All about angels this fortnight

I’m off to the ISMRC Conference: Media, Religion and Culture in a Networked World in less that a week, so my focus will be on angels (and the demonic) in popular culture for the next two weeks. I’ll be presenting a paper titled “Upside-down Angels: The Inverting of Supernatural Good and Evil in Popular Culture” on the Wednesday and really looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues from around the world.

So, I’ve been catching up on what is coming up in the world of angels and popular culture, and these look interesting. In particular, the new Constantine TV show looks like it will be much closer to the John Constantine of the comic books Hellblazer and Constantine (New 52 version here) rather than the Keanu Reeves US film version. The Dominion series looks average, but it could develop (though I don’t imagine either will make it on to NZ television), and still serves as some interesting research material.

Some angel popular culture trailers for those interested:

New Constantine TV Series

Dominion TV Series

Fallen TV Series

2005 Constantine film

Gabriel film

Urban Fantasy with a real character

As I’ve mentioned previously I really enjoy urban fantasy, and especially urban fantasy set in the UK. So I’ve been reading the ‘The Severed Streets’, the sequel to Paul Cornell’s ‘London Falling’. It was a good read, but one of my favourite bits was where he incorporated another of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, as a minor character in the story (Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’ being one of the first urban fantasy books I can remember reading). You can read about how that came about at the link below:

  

  

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

Summer reading…

Pottering through a number of books this summer break – dipping into them for a bit before moving on to another book for a while. On the go at the moment or just finished include:


“Happy Hour In Hell” (Tad Williams)

So far not as good as it’s predecessor, “The Dirty Streets of Heaven”. It feels more formulaic and in places the flippancy seems a little forced. Still it keeps up the research into angels in popular culture. Heaven and Hell here seem to be more reflections of human existence than the other way around though.


“The Left Hand of God” (Paul Hoffman)

One a range of fantasy fiction that I’ve come across in the past year or so that very much seem to be on the Church (or just religion) as an evil (or misguided) empire. Seems to be a common theme at the moment – I’ve also just finished the two below that also have a similar theme in them.


“Theft of Swords, Vol. 1(Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)


“Rise of Empire, Vol. 2 (Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)

I’m also dipping into the following two books and quite enjoying them. Both different to each other but well worth the time.


“Eating Heaven: Spirituality at the Table” (Simon Carey Holt)


“Religion and Science Fiction:” (James McGrath (ed))

And finally this arrived in the mail at Christmas, which looks like it’ll be helpful for teaching this year.


“Beginning Theology” (Lucienne Breingan)

Writing, reading and (religious) imagination

Two links here which both connect to the idea of ‘world-building’ – in the first case on the importance of fiction in engendering imaginative, thoughful people, while the second contemplated different ways in which one might deal with religion in fantasy writing.

For more on world-building, including some material in JRR Tolkien’s idea of sub-creation, see THE PERFECT PLANET: Comics, Games and World-Building.

Double map-making

Two interesting articles on map-making – one in the fictional context and the other for the web with real world data. Both interesting reads.

What’s in store for Serenity’s crew after the events of the film?

I’m a huge Firefly/Serenity fan. I’ve got the DVDs, the poster, and all the comics and graphic novels. So I’m hoping this comes to pass.

What’s in store for Serenity’s crew after the events of the film?


“Firefly: The Complete Series” (Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, Vern Gillum)


“Serenity” (Joss Whedon)


“Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind” (Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews)


“Serenity, Vol. 2: Better Days” (Joss Whedon)


“Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale” (Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon)


“Serenity Float Out #1 One-Shot Chen Cover” (Patton Oswalt)

Searching For A New Hero?

A reflection on how the changes in the recent history of the Green Lantern Corps in the DC Universe towards a more militaristic, political organisation change affection for beloved characters. Will be interesting to see future blog posts on this theme.

I’m of the view that the scope of the changes to the GL mythos, and the fact that they happened over a reasonably long time (10 years) means that the radicalness of them crept up on people, rather than with a (yet another) dramatic reboot of the character.

See A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Introduction | Political Jesus.