A guide to experts on religion and pop culture

From films and television to music, technology and more, pop culture has become an important forum for reflecting, questioning and debating religious beliefs and issues. ReligionLink offers an extensive source guide to experts and organizations that specialize in different areas of religion and pop culture.

Film and TV

International sources

  • Damaris CultureWatch

    Damaris CultureWatch is a U.K.-based organization that offers Christian reflection on film, television, music, books and art.

  • The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

    The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal committed to the academic exploration, analysis and interpretation, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, of the interrelations and interactions between religion and religious expression and popular culture, broadly defined as the products of contemporary mass culture. The journal is based in Canada, but international in scope, and open to explorations of religion and popular culture in a variety of nationalities and cultures. It is edited by Mary Ann Beavis at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

  • INTERFILM

    A Germany-based international network that brings together individuals and institutions interested in film and theology.

  • Christopher Partridge

    Christopher Partridge is a professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom. He teaches and has written in the area of alternative spiritualities in West and is interested in the expression of spirituality in popular culture, including film, music, and cyberspace. He is the author of numerous books, including The Re-Enchantment of the West: Understanding Popular Occulture, vols. I & II (Continuum International Publishing Group – T & T C, 2005 and 2006).

U.S. sources

  • Plugged In

    Plugged In is the online version of Focus on the Family’s entertainment review magazine, which looks at film, television, books and videos from a conservative Christian perspective.

  • Christian Spotlight on Entertainment

    Christian Spotlight on Entertainment is a web site that rates film, television and other forms of entertainment for its compatibility with Christian principles.

  • The Decent Films Guide

    The Decent Films Guide is a web site that reviews films from a Christian perspective.

  • The Dove Foundation

    The Dove Foundation reviews movies to see how they coincide with “the Christian worldview” and offers warnings about those that do not meet its criteria. You may contact The Dove Foundation through the website.

    Contact: 616-454-5021.
  • GodWeb

    GodWeb is a Christian website for book and movie reviews run by Presbyterian minister Charles Henderson.

  • 2100 Productions

    Intervarsity Christian Fellowship runs 2100 Productions, a film review web site aimed at Christian college students.

  • Movie Theology: Movie Reviews & Resources

    The Movie Theology website lists movie reviews, movie theology blogs, film discussion groups and articles on faith and film.

  • Parents Television Council

    Parents Television Council, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group, has a mission to bring more family oriented programming to television.

    Contact: 213-403-1300.
  • David Bruce

    David Bruce, an ordained minister, is the webmaster of Hollywood Jesus. Hollywood Jesus posts movie reviews and explores the “profound meaning” behind film, music and pop culture from a Christian point of view.

  • Ed McNulty

    The Rev. Ed McNulty is a retired Presbyterian minister and publisher of Visual Parables, a journal that examines faith in films, and the author of Jesus Christ: Movie Star. He can talk about the Star Wars canon from a theological perspective.

  • Carl Jeffrey Wright

    Carl Jeffrey Wright is the author of God’s Vision or Television: How Television Influences What We Believe (Urban Ministries, 2004), about African-Americans, television and religion. He is the CEO of Urban Ministries Inc., an African American Christian publishing and communications company.

In the Northeast

  • Leonard Norman Primiano

    Leonard Norman Primiano is Chair and Professor of Religious Studies at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa. He contributed a chapter on the supernatural on television in God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture, edited by Eric Mazur (Routledge, 2000). A recent publication is “I Wanna Do Bad Things With You: Fantasia on Themes of American Religion from the Title Sequence of HBO’s True Blood” in God In The Details: American Religion In Popular Culture.

  • Sharon Pucker Rivo

    Sharon Pucker Rivo is executive director of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and an associate professor of Near Eastern and Judaic studies who teaches a course on Jewish film.

  • Steven D. Greydanus

    Steven D. Greydanus is a film critic based in New Jersey who runs Decent Films, a website that reviews films from a Christian perspective. Contact Steven via the Decent Films website.

  • Lisle Dalton

    Lisle Dalton is an assistant professor of religious studies at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. He has written about religion and The Simpsons.

