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Evangelicalism's Dark Side and Popular Culture

"Evangelicals may feel that stories of supernatural battles between good and evil belong to them, but they cannot control how these stories will be reconfigured once they enter the realm of entertainment media"

Evangelicalism's emergence as a cultural force has, to an unprecedented degree, placed the concept of the battle between good and evil on the public agenda. Once concerns with evil entered the public imagination, evangelicals could no longer control how people chose to respond to the evil that many agreed existed. It was not only the responses that could not be controlled, however.

While evangelicals have long recognized the potential for evangelism in film, filmmakers have similarly seen the entertainment possibilities in the stories ofevangelicalism's dark side. Thus, while evangelicals and other conservative Christians may feel that stories and images of supernatural battles between good and evil in some sense belong to them, they cannot control how these stories will be used, and reconfigured, once they enter the realm of the media and particularly the entertainment media.

Stories of the end times may have been popularized recently with the rise of evangelicalism, but the ideas go back to the roots of Christianity. While conservative religion has employed the narratives of the end times in the context of updated images and story lines, the images most often used in popular cultural representations of the end times—notably, those of demons, hell, and the afterlife—date to medieval depictions such as that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting, The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562).

At that point in history, religious scholars were devoted to explanations of the supernatural realm that they believed was very much a reality. As scientific knowledge increased in the age of the Enlightenment, however, cosmological definitions fell out of favor in both formal theology and in religious artwork. The fictional depictions of demons ...

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Posted:
September
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