Friday, November 09, 2007

Spirituality and Popular Culture Conference: A Journey of Spirit and Faith in Connection with The Sundance Film Festival

One of the areas of research exploration for me since completing my graduate degree has been in the area of so-called "practical theology" (what does this label so about other forms of theology?) and popular culture, particularly film studies. As part of this research I will be participating in an event sponsored by a Salt Lake Theological Seminary that involves a two-day film viewing and discussion forum in connection with the Sundance Film Festival followed by a course of study that looks at differing genres of film that engage the spiritual in popular culture. Among other texts already in my collection, some of the materals I have been engaging for this include:

Craig Detweiler and Barry Taylor, A Matrix of Meanings Finding God in Popular Culture (Baker Academic, 2003)

Robert K. Johnston (ed), Reframing Theology and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline (Baker Academic, 2007)

Gordon Lynch, Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture (I.B. Tauris, 2007)

Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson and Michael Sleasman (eds), Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends (Baker Academic, 2007)

Major promotion for the event and the course have yet to take place from the seminary, but following is a description for those who would like to consider their participation.

Utah is the home for one of the great national film gatherings, the Sundance Film Festival. In order to take advantage of this important cultural event, Salt Lake Theological Seminary is putting together an event that will benefit both church and community, the Spirituality and Popular Culture Conference. This event features Christians with expertise in theology, popular culture, and cinema.

Participants include:

Craig Detweiler, a recognized author, screenplay writer, film professor and co-director of the Reel Spirituality Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary (where he also teaches). He was the screenwriter for the Disney film The Duke as well as Extreme Days. He co-authored the book A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture with Barry Taylor, which has been used as a textbook by many Christian media students and by others seeking to find religious meaning within the entertainment industry.

Marc Lougee is a Canadian filmmaker who has been involved with a number of projects. Marc's most recent film, a stop-motion animation production of The Pit and the Pendulum, has been showcased at a number of film festivals and has won several awards. This film was executive produced by animation legend Ray Harryhausen (Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Clash of the Titans) and Fred Fuchs (Francis Ford Coppolla's Dracula, Frankenstein). Visual Effects for the film were produced by Switch VFX, Toronto.

John Morehead is a researcher, scholar, and writer on intercultural studies and alternative spiritualities in the West. He also works in the area of spirituality in popular culture. One of his research areas is in myth and archetype in popular culture, often expressed through the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. He has taught at Salt Lake Seminary on film and faith, and regularly discusses these topics on his blog TheoFantastique, a unique combination of popular and academic explorations of spirituality, the fantastic, and pop culture.

We invite your participation in this two-part conference on Saturday and Sunday evenings, January 19 and 20, 2008. Contact Salt Lake Theological Seminary for more information on times and location for the films and panel discussions, and the course that follows.


tate31nym said...

Check out the book (if you haven't already) Pop Goes Religion by Terry Mattingly. It's a quick and highly enjoyable read.

I'm definitely putting this confrence on my calendar.

John W. Morehead said...

I hope to see you at the conference!