  • Tona Hangen

    Tona Hangen is a professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Worcester State University in Mass. She is the author of Redeeming the Dial: Radio Religion and Popular Culture in America (University of North Carolina Press, 2002). She is an expert on the roots of religious broadcasting.

  • Kenda Creasy Dean

    The Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean is a professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also an ordained United Methodist pastor and co-founder of Ministry Incubators, a consulting group that works with pastors and faith communities to launch new ministries. She is the author of several books on youth ministry.

  • Sister Rose Pacatte’s movie blog

    Read the movie blog of Sister Rose Pacatte, director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies at Culver City, Calif.

  • Stephen Prothero

    Stephen Prothero is professor in the religion department at Boston University. He is author of Purified By Fire: A History of Cremation in America and American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, which looks at popular images of Jesus in film, television and print. He has also written about American Hindus.

  • Diane Apostolos-Cappadona

    Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, professor of religious art and cultural history at Georgetown University, wrote about “re-viewing” Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and images of women in contemporary religious film.

  • Richard A. Blake

    The Rev. Richard A. Blake, co-director of film studies at Boston College, is a film historian and author of Afterimage: The Indelible Catholic Imagination of Six American Filmmakers. Much of his writing has centered on religious themes and imagery in mainstream filmmaking.

  • Christopher Jordan

    Christopher Jordan is an assistant professor of film, industry production, distribution, exhibition, and cultural studies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He is the author of Movies and the Reagan Presidency: Success and Ethics (Praeger, 2003).

  • Robert Thompson

    Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, has written about the depiction of religion in television.

     

  • Eric Michael Mazur

    Eric Michael Mazur is a religion professor at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Va., where he teaches courses on religion and popular culture and Judaism and film. He is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Film. He says that if Americans are looking for spiritual expressions as opposed to institutional forms of religion, it’s logical they will seek spiritual themes in film.

  • Theresa M. Sanders

    Theresa M. Sanders is an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and author of Celluloid Saints: Images of Sanctity in Film (Mercer University Press, 2002).

  • Joyce Antler

    Joyce Antler is a professor of American Jewish history and culture at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. She has written about images of Jewish women on television and in popular culture.

  • S. Brent Plate

    S. Brent Plate is a visiting associate professor of religious studies at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. He has written about religion, art and visual culture. Religions, he notes, discuss the creation of the world, and films work on re-creating the world. He’s interested in how film has “come down” off the screen and infiltrated rituals. His books include A History of Religion in 5-1/2 Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses; Religion and Film; The Religion and Film Reader; Blasphemy: Art That Offends; Re-Viewing the Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics; and Representing Religion in World Cinema.

In the South

  • Mark Goodacre

    Mark Goodacre is a theology professor at the Duke University in Durham, N.C., where he maintains a web directory of internet resources on the New Testament called the New Testament Gateway.

  • John P. Ferré

    John P. Ferré is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. His focus is on media, religion and culture. He is the editor of Channels of Belief: Religion and American Commercial Television (Iowa State University Press, 1990).

  • Greg Garrett

    Greg Garrett is a professor of English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of Holy Superheroes: Exploring Faith and Spirituality in Comic Books and The Gospel According to Hollywood and is co-author, with Chris Seay, of The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix.

  • Reg Grant

    Reg Grant is a professor of pastoral ministries and director of the Media Arts and Worship Program at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has an interest in media as a writer, producer and actor and frequently comments on spirituality. He can speak about the connection between comic book heroes and religion, the Star Wars film series’ Buddhist-style philosophy in the context of traditional Christian doctrine, and more.

  • John R. May

    John R. May, professor of English and religious studies at Louisiana State University, has written about Hollywood and religion, contemporary theories on the interpretation of religious film and religious visions in American classics. He is editor of the books New Image of Religious Film and Image & Likeness: Religious Visions in American Film Classics.

     

  • Conrad Ostwalt

    Conrad Ostwalt is Department Chair  of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. He co-edited a book with Joel Martin, Screening the Sacred: Religion, Myth and Ideology in Popular American Film (Westview Press, 1995). He has written extensively about religion in the movies, with an emphasis on depictions of the Apocalypse, and is the author of Secular Steeples: Popular Culture and the Religious Imagination (Trinity Press International, 2003).

