A Paradise Lost Study Guide – How Satan Saved the World

I started planning this book, which became my PhD Thesis, about 5 years ago. It didn't turn out to be exactly what I expected - it's a mashup of Paradise Lost scholarship and a comparative history of the influence Milton's Satan had on politics, art, literature, revolution and social progress over several centuries. It's a response to the bizarrely conservative academic readings of Paradise Lost that continue to be taught in many universities. It's a summary of historical ...

Xmen are antichrists, fighting against God’s apocalypse

My thesis is about revolution, even (and/or especially) when it's revolution against God (as in Milton's Paradise Lost.) So I was interested in Xmen Apocalypse, because it deals very specifically with themes I've written about before. Specifically, if God comes to end the world, as he's promised to in Revelations, and someone stands up against him to save mankind, as the antichrist is supposed to, the antichrist will be heroic. According to Christianity, the antichrist will fail,  but ...

Damien TV series review – is the antichrist a hero?

I was kind of excited to see the new TV series called Damien, which chronicles the rise of the antichrist. It's fun to see how they can keep the plot interesting, while hiding the crucial and key fact that the antichrist is God's puppet (so he is either a devout follower who willingly does God's work, or he forced to do it against his will, or he is manipulated into doing what he thinks is ...

Marvel declares war on God: How Christians and Atheists are interpreting the Batman v Superman movie

I wasn't expecting much from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). I'd seen all the bad reviews and hype online. It looked silly, but I was desperate to kill time and eat popcorn, so I went. Firstly, it's a great movie - better than most other Marvel flicks. Secondly, it's worth two years at Seminary school. The whole thing is a messy metaphor for God, the Devil, Jesus, and religious belief in general. I've made similar ...

Lucifer TV Series (part two review – Is Satan good or evil?)

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I wrote about the new Lucifer TV show when I saw the pilot a few months ago. Since then, I haven't watched much because it's a pretty boring cop show, which happens to have Lucifer dealing with the personal crisis of becoming more and more human (while keeping some gifts, like making people confess their deepest desires). But in Episode Six, there's some interesting theology happening. And angel comes in and wants Lucifer to embrace his role ...

How terrorism, whale hunting and the new Moby Dick movie show evil is relative

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It's a few days past Thanksgiving, and tonight at dinner we were talking about terrorism, whale hunting and the new Moby Dick movie (In the Heart of the Sea - just found out it's not a Moby Dick movie, but close enough to be included in this discussion). The conversation got started got started because of the shooting today in San Bernardino, California. As of right now, authorities and the media are saying it could be "either ...

A new show starring Lucifer: finally, the devil portrayed as hero on TV!

I'm sensitive when talking about my PhD research, because I know most people aren't ready to seriously engage with the idea that Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost (even though debate has been raging for about 300 years... and it's a stupid debate too, because the evidence is so clear, and academics spin circles to try and invent crazy arguments to refute the obvious). I've wondered whether "America" would ever be able to stomach a ...

(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 ...