I’m David McConeghy. Welcome to my new homepage!
I will be posting here from now on, but my old blog, A Lively Experiment, is still accessible with over 100 posts on popular culture and American religious history. Highlights include my pieces about world religions in the video game Civilization 5 and the symbolic elements of Hellboy. Be sure to catch the site’s most popular post on occult television and anime.
My current research is on enchantment and sacrality. I am exploring how Americans make sacred space: Must religious folks seek new ways to approach space and place in our modern society?
On the blog other themes converge on a different question: How do religious perspectives emerge in material and popular cultures? This has led me to study the religious elements of video games, comic books, and television.
More than ever I think these two branches of research — call them sacred space and sacred culture — are intertwined. At least, I find myself saying again and again that religion in comics matters, religion in video games matters, the production of religious spaces outside churches and synagogues and mosques matters.
We should be paying attention not just because religious themes are common — they seem hard not to find — but because this abundance indicates that our modes and methods of interacting with religion have changed. Church attendance is down. Denominational affiliation is down. The discussion of religious themes, if we can measure such a thing, is up. The visibility of religion in the public sphere seems up, too.
So the new discourse on religion is taking place in more places and in more ways than it did previously. This is an age of production that exceeds our capacity for consumption. We are overwhelmed by noise drowning out the signal. Most frustratingly of all, many of us feel the signal is a lie or that competing signals mean we’ve lost something essential that binds humanity together. Time to get to work figuring out not just how things work today, but what we think we lost and whether we really want it back.
Welcome to the age of metasacralities.