  • Chris Seay

    Chris Seay is pastor of the Houston church Ecclesia, a congregation that is part of the emerging church movement. Seay frequently writes about faith and pop culture and is co-author, with Greg Garrett, of The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix.

  • Richard Walsh

    Richard Walsh, professor of religion at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., writes about portrayals of Jesus in film. He says there have always been implicitly Christian movies because the Christian narrative and vision of life is so deeply ingrained. Walsh is author of Reading the Gospels in the Dark: Portrayals of Jesus in Film (Trinity Press International, 2003), which compares Jesus films to the canonical Gospels, and Finding St. Paul in Film (2006).

  • Kathleen S. Lowney

    Kathleen S. Lowney is a professor of sociology at Valdosta State University in Georgia. She has written about television talk shows and morality.

  • Elijah Siegler

    Elijah Siegler is an associate professor of religious studies at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. He contributed “God in the Box: Religion in Contemporary Television Cop Shows” to the book God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture (Routledge, 2001).

  • Lesley Armstrong Northup

    Lesley Armstrong Northup is an associate professor of religious studies at Florida International University in Miami. She wrote “Homosexuality in the Evolution of American Christianity,” a chapter in the volume Religion & Sexuality: Passionate Debates, edited by C.K. Robertson.

In the Midwest

  • Peter Gilmour

    Peter Gilmour is professor emeritus at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in Chicago, where he taught a graduate course on Jesus in the movies.

  • Glenn Sparks

    Glenn Sparks, a communications professor at Purdue University in Indiana, says television shows may influence what people believe about the supernatural. He studied how television in the 1990s influenced people’s belief in UFOs and alien abductions.

  • Phil Boatwright

    Phil Boatwright is a Christian movie critic whose work appears on his website, The Movie Reporter. He is based in Tonganoxie, Kan.

  • Quentin J. Schultze

    Quentin J. Schultze is a professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He is an expert on religion and its role in popular American culture and has written about the relationship of Christianity and evangelicals to mass media, including television and computers. He is author of the Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age (Baker Book House, 2004).

  • Jeremy Biles

    Jeremy Biles wrote a paper about ritual and salvation in the television show The Swan while doing doctoral work in religion and literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He teaches photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • William D. Romanowski

    William D. Romanowski is a professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He wrote Pop Culture Wars: Religion and the Role of Entertainment in American Life and Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture.

  • Anthony Burke Smith

    Anthony Burke Smith, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, is author of The Look of Catholics: Portrayals in Popular Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War. He has written about the cultural and political role of Catholics in movies, television and photojournalism in debates about American identity.

  • The Text This Week

    The Text This Week is a website of resources for study and liturgy based on the Revised Common Lectionary. It includes a movie concordance of film scenes pastors can use to illustrate their sermons and lessons. It is run by Jenee Woodard of Jackson, Mich.

  • George Aichele

    George Aichele, professor of philosophy and religion at Adrian College in Adrian, Mich., has written about connections between scripture and film, and about culture, entertainment and the Bible. He’s not so much interested in “Bible movies” that focus on overtly religious or theological themes. He’s interested in the points where biblical text, images, languages and themes appear in popular movies that are otherwise quite “secular,” such as Pleasantville and Minority Report.

  • Roy Anker

    Roy Anker, a longtime professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., is the author of Beautiful Light: Religious Meaning in Film. He has also written about religion and the films of M. Night Shyamalan and the use of artificial intelligence in the films of Steven Spielberg.

  • Alice Bach

    Alice Bach is an associate professor of Catholic studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She has written about the Bible in popular culture and its translation into Hollywood films.

  • David S. Cunningham

    David S. Cunningham is the author of Reading Is Believing: The Christian Faith Through Literature and Film (Brazos Press, 2002), in which he argues that reading books and seeing movies can lead Christians to a deeper faith. He is a professor of religion at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

  • John Lyden

    John Lyden became editor of the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Journal of Religion and Film in 2011. He was professor of religion at Dana College from 1991-2010 and is now director of the Liberal Arts Core at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. Lyden is the author of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals and Rituals and editor of The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. He says that any popular film that affects people’s understanding of war, life and death is arguably religious. Movies, he says, can function religiously, providing a ritualized form of “meaning-making activity” through stories that express values and beliefs about the world.

