Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination

Hardcover | December 1, 2014

byGreg Garrett

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Nowadays references to the afterlife - angels strumming harps, demons brandishing pitchforks, God enthroned on heavenly clouds - are more often encountered in New Yorker cartoons than in serious Christian theological reflection. Speculation about death and its sequel seems to embarrass manytheologians; however, as Greg Garrett shows in Entertaining Judgment, popular culture in the U.S. has found rich ground for creative expression in the search for answers to the question: What lies in store for us after we die?The lyrics of Madonna, Los Lonely Boys, and Sean Combs; the plotlines of TV's Lost, South Park, and The Walking Dead; the implied theology in films such as The Dark Knight, Ghost, and Field of Dreams; the heavenly half-light of Thomas Kinkade's popular paintings; the ghosts, shades, and after-lifeway-stations in Harry Potter; and the characters, situations, and locations in the Hunger Games saga all speak to our hopes and fears about what comes next. In a rich survey of literature and popular media, Garrett compares cultural accounts of death and the afterlife with those found in scripture.Denizens of the imagined afterlife, whether in heaven, hell, on earth, or in purgatory, speak to what awaits us, at once shaping and reflecting our deeply held - if often somewhat nebulous - beliefs. They show us what rewards and punishments we might expect, offer us divine assistance, and evendiabolically attack us. Ultimately, we are drawn to these stories of heaven, hell, and purgatory - and to stories about death and the undead - not only because they entertain us, but because they help us to create meaning and to learn about ourselves, our world, and, perhaps, the next world. Garrett's deft analysis shedsnew light on what popular culture can tell us about the startlingly sharp divide between what modern people profess to believe and what they truly hope and expect to find after death - and how they use those stories to help them understand this life.

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Nowadays references to the afterlife - angels strumming harps, demons brandishing pitchforks, God enthroned on heavenly clouds - are more often encountered in New Yorker cartoons than in serious Christian theological reflection. Speculation about death and its sequel seems to embarrass manytheologians; however, as Greg Garrett shows in...

Greg Garrett is 2013 Centennial Professor at Baylor University, where he teaches classes in fiction and screenwriting, literature, film and popular culture, and theology. The author or co-author of three dozen short stories, a dozen scholarly articles, and twenty books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, Dr. Garrett is also Residentia...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:December 1, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199335907

ISBN - 13:9780199335909

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Entertaining Judgment1. Citizens of the Afterlife: Angels, Demons, and Ghosts2. Heaven: The Pearly Gates3. Hell: The Fiery Inferno4. Purgatory: The Gray ForeverNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In Entertaining Judgment Greg Garrett skillfully leads his readers through a wide range of portrayals of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, showing how they continue to populate contemporary imaginings. Going beyond well-known routes, this voyage of discovery includes popular films and televisionseries, novels and comics, pop music and biblical stories. Fresh perspectives are brought to light on the journey, through discussions of various imaginative landscapes related to the afterlife. Garrett offers attentive descriptions, thoughtful interpretations and nuanced insights. The result is anengaging expedition that will enrich debates about understandings of life and what may or may not lie beyond." --Jolyon Mitchell, Director, Center for Theological and Public Issues, and Academic Director, The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at The University of Edinburgh