Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium Presentation



I will be presenting a paper at the Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE): The Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy. The symposium will be held February 19-21 on the campus of Brigham Young University. My paper is titled "Cinefantastique to Theofantastique: Fantastic Cinema and Interreligious Dialogue." In it I will discuss the literature and cinema of the fantastic that provides a sense of wonder and entertainment, but also frequently serves as a place for the exploration of the transcendent. Mormons recognize this in the many science fiction writers who are Latter-day Saints, while evangelicals tend to look to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as patron saints of fantastic literature. I will suggest that given science fiction's ability to provide a sense of distance between controversial subject matter and the audience, and John Lyden's notion that film often performs a religious function in Western culture, that science fiction and fantasy cinema should be considered as a venue and medium for interreligious dialogue. The schedule for LTUE can be viewed here.

4 comments:

Matt Stone said...

Have you read "Scientific Mythologies" by Herrick yet?

John W. Morehead said...

I haven't, Matt. I'll take a look.

John W. Morehead said...

Matt, I looked at Herrick's book on Amazon.com and almost ordered it given it touches on areas of interest to me both in new religions and sci fi/fantasy, but after checking the reviews one critical one by McGrath stood out. I've interviewed McGrath on sci fi and new religions on my other blog before and have found his thinking helpful. It appears that Herrick's book lacks a self-critical posture on Christianity in the issues he raises, and also tends to view sci fi mythologies and the new religions they may generate as threats to Christendom. I tend to view them more positively and note that they present opportunities for us to contextualize the Christian story within these mythological frameworks in our pluralistic environment. I think I'll use Herrick's book as a bibliograpaphical reference but as a contrast to my own views. Thanks for making me aware of this book.

Matt Stone said...

Yeah, some deeper reflection of how such myths speak back to Christianity and how we might engage with them incarnationally would have been welcome. Nevertheless I think he is correct in identifying them as rival narratives and he makes some interesting observations along the way. I note even McGrath notes the latter so I'd still suggest keeping an eye out for it, if only for some contrasting reading.