We’ve got your special Sports EXTRA edition of #FaithGoesPop today, with unique faith and football sightings, plus Star Wars spirituality, Muslim comedy, and the Hip Hop Last Supper. Read on!
The goal of #FaithGoesPop is to pay attention to, sight, and comment on the many ways that religion and pop culture cross paths, intermesh, and come into conflict. The hope is that our exploration of “Faith Pop” would be broad enough to include the ways religion is re-appropriated in popular culture and how popular culture is re-allocated by religious actors and entities. To do this successfully I called on many of you to sight your “Faith Pop” and let me know when you saw #FaithGoesPop via Facebook, Twitter, & e-mail.
Now, in honor of NBA/NHL playoffs & the recent ‘May the 4th’ festivities, we’ve got sports faith & special Star Wars saints & gods sightings, plus more. Read on below #FaithGoesPopanistas
Star Wars Icons — May the force be with you
Dr. Annette Yoshiko Reed (@AnnetteYReed) shared a painting from her grad student that depicted Admiral Ackbar as St. Gail Ackbar, in Greek Orthodox icon form along with his distinctive salmon-colored skin, high-domed head and large fish-like eyes peering into the believers soul even as the believer peers into his Calamari presence.
A member of the amphibious Mon Calamari species, St. Ackbar was the foremost military commander of the Rebel Alliance and led major combat operations against the Galactic Empire. He is most famously known for recognizing it was a trap on the moon of Endor.
Now, if Ackbar is a saint, what does that make Yoda? A deity, apparently. The well-parodied ichthus bumper decals have another competitor out there beyond the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Darwin fish. Nowadays, thanks to spotter Christine Dietrich, we know there’s Yoda to spar with for space on people’s bumpers (read more about “bumper sticker religion“). If you think the Bible is hard to understand wait until you open up any number of Yoda’s quixotic parables. Indeed, instead of asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ we would instead be pondering the implications of ‘Do What Would Yoda?’ (DWWY)
Pastor Calls on God for Lightning to Strike
We’ve all done it. When it comes down to crunch time at the end of the season, we’ve snuck in a little prayer to the “big guy upstairs” and hoped that he too might be a fan of our favorite sports team. We’ve even often to make sacrifices if our team might win the championship.
“Please God, if – INSERT TEAM HERE – wins, I’ll start going to church again.”
Well, now Rev. Tyler Moore of Our Savior Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, FL took it to the next level and started posting encouraging, optimistic, signs in support of his NHL team — the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Moore, a fellow Concordia University Irvine alumni along with his wife Cassie, told Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy:
I’ve been at this church in St. Pete now, going on two years, and I really wanted to do it when the Lightning made the playoffs last year, but as you recall maybe, it was right before Easter, so I couldn’t get away with a sign right before Easter, so this year the timing worked out,” he said. “I’m having a blast with it. The congregation, they’re laughing a little bit because they love it. It’s their goofy pastor having a good time with it.
Devotional song to the Honey Badger
Of course, church signs are one thing. Devotional ballads are another. Nick “The Honey Badger” Cummins finally brought his weird, but wonderful, commentary to the U.S. with his latest post-game antics, which The Huffington Post called “The Most Confusing Interview Ever.” For us rugby fans, “the Badge” is already a “bloody legend” (even though he is an Aussie), but now his loyal fan base is worldwide as SB Nation translated lines like, “It was quite an emotional loss, but jeez there’s a bee’s wanger it in and we’re not far off” referring to the Western Force’s (his rugby team) many close calls this season as they are winners of the wooden spoon (lowest on the table) so far this Super Rugby season.
As Australian reporter James Dator wrote, “[t]here aren’t enough adjectives to accurate[ly] convey just how awesome Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins is. The Australian rugby star is known for his down-to-earth demeanor and post-game interviews that confuse anyone on the planet who isn’t Australian.”
But did you know that he also has his own devotees. Looking to the man known as “the Poet of Perth” and the “rugby sage with golden curls,” his interview tidbits are looked to here as parabolic pearls of wisdom come down from the footie gods. Need proof? Just watch this devotional song to “The Honey Badger.”
Lord, have mercy.
All Hail JJ Watt, Savior of the Texans
Rugby not your thing? More into American Gridiron — the NFL? Then JJ Watt may be your man. Not only is JJ Watt a defensive giant for the Houston Texans, he’s the best son in the world and a guy who makes kid’s wildest dreams come true (and many of their mother’s dreams as well). Simply put, JJ Watt is awesome.
But is he divine?
Last year, an anonymous JJ Watt disciple sent me this pic of a homemade JJ Watt altar. Wow.
Why not have him enshrined? He almost single handedly won every game for the Texans last year. Of course, Texans fans will be praying to Watt, Wotan, or Woto next year to redeem their team after a dismal 2014 season.
Muslim comedy to fight ISIS
To switch gears, and get more serious, Bhakti M. shared the story of Humza Arshad. The London-based comedian and creator/star of “The Diary of a Badman,” is household name among Muslims in the UK. Now, he has teamed up with London’s Metropolitan Police “to steer vulnerable young Muslims away from extremism.”
While the BuzzFeed article makes it seem as if every kid Arshad performs to is on the verge of violent acts of terror, the comedian is part of a wider effort among Muslims worldwide to combat ISIS, and other terror groups, with comedy.
Laughs, not bombs.
Comedy, not tragedy.
ISIS is renowned for its all too clever use of online videos, social media, and technology to advance its cause. It’s only fair if those who vehemently disagree with al-Dawla al-Islamiyya’s interpretation of Islam should fight back with the same means. It all goes to show that despite the claims of some anti-Muslim pundits, Islam is not only conducive to modernity, but its adherents are positively masterful at utilizing its tools.
Hip Hop Last Supper
While in Austin, TX at Hops & Grain Brewery I was having a conversation with the tap-man about religion, beer, and spirituality. Both the IBUs and the conversation were getting heavy, so I took a break to walk around the brewery and came across this painting.
The Hip Hop Last Supper, featuring Snoop Lion in the center flanked by artists such as Tupac Shakur, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard at a table set with 40s, fried chicken, and Mary Jane buds. It makes a statement, to say the least.
This Spring, I’ve been taking an EdX course via Rice University X taught by Dr. Anthony Pinn and Professor Bun B called “Religion and Hip Hop Culture.” As part of the course, we’ve discussed how religion can be framed as “the quest for complex subjectivity” and defined that way hip hop can not only contest, and augment, religion, but also serve as a replacement for it.
If we were ever in need of evidence for it, this painting might be proof.
How Jesus is Saving Primetime
After my post talking about biblical movies and TV being “the new digital cathedrals” Sandy B sent me this photo of the show A.D. gracing the cover of T.V. Guide with the lede, “How Jesus is saving primetime.” Nice sighting Sandy!