Oh, My Pop Culture Gnosticism: What if God Isn’t God?

Nothing says pop culture like 2000-year-old theological debates, right? You’d be surprisedand we’ve discussed it before.

Gnosticism—a heretical branch of early Christianity—faded almost entirely from view after its founders were edged out of the Church by what would become orthodoxy. With most of their works lost or destroyed, their ideas survived only in the denunciations from the likes of Tertullian and Irenaeus. The Gnostic focus on secrecy didn’t ensure a broad legacy, either—early leaders such as Valentinius and Marcion privileged access to the deeper nature of the universe for initiates and other worthies. Modern Gnostics avoid the secrecy, and as with many aspects of Gnosticism which may seem troubling, the marginalization of Gnosticism limited our understanding to unfriendly characterizations by their orthodox contemporaries.

But in the 20th century, a treasure trove of Gnostic texts was discovered by a couple of Egyptian farmers at Nag Hammadi in a sealed jar. Ever since, their ideas—which seem stunningly modern in some ways—have started to permeate back into the world, gaining influence well beyond what would be expected from their obscurity, particularly since the texts themselves are rarely read by anyone besides scholars.

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Still, the ideas in these texts are starting to make their way into pop culture, directly or indirectly, and Gnostic ideas are fascinating enough to be talked about far away from their original sources. They feature prominently in the His Dark Materials series, and some concepts pop up in such unexpected places as Young Avengers, Final Fantasy, and even Futurama.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Hell: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

Two weeks ago, Saika wrote a post about pop cultural interpretations of Paradise. This week, I want to explore our ideas of Hell. What I think is most interesting about Hell is not how many different interpretations of it exist, but the fact that most people don’t actually believe Hell exists. While some have good reason—the concept of universal reconciliation is a theologically nuanced doctrine that states that all are eventually reconciled with God in the end—many just plain don’t like the idea of Hell. Even if Christians today are more than happy to imagine an other-worldly life of eternal happiness, many don’t actually believe a place of eternal suffering and punishment is real. Why is this the case? Pop culture might have something to do with it. 

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What the Puff: Pipes in Pop Culture

I smoke tobacco pipes. I’ve enjoyed them since I turned 18 and even make them. So, I am pleased when I see television or movies including characters smoking their pipes. You’ll never know where pipe smokers are going to turn up in these things, from Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds to Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. Even the First and Fourth Doctors in Doctor Who were seen smoking pipes. However, I’m almost always infuriated when I see how they smoke them. This is because many times the characters smoke their pipes wrong. Typically, these characters seem to be most interested in making as much smoke as possible. This isn’t wrong because of arbitrary etiquette, but rather is wrong because it ruins the taste of the tobacco, burns the mouth, and can ruin a pipe over time.

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Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2013 Edition

Those of us here at LGG&F are back again and working tirelessly to compile and vote on this years top 10 canon and top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. Last year’s list can be found here.

tumblr_lzd06rEF5Y1qjk5mxo1_400Now onward to see who made to this year’s list!!

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Pepperpots and Trouser Shocks: Cross-Dressing in Geek Culture

Cross-dressing is wrong? Riddikulus!

You’ve seen the movies, you’ve read the books; cross-dressing is a common theme in fiction. It’s in mythology, history, folklore, literature, operas, plays, movies, television, and even music. Most importantly though, it has caught the attention of the alternative and dare I say? nerdy aspects in the pop-culture experience that we call life.

There are a few different kinds of plot points based on cross dressing. A very popular one, especially by those such as Shakespeare is one I like to call: Girls in Caps and Trousers. Women dressing as men have been both a cultural and historical phenomena. Some are trying to find their lost loves, some to fight in a war, and some just want the same privileges and opportunities their brothers get. Since there are many of examples of this particular trope (Japanese anime has hundreds of them) I will stick to only a couple.

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Futurama: They’re Back, Baby!

Futurama is back with a new season! Woooo! Hoooo! This one hour episode “The Bots and the Bees” and “A Farewell to Arms” was pretty awesome for a Futurama season opener. The first part was mainly about everyone’s favorite thieving robot Bender. After the purchase of a sassy beverage dispenser named Bev, things start to get interesting. What started off as a fight for the honor of two bimbo bots, Bender and Bev soon start banging, literally. Soon Bev dispenses a cute little miniature Bender. After little Ben is abandoned by his metal mama, Bender becomes a fantastic father. After a montage of father and son stealing and property-damage-based bonding Ben grows into the awkward adolescent stage of a growing robot. Little Ben’s dream is to be a bender like his dad, but he didn’t inherited it from Bender. To install it would mean to lose his memories, including those of Bender. Eventually Bender selflessly installs the bending program so that his son can follow his dream.

This was a really interesting episode; here we learn how robots reproduce (I always wondered) and that Bender, for all his evil and selfishness is capable of caring for something other than himself. Who would of thought Bender would make such an excellent dad? Though it isn’t too much of a surprise do to his occasional emotional attachment to his best friend Fry and he has often displayed emotions over such things as broken robots and helpless turtles. Even though his son eventually didn’t remember him, Bender still loves him.

The second part was about the Martian calendar and its prediction for the end of the world in 3012. Amidst the chaos is the chivalrous Fry and the lovely Leela. In classic Fry fashion Fry is constantly trying to do nice things for Leela, which always seems to backfire. While trying to join the balcony club, the two one-sided love birds are alerted to the end of the world translation. Panic soon engulfs the world. Luckily they find an ancient Martian space ship in an underground pyramid. Since the ship can only hold 30,000, the president sets up a machine that chooses each person based on merit. Due partly to his lucky pants Fry has a ticket, due to Leela’s unfortunate choice of career, she is not. Fry does the noble thing and manages to trick Leela to go on the ship to Mars without him. Unfortunately it turned out that the translation was wong, dead Wong (due to Amy.) It turned out that the prophecy was meant for Mars, not Earth. Once again Fry messed up. Mars soon starts to skim the Earth, Fry tries to save Leela, but manages to tear her arm off instead. She is saved by Scruffy and his trusty ladder.

This episode was a typical “Oh are they in love now?” episode or an “is Leela still not over Lars’s death who was actually alternate-timeline Fry and so should just be with him, damn it?” episode. Although I love Fry and Leela relationship, they have begun to wear on my rooting arm. Their ambiguous affiliation is frustrating to fans (or at least to me) and I was hoping for a little more depth, or at least some progress from these two. Fry is constantly proving his love to Leela and she for some reason does and also does not return it. Although this particular episode had a happy ending, I still was a little pissed at Leela’s attitude. If you don’t like him, reject him! If you do, accept him! Zoidberg Jesus people!

Anyhoo, overall it was an excellent start to what is sure to be an excellent season! If you have never seen Futurama, it is available on Netflix, and they often have reruns on Comedy Central. Futurama is on Wednesday’s at 10:00PM on Comedy Central.