The Springfield Reformation: "The Simpsons", Christianity, and American Culture (BOK)
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This book explores the theological voice of The Simpsons.Initially shunned by many in the Christian community when it made its television debut almost twenty years ago, after four hundred (and counting) episodes, and a feature-length film, few can deny that The Simpsons exhibits an astute understanding of Christianity in American culture. Its critiques of that culture are worth studying in detail. Jamey Heit's "The Springfield Reformation" investigates how The Simpsons blends important elements of contemporary American religious culture with a clear critique of the institutions and individuals that participate in and uphold that culture. Though The Simpsons is clearly a product of American popular culture, its writers offer up a well-planned, theologically informed 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," while at the same time exposing these very shortcomings.Heit focuses on distinct topics such as: god, the soul/the afterlife, prayer, the Christian ethic, evangelism, science versus religion, and faith (particularly in response to the question of why bad things happen to good people). He also explores the connections between various episodes, discussing how these connections, manifest an honest critique of Christianity in America. Engagingly written and guaranteed to appeal to smart, religiously curious fans of the show, Heit maintains that The Simpsons is not only a legitimate theological voice, but also that this voice offers a valuable addition to discussions about Christianity in America.