The Simpsons, Christianity, and American Culture
This book will discuss how The Simpsons articulates a ‘systematic theology’ that blends important elements of contemporary American religious culture with a clear critique of the institutions and individuals that participate in and uphold that culture. Even though The Simpsons is clearly a product of American popular culture, its writers offer up a well-planned, theologically astute religious climate in the cartoon world of Springfield. This world mirrors America in a way that allows the show’s viewers to recognize that Christianity can hold together a family and a town that is rife with ‘sin,’ broadly speaking, while at the same time exposing these very shortcomings.
The show's approach is postmodern insofar as it requires viewers to understand the web of self-referential critiques that the writers insert into the show’s narrative fabric. These points are not obvious all the time, which is why Jamey Heit will lift out this theological web from the hundreds of episodes that constitute The Simpsons. The book thus provides a framework that will allow readers to explore these issues in the show for themselves.
The Springfield Reformation will evaluate specific elements of Theology’s traditional roster of concerns as they appear in The Simpsons. The goal of the book is to argue that The Simpsons is not only a legitimate theological voice, but also to argue that this voice offers a valuable addition to discussions about Christianity in America. Heit focuses on distinct topics such as: God, the soul/the afterlife, prayer, the Christian ethic, Faith (particularly in response to the question of why bad things happen to good people), Evangelism, and Science versus Religion. He evaluates how the show approaches each topic in the context of contemporary Christianity and, more specifically, how the concept fits in the show’s wider ‘systematic theology. And he explores connections between various episodes, discussing how these connections, often the result of distinct religious personalities vis-à-vis different characters, exhibit an honest critique of Christianity in America.
- Taking Stock of Christianity in The Simpsons
- A Televised Sunday Evening Service: Postmodernism and The Simpsons
- Saints, Sinners, and Salvation: A Spiritual Survey of Springfield
- A True Class Act: God in The Simpsons
- Re-reading the Good Book: Biblical Representation and Authority in The Simpsons
- A Bunch of Black Sheep: Reverend Lovejoy and Springfield's Congregation
- Who is my Neighbor? Ned Flanders and Evangelical Christianity
- The Only Gate Out of Town: Springfield's Spiritual Wanderers
- Decreasing Returns: Economics and Faith in The Simpsons
- Reason's Revenge: Science Confronts Christianity in Springfield
- A Concluding Trumpet Blast: Taking Christianity Seriously, At Least in Springfield
- Selected Bibliography
- Episode Guide (throught Season 18)