“Mythic Re-Enchantment, Hyper-Real Religions, and Matrixism” John Morehead April 1


at 6pm WPC 140

We should no longer see popular culture as simply a source of escapism. It can amuse, entertain, instruct, and relax people, but it also provides inspiration for religion. The incorporation of various forms of fantastic narratives from science fiction, fantasy, and even horror, have resulted in the creation of new sacred mythologies, around which new forms of sacred community have developed. The Church of All Worlds, the Church of Satan, Jediism from the Star Wars franchise, and Matrixism from The Matrix trilogy of films are examples of new religious groups that have been   inspired by popular culture to (re)create a religious message. These are hyper-real or fiction-based religions, that is, a simulacrum of a religion partly created out of popular culture that provides inspiration for believers/consumers. John Morehead, a researcher and scholar of new religions and popular culture, will discuss the shifting cultural context of the re-enchantment of the West and how this has led to the rise of the hyper-real religions. He will then discuss Matrixism as a specific example and explore ways in which new myths have arisen from science fiction as a compliment from the sacred narratives of more traditional religions.
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John W. Morehead is a scholar of religion and popular culture, who has written on a number of subjects including Burning Man, video games, zombies, and hyper-real religions in various books and articles. He contributes commentary and reviews to Cultural Encounters, Extrapolation, International Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts, and Diabolique magazine. He is a contributor to Cinefantastique Online and writes for the blog TheoFantastique.com, which centers on the themes of horror, science fiction, and fantasy as they relate to modern mythologies and spiritualities.

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