Sunday, February 26, 2017

Podcast #011 - Religious Fandom & Spiritual Head Canon

"Religious Fandom & Spiritual Head Canon"

On this super-sized episode, Emily & Professor Alan talk about some of the similarities between religion and pop culture fandom.

Then they spend most of the episode talking about their own individual faith journeys, doubts, beliefs, questions, and oddball notions. 

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

You may also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or the RSS Feed.

Link: The music of The Choir
Link: The music of Iona
Link: The music of Anderson Cale

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan


  1. Another wonderful and thought provoking episode. It's another case where I'm wired so completely differently from what's being discussed, while still finding it fascinating. I don't just mean religiously, with me being a non-believer who's never fallen into a religion (not even New Atheism), but how I've never really fallen into fandoms throughout my geek life. Even things I really enjoy, I've never latched onto with the dedication and focus that fandom calls for, especially the unified canon. On the contrary, I love thing that have a broad variety of interpretations which create a broader picture of that thing as a whole, not just through their points of intersection and where they line up with my personal enjoyment, but through their opposing points and where they stray down paths that aren't for me.

    A good example is Transformers. There's eras I like, eras I don't, but the scale of 30+ different continuities and timelines is something I find appealing, some running parallel, some looping back for a fresh start, some hearkening back to earlier eras, some created as a response in direct opposition to earlier eras. There's times when Optimus Prime lines up from version to version, times when he's wildly different. Times on Earth, times in space. Times aimed at children, times aimed at adults. It's this whole broader field of a thing which I find fascinating. And even lifting beyond it to a broader map, how they fit into the 80s/90s toyline era as a whole. How the partnership with anime studios who at times ran off with the property in their own direction play into not only anime as a whole, but the US/Japan exchange of pop culture as a whole. How the classic Marvel run of the comic (which itself has half a dozen branching continuities when you factor in the UK releases) fits into Marvel comics as a whole and their relationship with Sunbow animation, which fit into the broader market of 80s cartoons. How everyone hates Bayformers, yet it plays a massive role in modern-day franchise blockbusters and how their financial success flooded the franchise and Hasbro as a whole and allowed further variances to flourish.

    This is the reason I like remakes/sequels/prequels/what have you, because the more variances on a thing increases my fascination with exploring it. This is why I don't have a favorite comic character because, even within a shared continuity, the quality and take on a character is entirely dependent on which team is telling their stories at a time. This is why I like doing projects going through the entire works of creators, in order, and cover everything alongside just their popular stuff, because you get to see how all of them laid out together tell the broader story of the person, which can be held against the broader landscape of other stories released along that era.

    I've dipped into religions, read many of the major texts, and while I find them fascinating to look at historically, philosophically, and narratively, especially in how they branch along societal developments over time, I've never fallen into any of them as a fandom, so to speak. And even looking at the broader connections, they Truths that they're exploring and sharing are just not what clicks with me and what I believe, and where my fascination lies.

    1. If we have provoked thought, then we count that as a success!

      We love your take on fandom, both the creator-focused kind, and the start-to-finish, "let's see how this has developed over time" kind. To spin that over to religion, maybe that's akin to our interest in "church history," the notion of how this has developed, evolved, reformed over time.

      Faith and fandom ... for both, it takes all kinds!