Category Archives: Pop Culture

Urban fantasy on my mind


I’ve just finished reading Paul Cornell’s “London Falling,” part of the growing genre of urban fantasy which juxtaposes the everyday world with a parallel, invisible world visible to those with the eyes to see. In this particular case it mixes a police drama, organized crime, football, London and the supernatural, and after a slow start it was quite a good read. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

For a theologian urban fantasy is a rich treasure-trove of ‘biblical afterlives’ – echoes of biblical texts and stories somehow cut adrift from their original context and taking a life of their own in everyday culture – and often religious characters are dealt with more sympathy than one might think. (On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of paranormal romance which often intersects with urban fantasy).

From the past few years, here are a few of my favourites (which are often part of a series):

“Neverwhere (text only) 1st (First) edition by N. Gaiman” (N. Gaiman)

“Something from the Nightside (Nightside, Book 1)” (Simon R. Green)

“A Kiss Before the Apocalypse: A Remy Chandler Novel” (Thomas E. Sniegoski)

“Storm Front: Book one of The Dresden Files” (Jim Butcher)

“A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift” (Kate Griffin)

“J. Michael Straczynski’s Midnight Nation, Vol. 1” (J. Michael Straczynski)

“The President’s Vampire (A Nathaniel Cade Novel)” (Christopher Farnsworth)

“Hounding the Moon (Tess Noncoiré Adventures, Book 1)” (P. R. Frost)

“Anansi Boys” (Neil Gaiman)

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar)” (Tad Williams)

And a few others which cross over with steampunk and western

“Ghosts of Manhattan” (George Mann)

“The Six-Gun Tarot” (R. S. Belcher)

“Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novels)” (Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris)

Gender Through Comic Books | MOOC

An interesting looking online course Gender Through Comic Books | Canvas Network that partners a study of gender in comics with required reading materials being available to purchase through digital comic providers (in this case, Comixology).

Wondering if such a model might work for distance/online theological education?

Updating the door – Here come the warrior nuns!

During February my office door was covered in images of angels in popular culture. For March I’ve decided to go with warrior nuns in comic book culture. So my door now looks like this.

Warrior Nuns

Warrior Nuns

I may add some more to it, but I think with The Magdalena, Warrior Nun Areala, The Sisterhood and Chrono Crusade I have most bases covered.

Suggestions for April? I’m thinking posthuman/cyborg thoughts.

See also: The return of Magdalena | Greenflame.

Superman and Philosophy: First chapter available for free – The Comics Professor

I’ve got “Green Lantern and Philosophy: No Evil Shall Escape this Book” and Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture (Free on Kindle) so I’ll be reading this on the train to see whether to get the book.

Superman and Philosophy: First chapter available for free – The Comics Professor.

Christianity, Rene Girard, and The Hunger Games

A link from a while back, but I was reminded about it today when talking to one of our PhD students who has the essay “Sacred Men and Sacred Goats: Mimetic Theory in Levitical and Passion Intertext” in this recent book: Bloomsbury – Violence, Desire, and the Sacred.

See – Human Sacrifice, Your New Name Is “Reality TV”: Christianity, Rene Girard, and The Hunger Games | TheMoralMindfield.

Doorway to angelic realms

Angel-Door-2I’m currently working on turning my conference paper on theology, angels and vampires into a journal article and decided, having been quite bored last Friday afternoon, to move on from 2012 when I covered my office door with cartoons to creating for February an angels in popular culture display.

So here it is. Hoping it will inspire the paper writing (and a few more people to think about doing THEOLOGY 101 – The Bible in Popular Culture). Also a good conversation starter.

(Click on image for larger view)


A couple of articles related to creating worlds to inhabit in fiction and popular culture.

The first, drawn to my attention by a colleague who knows I’m in vampires in popular culture mode at the moment, talks about world-building within the Twilight novels and books and some intersections with religion and spirituality in those worlds.

The second is an op-ed piece by Saladin Ahmed, the author of “Throne of the Crescent Moon” (which I quite enjoyed), who talks about the ‘homes’ that people find in the worlds created particularly in fantasy fiction. See: At Home In Fantasy’s Nerd-Built Worlds : NPR

Like a detailed model railroad the size of a football field, or a small city of fully furnished dollhouses, the well-built fantasy world astonishes us with the vastness of its intricacies. And from this wood, paint, cloth, metal, and hours and hours of painstaking nerds’ work, a kind of magic is made.

A much more detailed essay on world-building from kiwi Dylan Horrocks can be found at the link below, as well as in the following collection of essays.

  • Horrocks, Dylan. “The Perfect Planet: Comics, Games and Word-Building.” In Writing at the Edge of the Universe, edited by Mark Williams, 197-223. Christchurch, N.Z.: Canterbury University Press, 2004.

Of course, one of the classic essays on world-building is this one: