(Deus) Ex-Machina: Artificial Intelligence and the History of Gods

I decided to watch Ex-Machina (2015) to blow off some steam, but I started taking notes when this line made me sit up and take notice: "If you've created a conscious machine it's not the history of man... that's the history of Gods." This isn't just a sci-fi thriller, this is an attack on God, by making the obvious connection between creating AI and creating conscious human beings. The movie begs for a theological interpretation, so here it ...

Is Les Miserables a death cult for failed revolutionaries?

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I've seen Les Miserables several times. The music has always been stirring, but I've never been able to bond with the characters as much as I did tonight, when watching the new Hollywood production, which involves closeup shots of the painful, anguished looks on the faces of Hollywood Superstars like........... There isn't much missing from the story, love, loss, regret, revenge, anger, comic relief... it's a powerful tale meant to melt hearts, and it succeeds. But let's ...

Marvel’s DareDevil TV Series explores the shifting boundaries between villain and hero

This is a (a)theological companion to Marvel's 2015 DareDevil TV Series. The series narrative starts like this: the main hero goes to church to ask forgiveness for what he's about to do. He draws the line at killing people, but both the good guys and the bad guys tell him if he wants to make a difference, to win, he's going to have to start. Throughout Season One, he's wrestling with questions of morality... he's afraid he may be just ...

Are angels real? The Messengers – a new supernatural TV show wants you to believe in the Devil

At the end of a hard day's work, I like to unwind with whatever TV show I can find. I tend to like supernatural drama series, but not really shitty high school drama ones. The latest series that has caught my attention is CW's "The Messengers" - which is, basically, the Book of Revelations but on TV. As someone who understands the Apocalypse Story as a vindictive minority group's wish-fulfillment future where all their enemies get ...

What’s wrong with Andrew Pyper’s novel “The Demonologist.”

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On a train from Toulouse to Barcelona this week I found myself without internet and searching my iPhone for something to read. I discovered Andrew Pyper's "The Demonologist" which I'd bought months before and quickly became enthralled. Like me, the main character (David) is an academic studying Paradise Lost, and reading Satan as the obvious hero of the story: a story about freedom, revolution, the right to self govern, and the tyrannical, irrational ruler he cannot escape. This ...

The Daily Show talks about Islam Heretics

Criticism of Islam can result in very nasty and very personal backlashes, as Sam Harris continues to notice, but I was a little surprised to watch John Stewart grill Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Daily show on the March 23, 2015 episode. John often meets with authors promoting their books, and mostly laughs, pitches them softball questions and tells people to go buy the book. With Ayaan, who was there to promote her book "Heretic," he ...

“Dig” pilot… a new version of the biblical apocalypse?

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As a theology major with his own plans to write bible-based apocalyptic fiction, I was excited to see a new TV show out with some great actors. On the one hand, the same topics are recycled so blatantly from other sources it's cliche on cliche... -A handsome FBI agent called to Israel to chase down a murderer who stole an antiquity... -An attractive red haired archaeologist (also American of course) on a dig under the Temple Mount looking ...

Santa, Satan, St. Nick and Krampus (the moral fluctuation of holiday heroes and villains)

The holidays are always a strange time. The Winter Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years - it can be argued that astrological events led to the creation of religious practice - but different cultures celebrate in unique fashions. But modern Western culture embraces such a confusing hodgepodge it's bound to cause discord. One baptist minister for example is drawing heat for a church sign that reads "Santa is Satan." He's not the first Christian to complain ...

I.Origins – Does faith pervert science?

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It's a classic love story. Boy meets girl. Girl is wistful and spiritual, boy is scientific and needs facts and data. (Spoiler Alert!) Girl gets cut in half when elevator fails. Besides having the most gruesomely tragic death scene I've ever witnessed - something out of a  Final Destination movie - I.Origins starring Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Michael Pitt is an interesting, in-depth look at God, faith, spirituality and the space between. In the metaphor that frames the storyline, worms have no ...

Dracula Untold: making vampires into heroes and Muslims into devils (Was Vlad the Impaler a Christian?)

I've been excited about the 2014 retelling of the Dracula mythos for quite some time. A Faust-based narration, casting Vlad the Impaler as a suffering hero who made a deal with the Devil to save his people? Sign me up! What I wasn't prepared for was the sermonizing, heavy-handed Christian morality, and cliché, card board cutout representations of good and evil. Let's start with the basics. Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III, was a Prince of Wallachia  - Transylvania - who lived in the ...

Crossbones TV Series: Pirates and the Devil Continued

In the PhD Thesis I'll finish one day, I make the connection between the rise of pirates, libertarianism and democracy with sacrilege and devil worship - not "real" devil worship of course, simply people who openly rebelled against the idea of God and aligned themselves openly with the politics of Satan. So I've been pleased to watch the sudden increase in pirate fascination... which I thought was running dry after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies ...

Dominion TV Series: The AntiChrist is the Hero in the War on Heaven

25 years ago, God disappeared. Some angels blamed humans, and led by Gabriel, they waged a war against the humans. Other, higher angels, led by Michael, decided to protect the humans. A child is born, with markings on his body, who will grow up to become the savior of the human race and lead mankind out of darkness. Followers of the faith "continue to believe that the chosen one, our savior will reveal himself to us." The ...