Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sci-Fi Film and Theology: Introduction

Moon - Duncan Jones (2009)

When a person engages with a work of art, a conversation occurs between the person and the work of art, the art itself an act of disclosure on the part of the artist. God is also involved in this conversation - God is invested not only in the physical stuff of the art and the totality of the person, but also in the relationship that forms in the conversation. Wilson Yates describes the encounter between the artwork and the interpreter: "In this process the task for the interpreter is to 'see' the work of art and engage it in dialogue rather than simply 'look' at the work of art and remain detached from it or treat it only as an object for other ends... At its best, this process becomes, as I am suggesting, a dialogical engagement in which you and the work interact with each of you responding and embodying the other."1 Such an epistemological method moves us beyond the objectivist approach of separating ourselves as subject from an object we are considering. By seeing the interconnectedness of all subjects and objects, we become more laid back in our approach to knowledge, more open, loving, and caring. We embrace mystery and life's ambiguity.

In the following weeks, this dialogical method will inform my approach to the worlds of science fiction film and theology. I will be engaging theological questions such as 'What does it mean to be human?' and 'How should we relate to our technologies?' by putting into conversation sci-fi films and theological texts that address the questions. I am no expert at theology, nor at sci-fi film, and in some ways I see this as an advantage. The ideal is to step into the worlds created by the sci-fi films and theology texts and be open enough to allow transformation as a possibility for the conversation. Therefore I do not offer any hypotheses as to how this conversation will go or where it will end up. I start with questions and texts to provide a starting point and I make a hunch that theology and sci-fi films have something to say to each other. Since learning never happens best in isolation, I will be watching as many films as possible with other people to bring other conversation partners to the table.

This statement of purpose is rather formal, and the hope is that this blog will NOT be too formal, but I find it helpful to lay out these original objectives. Let the conversation begin!

1Wilson Yates, "A Model for Interpreting a Work of Art." From a classroom handout in TR 246: Theological Reflection on 20th Century Art. Class taken at United Theological Seminary, Fall 2009.

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