PopGods: Thinking Theologically about Pop Culture

Interpret pop culture theologically to invite people into Jesus’ way of life and love.

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In a world where pop culture saturates our daily lives, Christians often find themselves at a crossroads. Do we retreat into our own subculture, or do we engage with the stories, images, and ideas shaping our neighbors' hearts and minds? PopGods challenges you to dive deep into the world of popular culture and discover the hidden longings, fears, and beliefs that lie beneath the surface.

By learning to analyze pop culture through a theological lens, you'll gain powerful insights into the questions, hopes, and anxieties that keep your neighbors up at night. You'll be equipped to communicate the hope of the gospel using stories and language they can understand.

But be warned: this journey isn't for the faint of heart. You'll be challenged to confront the darkness in our culture head-on, from the existential dread of zombie apocalypses to the seductive power of superhero mythologies. You'll grapple with tough questions about faith, meaning, and identity in a post-Christian world. Through it all, you'll emerge with a deeper understanding of God's truth and a greater capacity for empathy and connection.

If you're ready to take your faith beyond the church walls and into the heart of contemporary culture, PopGods is your gateway to a new kind of gospel witness.

What You'll Learn

  • How to unearth the unspoken spiritual and theological assumptions in your favorite movies, TV shows, and video games.
  • Why stories like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are so enduringly popular—and what they reveal about the human yearning for sacrifice, friendship, and identity.
  • The surprising parallels between superhero stories and biblical narratives of power and humility.
  • How zombie apocalypses and dystopian tales serve as windows into our culture's fears and longings.
  • The theological significance of "God-killer" stories like Thor and Star Wars.
  • Why you should pay attention to pop culture as a way to understand the questions that keep your neighbors up at night.
  • New ways of thinking about communicating Christian truths in a post-Christian world.
  • And much more!

About this Course

  • Modules

9

  • Learning Elements

65

  • Videos

16

  • Practices & Activities

17

  • Time

7 hours, 30 minutes

  • Price

$55

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Here's What's Inside...

Get oriented to the course, meet your instructor, download the interactive handbook, and more.

In this module you will:

  • Consider how cultural texts serve to tell big truths about who we are, much like the early cathedrals.
  • Rest in your identity as beloved of God.
  • Practice examining a cultural text for theological assumptions.

In this module you will:

  • Learn some theories on how horror films give us clues to how our culture deals with death.
  • Build gratitude that God has defeated death.
  • Consider how transcendent mysteries create a door to meaningful conversations.

In this module you will:

  • Explore the concept of sacrifice for others and its counter-cultural significance.
  • Consider how the Lord of the Rings trilogy speaks to a fragmented society.
  • Imagine ways to encourage connection in your own life and community.

In this module you will:

  • Consider both God's power and humility through a discussion of the Marvel Comic god Thor.
  • Appreciate that the all-powerful God of the universe seeks to connect with you as an individual human.
  • Explore how learning more about God's nature makes a difference in your service to God and the world.

In this module you will:

  • Consider how current culture seeks authenticity through the examples of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
  • Examine the disruptive force of sacrificial love.
  • Remember who you are in God's eyes.

In this module you will:

  • Consider what it means to be Christian in a pluralistic society.
  • Rest in the promise that love casts out fear.
  • Explore ways that you can inject love into fearful situations.

In this module you will:

  • Consider the longings and anxieties about the future that are present in zombie texts.
  • Practice identifying theological thinking in a pop culture text of your choice.
  • Appreciate the life-giving God's eternal glory.

Find out your next steps as you complete the course. You'll also be encouraged to submit feedback about your course.

You'll Learn How to Cultivate Community
View from the back of a movie theater, showing backlit, stadium-style seating and an animated movie on-screen.

Pop culture is more than just entertainment. It reflects—and shapes—our culture’s stories, values, and anxieties. In PopGods, you’ll learn how to interpret pop culture in ways that help you better understand the people you serve. More importantly, you’ll learn how to use pop culture as a bridge to have meaningful conversations with your neighbors.

What to Expect

  • Lifetime access to the course materials.
  • A comprehensive course handbook that features practices, reflection questions, and ways to deepen your engagement with the course material.
  • A FREE account inside the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, a private online learning community where you can connect with other learners and leaders who are walking through this course.

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Access to all workshops and their recordings

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Access to member-only live Q&A monthly interviews

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Access to monthly group coaching

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Looking for just in-time training resources?

Use this on-demand course as a complementary ready-made resource for small groups, Bible studies, discipleship growth, and equipping lay leaders in your specific ministry setting.

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Meet Your Instructors

  • Tripp Fuller

    Tripp recently moved back to North Carolina and started as Visiting Professor of Theology at Luther Theological Seminary after three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology & Science at the University of Edinburgh. He recently released Divine Self-Investment: a Constructive Open and Relational Christology, the first book in the Studies in Open and Relational Theology series. For over 15 years Tripp has been doing the Homebrewed Christianity podcast (think on-demand internet radio) where he interviews different scholars about their work so you can get nerdy in traffic, on the treadmill, or doing the dishes. Last year it had over 4 million downloads. It also inspired a book series with Fortress Press called the Homebrewed Christianity Guides to... topics like God, Jesus, Spirit, Church History, etc. Tripp is a very committed and (some of his friends think overly) engaged Lakers fan and takes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings very seriously.

  • Andrew Root, PhD

    After receiving his PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary, Andrew Root joined Luther Seminary in 2005. He is considered one of the leading scholars of youth ministry and practical theology in the world. Root has published 16 books, many of which have been found on lists for Book of the Year. His latest project is a six-volume series with Baker Academic. Root is known as a leading thinker on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, and churches. He has lectured and presented all over the world, including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

Connect as you learn

Connect inside the Faith+Lead Learning Lab

Learning happens best when you do it together with folks who are on the same journey as you are.

That's why our private social network, the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, hosts conversations about course content with other learners, instructors, TAs, and community leaders.

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Study together with a small group or congregation

Want to bring PopGods: Thinking Theologically about Pop Culture to your Bible study, small group, or even your entire congregation?

Choose "Enroll a Group" at checkout and select how many people you'd like to provide access to the course. You can go through the course together in-person, watch lessons together via Zoom, or even create a private group in the Learning Lab where participants can connect asynchronously.

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Address controversial topics from the pulpit with wisdom, humor, and grace.