culture and Intergenerational Solidarity in Congregations” by Dr Cory Seibel

Over the course of the last seventy years, there has emerged a close-knit relationship between pop culture and youth culture within North American society. This paper will briefly explore the historical development of this relationship and the various ways that it has impacted intergenerational dynamics within society. The focus will then turn to an examination of the impact that the relationship between youth culture and pop culture has had upon intergenerational life within the church specifically. This paper will demonstrate that both the dynamics of pop culture and the postures that the church has adopted in responding to it have complicated the church’s effectiveness in fulfilling its intergenerational mandate. The paper will conclude will constructive proposals regarding how the generations’ shared experience in the world of pop culture might serve as a platform for the strengthening of intergenerational solidarity in the church. In developing this theme, insights will be drawn from historical, social-scientific, and theological sources. This paper will make a positive contribution to the conversation on intergenerational ministry by providing a deepened understanding of phenomena impacting the life of the many churches today and by offering practical strategies for strengthening intergenerational communication and sentiment within congregations.

“Religion in Bioshock” by the Visual Arts Club (CUE)

Bioshock is a first person shooter game series that focuses on an underwater city and later an air city. The games take the individual through different types of religious societies. There is the anti-religious society that focuses on a capitalistic ideologies. The second is the complete opposite, focusing on a collectivist cult. This cult believes that the fault lies within man. The third type of religious society is a depiction of extremist religious practices in hopes to cleanse society of its wrong doings.

“Sacred Ink: A Look at the Cultural and Spiritual Implications of Tattoos” by Ms Lenora Wallden

There are many points where the sacred and the popular interact. This paper looks at the art of tattooing as part of a pop culture movement of self-expression as well as its spiritual and religious implications. Because tattoos are a permanent art form that you take with you everywhere you go, they are often personal in nature, telling the world something about who you are as a person or what is important to you. For some people tattoos are also have a spiritual aspect. This may include spiritual protection, mystical healing, or simply an expression of faith.  Many cultures have traditions of tattoos that go back to the ancient world. Having an understanding of what tattoos mean in today’s culture can help us to understand the Levitical prohibition of tattoos and what it means for Christians today.

“YOLO – Religion and Consumer Behavior among young Christians in North America and Germany” by Mr Lucas Wehner

Hirschman found out that religious affiliation had an impact on consumer behavior (as cited in Taylor, Halstead & Haynes, 2010). In consequence, this had to mean that changing paradigms in religion also had to change consumer behavior. Consumerism could best be studied at a country’s generation which had a greater spending power than the gross domestic product of some European countries: the American youth (as cited in Zandstra, 2010). This presentation displays trends of religious emerging adults, their understanding of religion and its applications for culture based on Smith’s and Snell’s (2009) “Souls in Transition.” It also raises questions whether religion in itself became an item of religion to this generation, and in result, whether churches could be viewed as businesses, or to ask in the light of Marxist philosophy whether religion could be viewed as “opium of the people.” Thus, another question to be raised is whether there is truth to the religious market theory comparing North America and Western Europe with each other. Finally, the presenter draws from Giudici’s (2011) provocative thoughts on money and fortune in order to challenge the audience in a new way of thinking about consuming and viewing their religious believes.

“DC Graphic Novel, Kingdom Come, as Interpretive Lens for Book of Revelation” by Mr Mark Wheller

The Detective Comics graphic novel Kingdom Come (1996) uses imagery and text from the King James’ New Testament: Book of Revelation to interpret and reflect upon a “community in crisis.” In Kingdom Come, the separation between Golden Age heroes, such as Superman, and humans, along with odd story elements– the destruction of Kansas, the use of nuclear bombs, ethnic genocide, the killing of new meta-humans—develop the main plot, the sacrifice of Captain Marvel, who is both fully human and fully meta-human. By the end, an optimistic future is captured through the joining of the Golden Age heroes and humanity captured in the phrase, “Battle for Truth … Justice … and a New American Way.” I argue that the “community in crisis” reflects the United States in the 1990’s; but more than being reflective of the American socio-cultural context, the graphic novel also captures an interpretation of John’s “community in crisis” for late first century CE Christian communities. Instead of re-scripting Revelation, Kingdom Come, interprets the 1st Century CE text.

“Religion in Video Games” by Ms Lexie Zechman

The research project analyzes the references and interpretations of religion in current video games. Video games that will be looked at will mostly be the Halo series but also Diablo, Assassin’s Creed, God of War, and Outlast. Sociology and psychology of religion will be the main methodology of the project by examining how an individual or a group of people find entertainment or obsession through religious virtual games. It also compares the ideas of the games through Comparative Literature. This project will research why so many game consist of the theme “good versus evil”. It will also review questions like: why do the games feature a main protagonist trying to overcome a darkness? Why do we chose to play that main protagonist? Why do we find amusement or obsession over games where there are heroes and villains and why chose to play the “saviour”? Is it because those as Christians, we find comfort in the familiar or because those as atheist deep down wish to find their own saviour?