  • Scot McKnight

    Scot McKnight is Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill. He specializes in films about Jesus and the Orthodox faith. He wrote The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (Paraclete Press, 2004) and is Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University in Chicago. He is co-editor, along with James D.G. Dunn, emeritus professor of biblical studies at Durham University in England, of The Historical Jesus in Recent Research, a collection of essays by leading Bible scholars.

In the West

  • Michael Suman

    Michael Suman is a communications lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and editor of Religion and Prime Time Television (Praeger Publishers, 1997).

  • Suzanne Holland

    Suzanne Holland is a professor in the department of religion at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. She has written about television and radio as public confessionals in the shows of Judge Judy and Dr. Laura.

  • The Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts

    The Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has institutes dedicated to film, dramatic arts, music and expressions of “visual faith.” Each of the institutes has a web page with essays, reviews and criticism.

  • Ted Baehr

    Ted Baehr is founder and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, a ministry that publishes Movieguide: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, which advises Christians about popular culture offerings, including science fiction films.

  • William Dean

    William Dean is a professor emeritus of constructive theology at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He is the author of The American Spiritual Culture and the Invention of Jazz, Football and the Movies (Continuum, 2002).

  • Tim Cain

    Tim Cain is an elder at Kaleo Church in San Diego. The church emphasizes the intersection of religion with pop culture in many of its services and events. The church’s website contains a section on culture, including movie, music and book reviews.

  • Act One

    Act One is a nonprofit that trains Christians for careers in mainstream film and television. It is in Hollywood, Calif.

  • Erin Runions

    Erin Runions is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Pomona College in California. She is a specialist in the Hebrew Bible, which she reads from the perspective of cultural studies and gender and sexuality studies. She has written about the connections between scripture and film.

  • Linda Seger

    Linda Seger has a master’s degree in religion and the arts and is a Hollywood script consultant who has consulted on more than 2,000 projects, including more than 30 produced television projects and 50 completed feature films. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences on religion and the media and is a recipient of a Candlelight award from Regent University for being “a light to the entertainment industry.”

  • Amir Hussain

    Amir Hussain is professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

  • Robert K. Johnston

    Robert K. Johnston is a professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and an expert on film and faith who has written Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue (Baker Book House, 2000). He was director of Fuller’s Brehm Center’s Reel Spirituality Institute for Moving Images.

  • Jeffrey Howard Mahan

    Jeffrey Howard Mahan is a professor of religion and communication at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He is the author of Media, Religion and Culture: An Introduction and Religion and Popular Culture in America.

  • Joseph L. Price

    Joseph L. Price is a professor of religious studies at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. He wrote the article “Religion and American Popular Culture” for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1996) and has taught a course on religion and film. He is the author of the 2006 book Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America and editor of From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion, a collection of 14 essays, six of which Price wrote. They include “The Super Bowl as Religious Festival” and “The Final Four as Final Judgment: The Religious and Cultural Significance of the NCAA Basketball Championship.”

Comics, comic books and comedy

  • Donald E. Capps

    Donald E. Capps is a professor emeritus of pastoral psychology at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. He is the author of A Time to Laugh: The Religion of Humor (Continuum, 2005). Contact 609-497-6442.

    Contact: 609-921-8300.
  • Robert Darden

    Robert Darden was the editor at The Wittenburg Door, a former religious satire magazine that took special pleasure in skewering televangelists. Darden is an journalism professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He can be contacted through Terry Goodrich at 254-710-3321.

  • Buzz Dixon

    Buzz Dixon is the author of Serenity: Bad Girl in Town (Barbour, 2005), a comic book whose publisher believes it is the first Christian-themed manga, a form of Japanese comic book.

  • Greg Garrett

    Greg Garrett is a professor of English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of Holy Superheroes: Exploring Faith and Spirituality in Comic Books and The Gospel According to Hollywood and is co-author, with Chris Seay, of The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix.

