Book Recommendations for Theology and Pop Culture?

I am in the midst of putting together a proposed syllabus for an introductory Theology and Pop Culture course and would love suggestions/feedback on the best/worst books on the subject. I was thinking of using these 3 as primary texts:


Detweiler, Craig and Barry Taylor. A matrix of meanings : finding
God in pop culture
. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2003.

Romanowski, William. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in
Popular Culture
. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007.


Turnau, Ted. Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective. Philipsburg, NJ:
P&R Publishing, 2012.

(I haven’t read too much of Turnau’s book, but it’s been comparatively well reviewed.)

And possibly this one:

Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles A. Anderson, and Michael J. Sleasman, eds. Everyday theology: how to read cultural texts and interpret trends. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Here are some other contenders for inclusion, some of which I have read, some of which I have not; any thoughts or suggestions?

Beaujon, Andrew. Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock.
Cambridge, MA: De Capo, 2006.

Breen, Tom. The Messiah formerly known as Jesus : dispatches from the intersection of
Christianity and pop culture
. Waco, Tex. : Baylor University Press, 2008.

Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity, 2008.

Culbertson, Philip and Elaine M. Wainwright. The Bible In/And Popular Culture: A
Creative Encounter
. Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2010.

Dark, David. Everyday Apocalypse : the sacred revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and
other pop culture icons
. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, c2002.

___________. The sacredness of questioning everything. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,

Dyrness, William A. Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life. Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.

Forbes, Bruce David, and Jeffrey H. Mahan. Religion and Popular Culture in America.
Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005.

Hartse, Joel Heng. Sects, Love and Rock & Roll: My Life on Record. Eugene, OR: Cascade
Books, 2011.

Johnston, Robert K., Craig Detweiler, and Barry Taylor, eds. Don’t stop believin’ : pop
culture and religion from Ben-Hur to zombies
. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John
Knox Press, 2012.

Lynch, Gordon, ed. Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular
. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

___________. Understanding Theology and Popular Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell,

Marsh, Clive. “On Dealing with What Films Actually Do to People.” Reframing Theology
and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline
. Edited by Robert K. Johnston.
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007.

___________, with Vaughan S. Roberts. Personal Jesus: How Popular Music Shapes Our Souls.
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Mattingly, Terry. Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture. Thomas Nelson, 2005.

McClure, John S. Mashup Religion: Pop Music and Theological Invention. Waco, TX:
Baylor University Press, 2011.

Romanowski, William D. Pop culture wars : religion & the role of entertainment in
American life
. Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Scharen, Christian. Broken Hallelujahs: Why Popular Music Matters to Those Seeking
. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011.

Turnau, Ted. “Popular Culture, Apologetics and the Discourse of Desire,” Cultural
8:2 (2012).

Walsh, Brian. Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination.
     Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011. (for a little Canadian content!)



  • Ted Turnau

    Hi Brett, thanks for considering my book. The most theoretically sophisticated statement is “Popular Cultural ‘Worlds’ as Alternative Religions” in Christian Scholars Review. You should also check out Brian Godawa’s work, both “Hollywood Worldviews” and “Myth Became Fact” (the last chapter has a great meditation on horror film as a way of better understanding the supernatural). You might want to check out Cobb, “Blackwell Companion to Theology and Popular Culture.” I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen interesting excerpts. Sounds like a fascinating class – hope it goes well! Peace, Ted Turnau

  • craig detweiler

    How did the class go and did our book prove helpful? Thanks for including us in the mix… Craig Detweiler