From Dendrotheology to Dune by Way of Wakanda

From Dendrotheology to Dune by Way of Wakanda August 30, 2020

Here’s a variety of things that I want to highlight, whether in connection with my course on Religion and Science Fiction or at least closely even if tangentially related to it. First, let me draw attention to a short story that is quite wonderful and theologically rich. It is by Philip Purser-Hallard and is called “Dendrotheology.” I’ve put it on my syllabus for my Religion and Science Fiction class this semester, and if you saw my earlier post in which I shared the reading list, it is on there. But this story is short, free, and theologically interesting, and so I want to highlight it.

I’m going to have to watch Raised by Wolves. I’m glad IO9 drew it to my attention. I also found some older articles and interviews with much that is interesting and relevant. For instance, here is N. K. Jemisin on religion in her stories and in general: “I don’t at all agree that superstitions are old religious beliefs downgraded to suit newer, dominant religious beliefs. Superstition can have nothing to do with religion, as I noted with my Red Sox example. Rather, I think superstitions, and religions too, are simply human nature. We’re a species that ascribes meaning to everything around it — life and death, the position of the stars, observed patterns, random events. Sometimes the meanings we ascribe have empirical value, sometimes intrinsic value, and sometimes they’re complete BS. None of that will ever stop us from seeking meaning, though — or at least, I hope not. Because I think the same human impulse that generates superstition also generates fiction and other forms of creativity. Without meaning we can’t have stories, and stories are what fantasy is all about. The only personal influences that have shaped my approach toward religion are human history. Every belief system on this planet is syncretic to some degree. Even modern atheism didn’t appear as a burning bush, or spring fully-formed from somebody’s forehead; it’s the logical consequence of rationalism and historical analysis. Maybe the first religion ever created was pure, but everything since then’s been a moocher. All of them incorporate previous belief systems, or common understandings of the world that are treated as gospel truth — science, sexism, sociology – whether they admit it or not…”

Author Alma Alexander on Frank Herbert’s classic series:

‘Dune’ taught me about love, hate, and messiahs …

The Surprising Native American Religious Backstory of Wakanda

Pastors talk of spiritual themes in Black Panther

Are we already living in a tech dystopia?

There’s a new podcast, All The Asians on Star Trek

Studies in the History of Astronomy

I had this blog post scheduled, with its mention of Black Panther, before the news broke that the star of the film Chadwick Boseman had died after a long battle with cancer. I couldn’t mention the franchise without paying tribute to its star.

And the link that’s most tangentially related: a blog post from several years ago about whether pre-Adamic Nephilim had souls. Since debates about beings having souls are the purview of sci-fi, I thought i should finally get around to sharing the link here…even if it is five years later than I intended!


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