October 30, 2023

I didn’t know what to expect from my first time at Theology Beer Camp. In short, I was blown away by what an impressive model it offered of doing and being church in a manner that is progressive and open. My own talk was about theology in Doctor Who and Star Trek so I dressed for the occasion. There was a whole separate “geek stage” where the programming had this sort of focus. Podcaster Ryan Does shared this photo from... Read more

October 23, 2023

I have been working on rectifying one of the gaps in my Star Trek viewing. Until Strange New Worlds did its Lower Decks crossover episode, I hadn’t watched any of that animated series. I am thus one of very few people for whom Lower Decks is a bit like Clone Wars is for Star Wars, an animated depiction of characters that I have a real-world image of from the outset. There’s a lot that’s entertaining. If you haven’t watched it,... Read more

October 19, 2023

I have long wanted to teach a course in which I could give Octavia Butler’s novels The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents the detailed attention they deserve. For anyone interested in the intersection of religion and science fiction, these novels are inevitably going to be fascinating. The main character, Lauren Olamina, is the daughter of a Christian minister but ends up creating her own religion called Earthseed. The text that collects her sayings and insights comes to... Read more

October 17, 2023

Today’s the day! The official release day for The A to Z of the New Testament is here. I am told, and you may have heard as well, that sales on Amazon on the official release day of a book are what makes the most difference in their algorithm when it comes to identifying and promoting something as a new bestseller. Want to find out if it is true? Buy your copy today and let’s see what happens! If you want... Read more

October 16, 2023

From the Society of Biblical Literature: The following statement has been approved by majority vote of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Council. The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) vigorously condemns the terrorist attacks in Israel initiated by Hamas on October 7, 2023. The slaughter of innocents, taking of hostages, wanton destruction, and the ongoing atrocities against civilian non-combatants are horrific and opposed to the values we espouse as human beings and as a professional society dedicated to the advancement of... Read more

October 16, 2023

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 quite a bit after it came out, but watching movies was one of the things I set aside during my sabbatical. I’m glad I didn’t forget to go back to it and get caught up, because as you’ll know if you’ve seen it, the movie is explicitly theological in its message in very interesting ways. That’s vague enough to not constitute a spoiler, but I’ll say at this point that in what follows... Read more

October 11, 2023

I will be doing an AMA on Reddit on Friday, October 13th at 1pm EST. This won’t excite you much if you are a regular reader of my blog, I imagine, since you could always ask me anything right here. Still, feel free to join in, and to help spread the word. Here’s the link for your convenience: [AMA Announcement] Dr. James McGrath | October 13 – 1pm EST byu/Mormon-No-Moremon inAcademicBiblical I would also like to implore my regular blog... Read more

October 9, 2023

In my class on the Bible and Music, one of the topics is bringing texts together from different parts of the Bible into a new work, in which those fragments have a new context and thus take on a new meaning. We look at examples such as Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice, and Herbert Howells’ Hymnus Paradisi. It provides an opportunity to think about what is involved in this process, and how it relates not... Read more

October 4, 2023

My latest fun interaction with Chat-GPT was prompted by an assignment in my course on the Bible and Music. One of the activities is a scavenger hunt in which students look for allusions to the Bible in popular music. I mentioned Chat-GPT as likely to produce results that could be usefully different from what one finds by asking Google and then following links. I also mentioned that it would likely generate songs that do not exist and/or list songs that... Read more

October 2, 2023

I am continuing to experiment with, and attend workshops and seminars about, the use of AI in higher education. I don’t think that a tool like ChatGPT can serve as a reliable and effective tutor in the humanities, if by tutor we mean someone who can be a helpful with regard to information and methods, two things that an AI has no capacity to provide. However, in a recent workshop at my university I was led in the direction of some... Read more

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