Outsider perceptions – Church on Christmas Day

I’m always interested in outsiders’ perspectives on church services, and in particular, those congregations within my own denomination of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Here is Kelvin Wright (former Anglican bishop in Dunedin) on attending Rolleston congregation of Hope Presbyterian in Chrismas Day

Available Light: Church on Christmas Day

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Religion and comics in the new year 

I had the opportunity recently to peruse the samplings of two comic book vendors I don’t normally get a chance to visit, and to rummage through their stock looking for more material for Bible and popular culture resources, and also for the angels in popular culture research project.

Down in Wellington, I had a look in at Graphic in Cuba Street just up from the Bucket Fountain. A really good range of new and back issue comics, trade paperbacks and other pop culture stuff. That’s where I found of a copy of the crossover between Daredevil and the Magdalena (see below) a few years back now, and the shop didn’t disappoint this time either.

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This time they had some copies of DC Comics foray into turning the Bible into comic book form back in the mid-1970s. I think I read some of these as a child – probably on a church camp or similar – and they’re a real blast from the past. In the article linked below, Beth Davies-Stofka, writes about this collection:

DC Comics’ The Bible (1975) written by Sheldon Mayer, edited by Joe Kubert and illustrated by Nestor Redondo, tackles Genesis 1-19 in a larger-than-life way. With an audience of children in mind, these “most spectacular stories ever told” in “the most beautiful comic magazine ever produced” (according to DC promotional materials) were aimed at countering the influence of science on children’s religious education.

Source: The Bible In Comics: How Genesis, Other Biblical Stories Come Alive Through Illustration | HuffPost

As Davies-Stofka notes this is set up in the first few pages of the comic, but rather than following a creation science agenda, the comics tends more to a more general theistic evolutionism with science providing the ‘how’ and Christian theology the ‘why’ for the world around the reader. What I found particularly striking is how white everyone is in comics. I’ve posted a few photos below, where human ‘perfection’ is equated with blond hair and blue eyes etc. Something for my students to mull over the next time I teach on Jesus in popular culture and translating the Bible into visual media.

Here’s the introduction to DC’s 1975 project, which gives some of their (brief) rationale behind the translation. And while, you might say that was 1975, DC Comics also reproduced it in hardcover in 2012.

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And a couple of examples of the artistic style:

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The second visit was to the ‘pop-up’ Astroman store in the local Westfield Westcity mall in Henderson. I’ve visited their stall before at various markets (Pokeno, for example), but the shop gives them space to lay stuff out and a better experience browsing. I took advantage of their $10 for 10 comics to clear out all their back issues of Lucifer for my angels in popular culture research project. (That’s the same character who features in the eponymous TV show of the same name, though written less intelligently in the TV format.)

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So, all in all, a great start to the New Year. Looking forward to writing up a couple of articles on religion and comics and angels in popular culture on research leave later in the year.

Posted in Angels, Bible in Popular Culture, Comics, Demons, Faith & Religion, Religion and Media, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New reading: RedEdits – Geoff Cochrane

On the strength of following The Spinoff’s regular “The Friday Poem” where I read The Friday Poem: ‘Overheard’ by Geoff Cochrane I purchased the 2017 collection of his poems RedEdits published by Victoria University Press.

So far, my favourite poem is:

Public Relations
My barista asks me where he can find my books, and I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista thinks I’m a great bloke, and I don’t want him reading my books and changing his mind.

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A video tour of Evan’s Bay and Porirua’s characterful boat sheds – thisNZlife

Lovely little ‘slice of life’ short film about the boat sheds in Evan’s Bay and the Porirua habour, and some of the people who use them.

Both locations a loaded with memories for me – busing past Evan’s Bay each day on the way to and from high school and spending my childhood growing up around the Pauatahanui Inlet. Back there for the next 10 days so will make some more memories to go with the old ones.

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Religion and comics

I was rereading a short popular article I wrote a few years back on religion and comic books with a view to expanding it into something with a bit more academic depth and focus. Something that moves from simply describing the interaction of religion and comic books (and graphic novels and other forms of narrative sequential art) to something that speaks to the particular challenges and opportunities that portraying religious material using those media throws up.

This is an area that has seen some interesting work develop over the past few years, not in the least because of the plethora of superhero movies derived from their “four-colour” paper and digital sources, as well as some very good storytelling using comicbook media. A quick skim along my office bookshelves finds a few books on this kind of thing:


And perusing further down the shelves we come across:


There are also some relevant blogs and online journals that have arrived on the scene over the past few years:

Once I knock out three other writing projects in the new year (theological education and digital technologies; theological ethics and social media; and, spirituality in video games) I’ll be looking to work some more on this. As Julien of Norwich said, “All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.”

Posted in Angels, Bible in Popular Culture, Comics, Demons, Jesus & Pop Culture, Pop Culture, Religion and Media | Leave a comment

Human Uniqueness and Technology: Are We Co-Creators with God?

Every now and then, Google Scholar (and other research sites) send an email to say someone’s referenced my PhD thesis in a publication. It’s a good way to keep track of other researchers who are also interested in theology, technology and transhumanism, as well as who is using the thesis.