  • Mark Graham

    Mark Graham is an associate professor of religious studies at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. He has written a paper on comedy and religious criticism.

  • Jean Graybeal

    Jean Graybeal is a professor at the Gallatin School of Independent Study at New York University. She wrote a chapter called “Cathy on Slenderness, Suffering, and Soul” for God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture (Routledge, 2001).

  • LarkNews.com

    LarkNews.com is a Christian satire website in the style of The Onion. Contact via the website.

  • Kathleen S. Lowney

    Kathleen S. Lowney is a professor of sociology at Valdosta State University in Georgia. She has written about television talk shows and morality.

  • Fedwa Malti-Douglas

    Fedwa Malti-Douglas is a professor of gender studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. She specializes in the study of Arab and Islamic culture and co-authored the book Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture.

  • John Morreall

    John Morreall is a former professor of religious studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He is nationally known for his expertise in religious humor and runs Humorworks in Virginia, a company that provides seminars and workshops on humor for corporations, universities and religious organizations. He says humor is used in all situations to overcome stress emotions, such as fear and anger. He wrote Comedy, Tragedy and Religion (SUNY Press, 1999).

  • Alex Riggle

    Alex Riggle is a devout Greek Orthodox from the Tacoma, Wash., area and creator of The Onion Dome, which pokes fun at Orthodox Christianity.

  • Joseph Telushkin

    Rabbi Joseph Telushkin was spiritual leader of the Synagogue for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. He wrote Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews, as well as several books on Jewish ethics, such as The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living and The Ten Commandments of Character: Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life.

  • Steven Walker

    Steven Walker is a professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He wrote the article “Humor in the Bible” for the journal Perspective (autumn 2003). He has also spoken extensively on the subject.

Children's literature and media

  • Russell W. Dalton

    Russell W. Dalton is professor of religious education at Texas Christian University’s Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, where he teaches a course on faith and film. Dalton is the author of Marvelous Myths: Marvel Superheroes and Everyday Faith and Faith Journey Through Fantasy Lands: A Christian Dialogue with Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. He also has an essay, “Aslan Is on the Move: Images of Providence in Narnia,” in the book Revisiting Narnia.

  • John Granger

    John Granger of Port Hadlock, Wash., is the author of The Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Understanding the Meaning, Genius and Popularity of Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels (Zossima Press, 2002). Read “Harry Beasts,” an excerpt from his book Looking for God in Harry Potter (Tyndale House, 2004), about how the animals in Harry Potter support a Christian reality. It is posted by Christianity Today. Contact John Granger here.

  • Alan Jacobs

    Alan Jacobs is an English professor at Wheaton College in Illinois. An evangelical Christian, he wrote about how Harry Potter’s magic fits with faith in an essay in First Things. He is the author The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, 2005).

  • Connie Neal

    Connie Neal is the author of The Gospel According to Harry Potter: Spirituality in the Stories of the World’s Most Famous Seeker (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) and What’s a Christian to Do With Harry Potter? (Waterbrook Press paperback, 2001). She has also helped churches start Harry Potter Book & Bible Clubs for kids and youth, along with education for their parents.

Literary fiction and science fiction

  • David S. Cunningham

    David S. Cunningham is the author of Reading Is Believing: The Christian Faith Through Literature and Film (Brazos Press, 2002), in which he argues that reading books and seeing movies can lead Christians to a deeper faith. He is a professor of religion at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

  • Lisle Dalton

    Lisle Dalton is an assistant professor of religious studies at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. He has written about religion and The Simpsons.

  • Andrew Flescher

    Andrew Flescher, religion professor at California State University, Chico, has taught a course on religion and film that looks at religion and self in contemporary American society; religion, redemption and recovery; and religion and ethnicity. He also directs the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics, where he focuses on religion, ethics and society. He is the author of The Altruistic Species: Scientific, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives of Human Benevolence.

  • Benedict Giamo

    Benedict Giamo is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. He has written about the spiritual in the works of Jack Kerouac and teaches a course about Kerouac and other Beat writers. He is the co-author of Beyond Homelessness: Frames of Reference (with Jeffrey Grunberg); and author of On the Bowery: Confronting Homelessness in American Society.

