Reading - Religion and Popular Culture.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
St. Michael's College Courses
Jennifer Harris

Religion and Popular Culture: Rescripting the Sacred – Richard W. Santana and Gregory Erickson  passive TV activity -> interactive, comprehensive viewing experiences  critical reading, taking more seriously  shift in attitudes, TV not limited to Raymond Williams “flow” of “uninterrupted, unpunctuated stream of programmes, advertisements, announcements and logos” (114)  take charge, interactive and control, creating viewing exp of own, watch when want, multiple viewings  fans study every episode and scene, review dialogue, eamine… skip over commercials, like-minded viewers in online communities  “fan communities are able to create a discourse and theoretical network on their own terms, based on rigorous and detailed viewing experiences” (114)  like Am Xnity, fan-based theorizing operates outside of institutional/legitimated modes of thought… TV and religious practices  Star Trek fan cultures, reinterpretations, authors into famous figures, vicil religion with organization, dogmas, canon of sacred texts, rituals, recruitment system  TV now “observable text in themselves” forum for “serious intellectual debate, primarily visible on the internet” (115)  Henry Jenkins – “fandom is one of those spaces where people are learning to live and collaborate within a knowledge community” (115)  Vernacular theory-making, vernacular culture with own practices – Thomas McLaughlin  Jenkins – fans “central to how culture operates” -> active audience now taken for granted, though controversial before  Midrash online, (vs Christian search for unity) gather various meanings into one, diferentiation, multiplicity [model for fan theories and viewings]  Complex dense debates taking place around internet and TV as popular forums  Pop culture and religion intersect, mirror and influence each other  Televangelism – “televangelists pare their message down to the simplest denominator – believe this and you will be save, follow the word and you will be happy – often with a plea for money, and without addressing all of the various shades of belief (118)  Contradiction of “paradoxically solid” truth that is “unchanging yet intensely subjective,” equally based in unerring scripture and individual private experience  Pop culture mirror simplified perspective of televangelism and ofer ob=ppositional view  Negotiation space of pressuring issues of philosophy, theology, morality  Intersection of tv drama, fan comm and scholars build up around select tv dramas -> pop culture reinvented, rescripted traditional religious activity Televising God and presence  God and religious themes in primetime drama since 90s… religion often superficially one-dimensional but further discussions by fans and scholars often “reveal complex negotiations of theological issues and concepts” (119)  Buffy, X Files, Touched by an Angel, Joan of Arcadia  Continuous plot over multiple episodes of TV drama allows complex discussions from different angles  Buffy – vampire with soul… explore issues, encourage energetic debate and commentary out of religious limitations because philosophical and theo issues exist in “fantasy setting, veiwers are often destabilized form their core beliefs… space of confusion… beginning of speculative thought”  Issues of faith, practice, ritual, text  X-files central conflict about belief in paranormal, deals with faith (aliens vs God, ritual as effective and superstitious)  Joan of Arcadia, God tangible… seeing not appearing… but God asks Joan to do tasks related to American teen experience… blindly trust commands like Old Testament or Koran or New Testamen… implicitly questions both sides, God is good concept  Ironically in “attempting to present a consistent deity, the show actuall y suggested the opposite; in making God a visible talking presence, it ultimately questions the existence of the divine” (123)  Absence and presence, incarnation, human body… ambiguous worlds for TV has to be visible  Negative Theology of Buffy  Produced “most commentary on its religion – from fans to critics to philosophers and theologians” (123)  Symbolism, metaphor, complex dev of ethical, religious and philosophical issues  Fans associate show’s meaning with creator’s words but Christian show characterization separates text from (Atheist) creator, rescripted sacred text  Buffyology – inenret discussion list for academic study of Buf
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