About J. Ryan Parker

Cross Roads: Faith and Film Renewal, Tribeca Overview


Faith and film pilgrim and new Pop Theology contributor Kenny Dickson gives us an overview of a selection of films at this year's Tribeca Film Festival that take oppression and individuals' efforts to break free as their central themes.  … [Read more...]

Cross Roads: Faith and Film Renewal, Day 1


We're excited to welcome a new contributor to Pop Theology. A good friend and colleague, Kenny Dickson is pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch, TX (Dallas) and lover of all things film. He's just begun a sabbatical which will include trips to both Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals and a pilgrimage, of sorts, to some of the great film sites in Europe. We're lucky to have him chronicling his journey with us here at Pop Theology and the larger Patheos community. His first post … [Read more...]

Raging Devil: DAREDEVIL and the Failure of Imagination


Posts have been sparse on Pop Theology over the last few months. Richard and I are working to correct that. Of course, with constant Netflix series either releasing or returning and the impending tidal wave of summer blockbusters, we have our work cut out for us. Over the weekend, I finished the new critically-acclaimed Netflix series, Daredevil. I loved it, even though it was a failure...of a sort. Warning: spoilers galore. … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Ex Machina


Alex Garland's Ex Machina, his first as writer and director, proves that you don't need eight-figure budgets to make a smart, thrilling sci-fi film, although seamless CGI still helps.  … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief


Alex Gibney's latest film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, feels more like a horror film than a documentary. Scientology survivors' accounts of their time in the cult (I refuse to call it a church) are almost beyond belief. While it lacks elements that could have made it a great doc, it's still a must-see film that exposes one of the more bizarre and surprisingly successful (?) cults of the 20th and early 21st centuries. … [Read more...]



I've got a Godfather 3 type relationship with the church. Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in. Communities and people of faith have serendipitously entered my life--or I theirs--at moments when I was just about to give up on the whole thing. Tony Jones is one of those people and his new book, did God Kill Jesus: Looking for Love in History's Most Famous Execution, is one of those rare texts that is both informative and inspirational. It's given me fresh eyes with which to see the c … [Read more...]



The recent Oscar-nominated foreign language film, Timbuktu, is the most important film of the decade. I know that such comments often sound like grandstanding, but I'm actually tempering my praise. It could be one of the most important films of any decade. With the rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism in ISIL, Timbuktu's story couldn't be more timely, but the ways in which writer/director Abderrahmane Sissako tells his story give it a timelessness that only the most talented of directors can ac … [Read more...]

Disquiet Time: A Review


It’s been a long time since I’ve had a productive streak of quiet times: portions of the day devoted to scripture reading and prayer. From a young age, I was indoctrinated into the importance of said practices. We even had to check off boxes on the outside of our offering envelopes to let the world know we had been faithful stewards of our time. I feel a little guilty…sometimes. … [Read more...]