Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet

The Pirate Planet is not an episode that only die hard Doctor Who fans should watch. Written by Douglas Adams, this second episode in the Key to Time sequence is full of the humor one would expect if one is familiar with his other writing. It features not only the robot dog that you have already come to know and love, but also a robot parrot, and robotic dog and parrot facing off against one another. But it also has the quite… Read more

Lucian of Samosata’s Science Fiction

I have been meaning to blog about Lucian of Samosata since Lorraine Boissoneault wrote an article about him for Smithsonian magazine towards the end of last year. It discusses the question of whether Lucian’s work fits the genre of science fiction, discussing other contenders for the “first work of science fiction” such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Johannes Kepler’s novel Somnium, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. There is also a very good article about Lucian in ARAMCO World. It highlights his identity as a native speaker of Syriac,… Read more

Opening for Scholarly Communications Librarian at Butler University

One of the many job openings listed on the Butler website at the moment: Scholarly Communication Librarian  Position Overview Butler University Libraries invite applications for a Scholarly Communication Librarian, a 12-month, non-tenured (continuing appointment) position with the rank of assistant professor, reporting to the Associate Dean for Collections and Digital Services. The Scholarly Communication Librarian position provides leadership for scholarly communication and digital scholarship initiatives at Butler University Libraries. Scholarly communication is a strategic priority for Butler Libraries and this… Read more

Community Baptist Church

I don’t see the problem, necessarily. It is true that few Baptist churches – and perhaps no Baptist churches in our time – are “Communist Churches.” But the meme seems to assume that they could not be, as though there were inherently something unthinkable about the idea. And while that may be true of Marxist/Leninist Communism, which had a distinctly anti-religious bent to it, the Communist Manifesto itself mentions other already-existing forms of communism, among with are Christian varieties. What… Read more

Terrible Review of What Sounds Like a Terrible Book

The quotations in the image below, which is embedded in the review of David Fitzgerald’s latest (three-volume!) book of half-baked and poorly-argued nonsense that appeared on the blog Debunking Christianity, is supposed to boil down what is positive about his books to their essence. But in fact it illustrates his inability to recognize when he doesn’t have a valid point and/or is not making a logical, reasoned argument. Here is the image: Let’s consider each of the two points above. First,… Read more

Illicit Antiquities Educational Games?

The illegal smuggling of antiquities has been in the news a lot lately (although it has never been entirely absent in living memory, alas). I wonder whether there are games that could be used to teach about this topic in a manner that is fun, and yet does not reward players for doing things that are illegal and/or immoral – or, if it does, at least brings the ethical issues into the player’s conscious awareness in the process. Thebes is one that looks particularly… Read more Changes Hands

I received the following from Andrew Bernhard about a site that he has maintained for many years: Thank you to all who have visited my site during the past twenty years. I am humbled by the attention it has received and grateful for the opportunities it has provided me to connect with interesting people around the world. I am now pleased to pass on to Mark Mattison. I have been impressed by his dedication, as an independent scholar,… Read more

Super Smash Gods Brawl

I had this game, “Fight of Gods,” drawn to my attention. It seems to take the “Buff Jesus” meme image and turn it into a video game. If you don’t know the image I’m referring to, here it is: This way of thinking about Jesus – or ignoring him and substituting other symbols – seems to be growing in popularity in certain circles. Someone recently told me to Google “Deus Vult” as an image search, if I wanted to discover a whole… Read more

National Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association Conference: Coming to Indianapolis

I’m really excited about the fact that the major conference in the study of popular culture will be held here in Indianapolis in 2018. It is one that I have long wanted to attend, but given my diverse research and teaching interests (Biblical studies, science fiction, the Mandaeans, music, gaming, and more), I can’t get to every conference that would be of interest. Below is the call for papers for the program unit about games (HT RelCFP). I have developed an academically-useful… Read more

Suffering and Stupid Theology

I was already planning to share this graph by cartoonist David Hayward well before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, and even before my wife heard some Romanian pastors talking about what God’s aim had been in causing the deaths of their children. It certainly reflects my own experience, but it is still worth stopping to ask why it should be the case that, as suffering gets worse, so too do the theological pronouncements that many people come up with. Is is simply that… Read more

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