One of the greatest things about the Cornerstone Festival is hanging out with all manner of cool and interesting folks from all over the world, and this year’s festival was no different.
Part of that was due to my status as a speaker this year: folks naturally come up to you after seminars and screenings with questions and additional thoughts. However, I also got a chance to meet up again with some familiar faces, as well as several of the other speakers from Imaginarium and Flickerings, such as Mike Hertenstein (the man behind Flickerings) and Paul Nethercott (a missionary in Japan who is working with the hikikomori there).
John Morehead (no relation) is another. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to one of his sessions — a Q&A session with several missionaries on how the Church needs to adapt its message to reach fringe groups and whatnot. (The other session of his, on role-playing games, was sort of nixed due to the post-film discussion for Darkon).
John recently sent me the URL for his blog TheoFantastique, and while I’ve only had a small amount of time to make my way through it, it’s already shot to the top of my reading list. TheoFantastique is, as the subtitle suggests, “a blog devoted to the enjoyment and exploration of the imagination and creativity as expressed through science fiction, fantasy, and horror.” However, these aren’t just fanboy rants and raves. Rather, John gets serious about his pop culture… real serious.
Not only will you find academic explorations on topics ranging from depictions of Satan in cinema (including a review of a book by Nikolas Schreck, son-in-law of Church Of Satan founder Anton LaVey) to the exploration of horror in video games, but you’ll find interviews interviews with folks like comic artist Richard Moore (creator of Far West and Boneyard) and Arnold Kunert (who was involved with Ray Harryhausen’s classic films).
John’s also a fan of anime, as this recent interview with Bill Ellis — an associate professor of English and American Studies at Penn State — shows. The interview is very fascinating, and delves into the increasing popularity of anime in America as well as the spiritual underpinnings of the artform — underpinnings that many Americans are ignorant of, but once understood, can add a whole new level of detail to titles like Haibane Renmei and Hellsing.
All in all, a highly recommended blog to bookmark/subscribe to — especially if you’re like me, a Christian who is heavily interested in the various permutations of pop culture and takes such things seriously, but is often frustrated by the rest of the Church’s reactions to such things.
In addition to TheoFantastique, John is also part of the Neighboring Faiths Project (which seeks to find effective ways of communicating the Gospel to other religions and alternative spiritualities such as neo-paganism) and has written several books such as Encountering New Religious Movements (which won a Christianity Today Book Award in 2005).