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Site of the Week – SF Gospel


You can credit Philip K. Dick, in a way, for inspiring Gabriel Mckee to start his blog SF Gospel, which “explores the ways in which religious ideas manifest in popular media,” or where can you find God in science fiction? Though he grew up on the usual science fiction diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, superhero comics, etc., it wasn’t until he read Dick’s VALIS (a fictional description of the author’s religious experiences in the mid-’70’s) that he got interested in both science fiction and religion. “Reading PKD really trained me to search for religious themes in all science fiction — and the genre rewards that search very well,” says Mckee, the author of The Gospel According to Science Fiction (2007) and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School.

Take Children of Men.
On the face of it, the film — which stars Clive Owen, Julianne Moore
and Michael Caine — is about the end of the world, where no children
have been born for 18 years and it looks like the human race is going
to die out, according to Mckee. “When a child is born, the messianic
implications are clear — actively or passively, the child is a living
symbol of renewal,” explains Mckee, who has cycled from Catholicism to
atheism to studying religion and theology to Presbyterianism. He
compares the movie to the Bible’s Book of Revelation: “It seems to
focus on all the terrible stuff, but what it’s really about is the
happy ending, the New Jerusalem.” Popular posts on SF Gospel include
his list of “Four-Color Theophanies: Ten comic book characters who have
met God” and an essay on Serenity, “‘When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?’ What Serenity
believes in.” And his posts don’t always have a religious overtone. See:
“The 10 best (and 5 worst) science fiction theme tunes.”

But, in the end, Mckee — who is particularly interested in medieval
theology, mystical literature and assorted heresies — believes “most
stories have some element that can be read through a religious lens.
Like it or not, the Bible is the basis of most Western literature, and
by extension our ideas of what a story should include are shaped by
that model.” And, “at heart, science fiction and religion are about the
same thing– speculation about the unknown,” he says. “At their best,
SF and religion both try to peek behind the veil of reality to give us
a better understanding of ourselves, and to create a better future.”

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