The most recent of these references is this recent essay in an upcoming book:

  • Lorrimar, Victoria. “Human Uniqueness and Technology: Are We Co-Creators with God?” In Issues in Science and Theology: Are We Special?, edited by Michael Fuller, Dirk Evers, Anne L.C. Runehov and Knut-Willy Saether, 169-180. Cham: Springer 2017.

I’m looking forward to reading the whole essay (rather than just the snippets on Google Books) later in the year.

I’ve found that series of books – Issues in Science and Theology helpful for my own research in the past, including when writing the PhD when I used this one:

The books are part of a series produced by the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology.


The PhD thesis – Transhumanism and the Imago Dei: Narratives of Apprehension and Hope – can be found here at the University of Auckland research archive.


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Youth Ministry Educators and “Networked Theology”

I was pleased to see a couple of references to the Networked Theology book in papers to be presented at the Association of Youth Ministry Educators 2017 conference in Dallas later this month.

Angela Gorrell’s paper on integrating theological new media literacy into Christian education and formation – Faith for a Way of Life: Christian Formation and Education in a New Media Culture – used it to assist with describing “new media” and the “social-shaping” of technology.

More significantly, Leslie Long’s (Oklahoma City University) paper – Stained Glass to Screens: How Modern Technology Influences an Ancient Faith – set the book as required reading for undergraduate class examining the theological implications of technology and its impact on religious practice and understanding.

An examination of our habits when using technology helped us explore the instruments we employ and the diverse attitudes students hold about a variety of platforms from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, to the elements used in many worship settings. Using Campbell and Garner’s categories in Networked Theology to examine technological usage, “optimism, pessimism and ambiguity,” students strived to understand how different people respond to technology. Looking at technological justice pushed the class to deal with issues pertaining to how geographical settings, economic status, age bias, and other barriers to access could limit or eliminate programs and possibilities. Moreover, intense conversations took place around the topic of community. The class talked about what defines a community in general and the traits of specifically religious communities. Students considered the implications of exclusively online communities in contrast to more traditional face-to-face religious gatherings.

Nice to see the book being used in these contexts.


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2017 Loading Docs – Diversity

Loading Docs is a site I’ve blogged about before which showcases short documentary films from Aotearoa New Zealand. The 2017 films are now up on the site (along with all the previous years).

The 2017 collection is themed around Diversity – Many voices, many stories, many screens and you can find the films here: Home – Loading Docs

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On Embryos and Spin | Center for Genetics and Society

An excellent op-ed piece on the way reporting of biotechnology is often reduced, unhelpfully and dangerously, to a “promise” vs. “peril” dichotomy. To do so ignores the many different positions that arise from competing (and misunderstood) values in the interactions with biotechnologies, as well as how the application of such developments shape not only those who are the target of them but also those who apply them.

But gene editing is more like terraforming, changing the landscapes, changing the idea of roads, changing the people who walk on the roads. It would alter us as a species in at least two ways: some would be changed from being engineered; some would be changed because they undertook the engineering; and all of us would be changed by living in a world where the technology was possible. We would be defined by our stances towards it, our choices to embrace, refuse, accommodate, resist. It is not merely disease that is at stake, but identity, and in more ways than we can calculate, human gene editing would rewrite the meaning of pronouns—I, we, you—from the inside.

Source: On Embryos and Spin | Center for Genetics and Society

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For the past three days I’ve been attending the annual Theology and Communication conference THEOCOM17 at Santa Clara University in California. The conference describes itself as “A gathering of Theologians on Digital Communication” and this year’s theme is “Digital Shepherding: Pastoral Theology and Ministry in a Digital Age”.

The schedule of presentations is below, which I’ve annotated with relevant web links. Overall, some very interesting papers and excellent conversation.

Theological Foundations

    • Matthias Scharer
      From Pastoral Theology to Practical Theology: The Impact of Karl Rahner’s Understanding of Practical Theology in a Digital World
    • Archimandrite Alexandros Salmas
      St. Gregory the Theologian: A Patristic Paradigm for Pastoral Theology and Ministry in the Digital Age
    • Thomas Boomershine
      The Embodiment of the Word: A Pastoral Approach to Scripture in a Digital Age
  • Nadia Delicata
    Moral Theology in a Digital Age: Retrieving the Past for the Future

Media and Ministry

Education and Formation

    • Mary Hess
      Storying Faith Amidst Digital Cultures: Renewing Religious Education in the 21st Century
  • Rev. Jose Palakeel
    “Feed my Geeks”: Reflections on Ministerial Education and Formation in Digital Culture

Theology in Context

  • Theo Nicolakis and George Sarraf
    Conciliarity in a Digital Age: A Study on the recent Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church
  • Alba Sabaté Gauxachs
    Digital media, the New Space for Religion to Meet Youth. The Catalan case
  • David Trobisch and Seth Pollinger
    The Technology outreach of the Museum of the Bible

Pastoral Responses

  • Levi Checketts
    The Persona of the Pastor on Social Media
  • Antonio Spadaro, S.J.
    Social Media Practices

Pastoral Implementation

  • Fran Plude
    Building ‘Listening’ Communities of Faith: A Response to the Appeal for Dialogue of Pope Francis
  • Caroline Cerveny SSJ-TOSF
    To Be and Become Digital Missionary Disciples

Also good to see the book on Authority and Leadership from THEOCOM15 coming out in September (which includes a chapter I contributed).


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