Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Joss Whedon and Religion

I have several friends who will be interested in the following book:
Joss Whedon and ReligionEssays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred 
Edited by Anthony R. Mills, John W. Morehead and J. Ryan Parker Foreword by K. Dale Koontz 
This is a collection of new essays on the religious themes in, and the implications of, the works of Joss Whedon, creator of such shows asBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and more recently writer and director of the box-office hit Marvel’s The Avengers. The book addresses such topics as ethics, racism, feminism, politics, spiritual transformation, witchcraft, identity, community, heroism, apocalypse, and other religiously and theologically significant themes of Whedon’s creative enterprises. The disciplinary approaches vary as well; history, theology, philosophy of religion, phenomenology, cultural studies, and religious studies are all employed in different ways. The existential faith commitments of the various essay authors are also different. Some are clearly believers in God, some are clearly not, and others leave that matter aside altogether in their analyses.

I remember the very first semester of graduate school (Fall 2003), I took a class that was the history of interpretation of Genesis 22 or Abraham's binding of Isaac, called the Akedah.  Jodi Eichler-Levine was also in that course, and wrote her paper on the Akedah, Buffy, and Angel.  If anyone does watch Joss Whedon shows with any regularity (my partner and I re-watch a lot of Buffy and Angel, with a pinch of Firefly), it is really difficult to miss all of the religious imagery.  There is, however, both obvious and less-than-obvious religious themes throughout Whedon's work; he draws upon and creatively recombines several mythemes.

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