Religion, Pop Culture and Video Games

An eclectic bunch of links today, focusing upon biblical literacy, religion and video games, and video games as a way of creating wellbeing.

First up a new book from Heidi Campbell and Gregory Grieve

Quick review here: Religion Book Review: Playing with Religion in Digital Games by Heidi A. Campbell and Gregory P. Grieve.

Next a link to Bible literacy is going up, not down – thanks, Lady Gaga; The UK Bible Society survey mentioned can be found here.

And finally, Tapping Into the Emotional Side of Video Games: Developing Hope, Healing and Love.

Related links to this latter one include the use of the games mentioned here in church settings – See http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-08/09/geekdad-hatches-exeter-cathedrals-journey-service and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00sg1fq

Books on the go.

I have a bunch of books on my desk at the moment that I’m hoping I can have a look at over the Easter break.


“Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying The Best And Avoiding The Worst” (Bex Lewis)

Too many books and not enough time to read them all.

An Invitation to the Study of Cyborgs

I met with Prof. Toru Takahashi a week or two back, while he was here at the University of Waikato on sabbatical. Good conversations around cyborgs, religion, animé and manga. He’s written mostly in Japanese, but here’s an English version of a short article of his.

Online academia

A couple of interesting posts on online academia. The first looks at how PhD students might use online resources and networks to promote and resource their own research, while the second looks at developments in online theological education.

Mental health and academia

Mental health amongst academics doesn’t really get talked about to much. Constant change within the tertiary sector, continual creeping (and often accelerating) bureaucracy, and an ever increasing audit culture can and do reduce space for collegiality, fulfilling a sense of vocation and developing a kind of work life balance (e.g. spending your annual leave doing the research your job requires but doesn’t allow time for in your regular work schedule). In this environment, mental health issues are hard to manage and even seen as a kind of normality sometimes. These recent articles on the issue from The Guardian pick up on this.

EasyBib Bibliography Creator – Google Docs add-on

With more students using web-based/cloud-based software to write their work up in, this looks like a useful addition for Google Docs – See EasyBib Bibliography Creator – Google Docs add-on.

PaperPile does something similar but it isn’t free, RefWorks (if you have access to that) can sort of fake doing it too.

Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul?

A while ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, theology and robots was a topic that generated a number of books and publications including the ones below:


“God In the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God” (Anne Foerst)

“God and the Mind Machine: Artificial Intelligence” (John C. Puddefoot)

Now it looks like that discussion is getting a new lease of life: See Apocalypse NAO: Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul? | Popular Science

“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.

“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”

Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: http://t.co/cw9On1JVgN) for the link.