Education: Pop Culture Is New Religion

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

Education: Pop Culture Is New Religion


Byline: JENNY REES

WHO needs religion when you've got rugby, Elvis and Robert de Niro?

In our quest to find a modern day spiritualism we are leaving behind the chapels and pews in favour of two tickets to the match, concert or latest Hollywood blockbuster.

We put our faith and belief in the striker who will take our side to the finals, or to the hero who will get the girl and save the world.

We listen to the preachings of singers and soap stars for guidance and morality.

So it's no wonder that the likes of Robbie Williams, Madonna and Kevin Spacey are being studied alongside Jesus Christ in the school of theology and religious studies at Trinity College, Carmarthen.

Rock of Ages and Holy Hollywood are two of the courses available to students, and each shows them how popular culture has been influenced by religion. Guest lecturers do not include the likes of de Nero or Madonna, and getting Elvis along really would be a miracle, but their work is analysed, including Madonna's Like a Prayer, de Nero in Raging Bull, and the hit film American Beauty. Students listen to the music and watch the films, but this is more than just a gimmick to fill a lecture hall.

Dr Trystan Hughes, head of the department, explained that students in their second and third years are offered the modules, but only after they have first been given a good grounding in theol ogy.

It is then they can recognise the religious motifs and themes - but yes, the attractive modules have done wonders for the department.

``When I started here the course was very traditional and I wanted to change that because it wasn't attracting students,'' said Dr Hughes.

``There were a lot of courses on subjects like theology in the 16th century and I changed that quite a bit. …

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