Monday, 7 March 2011

Journal of Religion and Film

Journal of Religion and Film: I just ran into this very interesting University of Nebraska journal via the MetaFilter thread Shinto Perspectives in "Spirited Away".

Even in secular Western culture, religion is still deeply intertwined with cultural memes and the tropes of storytelling, such as representations of good and evil in film, as the statement of purpose explains:

The Journal of Religion and Film examines
the description, critique, and embodiment of religion in film.

Many films, directly or indirectly, serve a "religious" purpose. Like religions, they present meanings that people give to life. They portray people and the values people embrace in life. The films themselves, then, are a part of the fundamental religious "struggle with the ultimate problems of human life."

Articles in the JR & F, then, are not restricted to a denominational list that equates religion with a commonly accepted set of rituals, beliefs, and laws. "Religion," in contemporary times and in the issues of the Journal, is much more personal and interactive than that. It is the living of values constructed in a dialogue between an individual and a culture. A particular worldview is received, adjusted, reapplied, and lived by the individual.

So the JR & F will consider not only films that explicitly highlight traditional religious images and themes. Although there will be analysis of films that consider such religious themes as sacred space, sacred times, savior-figures, images of god(s), and battles between good and evil, there also will be investigation of notions and assumptions that underlie everyday, "secular," human talk and action.

Better still, JR & F is free-access.  Check out its index of films.

Just skimming, the "A" section I find: "Angels Carrying Savage Weapons:" Uses of the Bible in Contemporary Horror Films, by Mary Ann Beavis; Mozart & Salieri, Cain & Abel: A Cinematic Transformation of Genesis 4, by Gregory Allen Robbins; The Devil We Already Know: Medieval Representations of a Powerless Satan in Modern American Cinema, by Kelly J. Wyman; Archetypes on Screen: Odysseus, St. Paul, Christ and the American Cinematic Hero and Anti-Hero, by John Fitch, III; Anti-feminism in Recent Apocalyptic Film by Joel W. Martin; Any Gods Out There? Perceptions of Religion from Star Wars and Star Trek by John S. Schultes; and James Cameron's Cathedral: Avatar Revives the Religious Spectacle by Craig Detweiler.

- Ray

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