Colbert and Back Again: “Hobbit Week” with Stephen Colbert

stephen colbert middle america

Saika and Bacula already know this about me, as does anyone who has ever seen me in person, but I am a massive fan of The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert. The word “fan” can’t even begin to encapsulate the incredible amount of admiration I have for this man. So I think I can be excused this reaction when Saika helpfully tried to inform me that Stephen had a cameo in Peter Jackson’s forthcoming “Hobbit” series:

Saika: Hey, Colbert has a cameo in The Hobbit, red alert!

Luce: I SAW THE NEWS EARLIER TODAY AND FREAKED OUT LIKE I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING I’M SO HAPPY FOR HIM IT CHANGED HIS WHOLE LIFE AND HE LOVES IT SO MUCH THAT’S THE DREAM

Saika: Hahaha, Luce, I’m like crying at your reaction. Did you weep, Agent Romanov?!

Spoiler: I did.

But what’s important here is that Stephen is a massive, massive geek who loves Lord of the Rings more than is entirely healthy. His favorite character (and mine) is Faramir, Aragorn once showed up at his studio to tell him to run for president, and he’s probably the only person in the world to ever be gifted both the Captain America shield and one of the original replicas of Sting. And so I was particularly excited to see that Stephen was going to be hosting a week of Hobbit-themed shows in preparation for the release of The Hobbit.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus!

This may surprise you, dear reader, but Jesus, he’s in your house! Wait, don’t freak out. I meant, he’s on your TV and not just on EWTN or the 700 Club—I don’t think Jesus would participate in the 700 Club anyway.

Religion is everywhere. Oh, we might like to fool ourselves into thinking we have our entertainment in a separate sphere from our religion, but any author, director, or actor will tell you that they bring something of themselves and their own beliefs to the story.

Even TV shows, movies, and books that seem like they have no religion in them usually have some sort of philosophy they are trying to impart, and those philosophies often have their roots in some kind of religious tradition. Even books like the Golden Compass which supports atheistic values still says something about religion.

I think it’s time that we sat down and really take a look at what our pop culture is trying to say about religion, because they say a lot more than you probably realize.

First, let me say something about my own social location. I have a Bachelor’s in theology, particularly Catholic theology, though I also have some background in Protestantism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. I know some things about Islam, Shintoism, and Taoism but have never been formally educated in them. I tend to be a more progressive Catholic and even have certain views that I would not say are very Catholic at all, so I guess I’m still finding my path, but on the way I have learned quite a bit.

Why am I telling you this? Well, to make completely clear as to what I’m most knowledgeable about and where my own notions of spirituality and religion derive.

That being said, a large portion of this series will be focused on the Christian religion, not just because that’s the religion I know the most about, but because it’s the religion that the large majority of Americans follow, so that is the one that shows up the most in pop-culture. However, special consideration is going to be taken to write about other religions as well. No fair leaving anyone out, is there?

So tune in next week and find some religion!