  • Jeanne Kilde

    Jeanne Kilde is a professor of religious studies at the University of Minnesota. She has written about the Left Behind series of books.

  • Matthew Hedstrom

    Matthew Hedstrom is an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. He wrote his dissertation on the search for spirituality in mass-market books.

  • John Morden

    John Morden is associate professor of religious studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and the author of The Bop Apocalypse: The Religious Vision of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs (University of Illinois Press, 2001).

     

  • Darren Middleton

    Darren Middleton is an professor in the department of religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He has written about religion in the literature of Nikos Kazantzakis. He says more non-Christian publishers are producing books with religious themes and material. He calls this the “Mel Gibson-Dan Brown effect,” but also says it moves into the non-Christian religions in diaspora by showing up in the work of authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

  • James F. McGrath

    James F. McGrath, a professor of religion at Butler University in Indianapolis, has taught a course called “Religion in Science Fiction.” Read the syllabus and introduction with extensive bibliography and links. He is editor of the book Religion and Science Fiction and co-ditor of a book about religion and the long-running BBC television series Dr. Who. His blog, Religion Prof, sometimes touches on religion and science fiction.

  • Joseph L. Price

    Joseph L. Price is a professor of religious studies at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. He wrote the article “Religion and American Popular Culture” for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1996) and has taught a course on religion and film. He is the author of the 2006 book Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America and editor of From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion, a collection of 14 essays, six of which Price wrote. They include “The Super Bowl as Religious Festival” and “The Final Four as Final Judgment: The Religious and Cultural Significance of the NCAA Basketball Championship.”

  • Erin Smith

    Erin Smith is associate professor of gender studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. She has spoken on the subject of religious book clubs at a conference on religion and the culture of print.

  • Ralph Wood

    Ralph Wood is a professor of theology and literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He has written about the religious themes of writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, P.D. James and others.

Music

  • Ronnie Christian

    Ronnie Christian runs Christian Cowboys and Friends, a cowboy ministry through country music, in Blanco, Texas.

  • James H. Cone

    James H. Cone, Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, is the author of Risks of Faith: The Emergence of a Black Theology of Liberation, 1968-1998. He is widely considered to be one of the founders of black liberation theology, which frames Christianity as a means out of oppression.

  • William Dean

    William Dean is a professor emeritus of constructive theology at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He is the author of The American Spiritual Culture and the Invention of Jazz, Football and the Movies (Continuum, 2002).

  • Erika Doss

    Erika Doss is a professor in the department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She has written about popular culture religious expressions involving Elvis Presley.

  • David Fillingim

    David Fillingim is the author of Redneck Liberation: Country Music as Theology (Mercer University Press, 2003), in which he discusses country music lyrics as the theological expression of a marginalized group, “the Rednecks.” He is a professor at Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina.

  • Michael Gilmour

    Michael Gilmour is an associate professor of New Testament and English Literature at Providence College and Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada. He has taught a course on religious themes in popular music and is the author of Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan and Scripture (Continuum, 2004). He says some people find in music that draws on religious themes an alternative spirituality – a spirituality without the structures of organized religion.

  • Mark Hulsether

    Mark Hulsether, Religious Studies Professor and Director of the American Studies Program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, has written extensively on religion and popular culture. He wrote the 2007 book Religion, Culture and Politics in the Twentieth-Century United States (Edinburgh University Press). He has also written about North American liberation theologies and the transformation of the Protestant left since World War II.

  • Julie Ingersoll

    Julie Ingersoll is an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and can discuss religion and popular culture. She has written about faith and values among Jimmy Buffett fans.

  • Tommy Kyllonen

    Tommy Kyllonen, who also goes by Urban D., is a hip-hop artist and lead pastor at the Tampa, Fla., Crossover Church. The church’s ministry is the hip-hop culture, and worship combines music, dance, visual arts and other media. He has recorded albums, performs concerts and has written a book about hip-hop and the church.

  • Kyle Matthews

    Kyle Matthews is a Dove Award-winning Christian songwriter whose works have been recorded by top Christian artists, including Point of Grace. He lives in Brentwood, Tenn.

    Contact: 864-551-0829.
  • Darren Middleton

    Darren Middleton is an professor in the department of religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He has written about religion in the literature of Nikos Kazantzakis. He says more non-Christian publishers are producing books with religious themes and material. He calls this the “Mel Gibson-Dan Brown effect,” but also says it moves into the non-Christian religions in diaspora by showing up in the work of authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

  • Felicia Miyakawa

    Felicia Miyakawa is a writer and editor interested in music, hip hop, feminism and gender, labor movements and music, among other related topics. She was formerly in assistant professor of musicology at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. She is the author of Five Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message and Black Muslim Mission (Indiana University Press, 2005).

  • Andrea Most

    Andrea Most is the author of Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical (Harvard University Press, 2004), in which she discusses how Jews used the Broadway musical as a means of assimilation during the second quarter of the 20th century. She is a professor of English at the University of Toronto.

  • J. Clinton McCann

    The Rev. J. Clinton McCann is a professor of biblical interpretation at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He has written about religion and popular music.

  • Kate McCarthy

    Kate McCarthy is an associate professor of religious studies at California State University, Chico. She has written about religious expression in rock music, including the music of Bruce Springsteen.

  • James Perkinson

    James Perkinson is professor of ethics and systematic theology at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit.  He has written about religious expression in rap music.

  • Rick Recht

    Jewish rocker Rick Recht of St. Louis considers himself an educator as well as a musician. He plays more than 125 concerts a year and has recorded several Jewish albums and one secular one.

  • Teresa L. Reed

    Teresa L. Reed is the author of The Holy Profane: Religion in Black Popular Music (University Press of Kentucky, 2004), in which she links West-African musical and religious cultures and religious lyrics and themes in African-American blues, rhythm and blues, soul, funk and gangsta rap. She is an associate professor of music at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.

  • William D. Romanowski

    William D. Romanowski is a professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He wrote Pop Culture Wars: Religion and the Role of Entertainment in American Life and Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture.

  • David Rosen

    David Rosen is a professor of Jungian psychology at Texas A&M University in College Station and author of The Tao of Elvis (Harvest Books, 2002), a book of reflections on Elvis and Taoist principles.

  • Ted Swedenburg

    Ted Swedenburg is a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He has done research on popular music, including Islamic and Middle Eastern influences on rap and hip-hop music, and has hosted a world music show on the radio. He can speak about the impact that Muslim young people are having in the world of music.

  • Robin Sylvan

    Robin Sylvan is an adjunct professor of art and religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. He has written about religion and rave culture, popular music, rap and hip-hop.

  • Charles Reagan Wilson

    Charles Reagan Wilson is the author of Judgment & Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis. He is a professor of history and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

Sports and games

  • Rebecca T. Alpert

    Rebecca T. Alpert is a rabbi and an associate professor of religion and women’s studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn. She writes on baseball, queer culture and religion.

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Maine in Orono. He has written about Christ and the Olympics. His books include If Christ Came to the Olympics and Playing With God: Religion and Modern Sport. He argues that religion and sport have made peace with each other.

  • Jeremy Biles

    Jeremy Biles wrote a paper about ritual and salvation in the television show The Swan while doing doctoral work in religion and literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He teaches photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • Allen Bodner

    Allen Bodner is a boxing historian and the author of When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport. His father was a professional boxer. Bodner is an attorney in New York City.

    Contact: 212-344-5633.
  • Christina Cabeen

    Christina Cabeena wrote a paper on Las Vegas and nuns while she was doctoral student at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  • William Dean

    William Dean is a professor emeritus of constructive theology at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He is the author of The American Spiritual Culture and the Invention of Jazz, Football and the Movies (Continuum, 2002).

  • Robert J. Higgs

    Robert J. Higgs is the author of God in the Stadium: Sports and Religion in America (University Press of Kentucky, 1995) and co-author of An Unholy Alliance: The Sacred and Modern Sports (Mercer University Press, 2004). Contact via Mercer University Press.

    Contact: 478-301-2880.
  • Allen E. Hye

    Allen E. Hye is the author of The Great God Baseball: Religion in Modern Baseball Fiction (Mercer University Press, 2004). He was a professor of Danish and German at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Popular Culture Association.

  • Tony Ladd

    Tony Ladd is athletic director at Trinity International University and co-author of Muscular Christianity: Evangelical Protestants and the Development of American Sport (Baker Books, 1999).

  • Joseph L. Price

    Joseph L. Price is a professor of religious studies at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. He wrote the article “Religion and American Popular Culture” for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1996) and has taught a course on religion and film. He is the author of the 2006 book Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America and editor of From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion, a collection of 14 essays, six of which Price wrote. They include “The Super Bowl as Religious Festival” and “The Final Four as Final Judgment: The Religious and Cultural Significance of the NCAA Basketball Championship.”

Computers, video games and other technology

  • Rachel Wagner

    Rachel Wagner is an associate professor of religion and philosophy at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. She has taught courses on religion and video games and is interested in the ways video and computer games depict rituals and sacred space, such as churches and cemeteries.

Arts and crafts

  • Corky Kuhlman

    Corky Kuhlman is the president of The Prayer Quilt Ministry, commonly known as Prayers & Squares, an international ministry that performs quilting as a form of intercessory prayer.

  • Barbara Brewer Davis

    Barbara Brewer Davis is the co-author of With Sacred Threads: Quilting and the Spiritual Life (Pilgrim Press, 2000) and an avid quilter.

  • Carolyn Mazloomi

    Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi is a quilter whose work is included in the Smithsonian Museum’s collection. She is the founder and director of the Women of Color Quilters Network. She was the co-curator of a quilt show titled “Threads of Faith” at the American Bible Society in New York City. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

  • Bernadette Murphy

    Bernadette Murphy is the author of Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality and Creativity (Adams Media Corp., 2002). She is a fiction writer and instructor at Antioch University in Los Angeles.

  • Linda T. Skolnik

    Linda T. Skolnik is co-author of The Knitting Way: A Guide to Spiritual Self-Discovery (Skylight Paths, 2005). Skolnik is the former owner of Patternworks, a knitting company, in Center Harbor, New Hampshire.

Other

  • Dane Claussen

    Dane Claussen is James Pedas professor of communication, Executive Director of the James Pedas Communication Center, and Chair of the department of media, comm. and public relations  at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. He is an expert on Promise Keepers and other “masculine Christianity” movements.

     

  • Donna Freitas

    Donna Freitas has taught religious studies at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. She has written about the spirituality of dating and chastity. She wrote Sex & the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses (2008) and co-wrote Save the Date: A Spirituality of Dating, Love, Dinner and the Divine.

  • James Lewis

    James R. Lewis is a lecturer in religious studies in the philosophy department at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is the editor of Scientology (March 2009), described as a comprehensive examination of the church’s theology, growth and controversies.

  • Gordon Lynch

    Gordon Lynch is the Michael Ramsey professor of modern theology at the University of Kent. He is the author of Understanding Theology and Popular Culture (Blackwell, 2005).

  • Karal Ann Marling

    Karal Ann Marling is a professor of art history at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She has written about religion and Disney, the American highway, Elvis, Christmas and the Vietnam Memorial.

  • Patrick A. Polk

    Patrick A. Polk is a lecturer in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2004, he was the guest curator of an exhibit at the Fowler Muesum on roadside religious displays found throughout Los Angeles.

  • Sally Promey

    Sally Promey is professor of religion and visual culture, professor of American studies,  and deputy director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale. She wrote a book about the public display of religion in the United States.

  • Rich Remsberg

    Rich Remsberg is a documentary photographer who lives in North Adams, Mass., and is the author of Riders for God: The Story of a Christian Motorcycle Gang (University of Illinois Press, 2000).

  • Dick Staub

    Dick Staub is a radio show host who runs Staublog, a blog in which he rates films, television and other forms of entertainment for its religious and moral value. He is based in Seattle.

Related source guides

If you would like to suggest a source to add to this guide, please email: editor (at) religionlink (dot) org.  Please include the source’s name, title, area of expertise, web page if there is one, phone number and email.