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Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television Paperback – July 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Highly recommended. Here we learn that science fiction is more than bug-eyed aliens and saucers and that it often reveals our quest for the sacred.
--John W. Morehead, editor, theofantastique.com

From the "millennial dreams" and "apocalyptic nightmares" of alien contact to the Buddhist visions of Neo s matrix, Doug Cowan weaves a grand adventure for fans and students of religion and science fiction. If the hope for transcendence is the universal human religious question, as Cowan ably presents, then science fiction film and television are the blank screens most qualified in our media-rich culture to propel us on that journey.
--Conrad Ostwalt, Professor of Religious Studies, Appalachian State University

Cowan convincingly demonstrates that modern science-fiction films and television shows have made religious questions and answers central to the issues they raise about human identity, values, and purpose. By emphasizing the diversity of religious ideas present in these media, Cowan shows how they are as multivariant as the nature of religion itself. In so doing, he sheds light not only on what religion is, but also on what it might be. --John Lyden, Professor and Chair of Religion, Dana College, and author of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals

About the Author

Douglas E. Cowan is Professor of Religious Studies at Renison University College, University of Waterloo. His most recent publications include Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen; Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet; and Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (July 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602582386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602582385
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Science fiction has long been a useful vehicle for debating core issues in society. And it has also long been a place for the discussion of faith, spirituality, divinity, and yes, even transcendence. Transcendence, as used by Douglas E. Cowan, professor of religious studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, emphasizes God's relation to the world. Taking an Aristotelian view of God as the prime mover--a non-material self-consciousness that is outside of the world--Cowan suggests that humanity seeks to understand and to pursue a transcendent quality and that this pursuit is often displayed in science fiction.

Although there are introductory and concluding chapters, extended discussions of War of the Worlds, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica make up the bulk of the analysis contained in Cowan's Sacred Space. Essentially he seeks to explore some of the most germane themes in human philosophy about life, the universe, deity, creation, and meaning. Each of these science fiction dramas explore these questions through their characters and circumstances. Most of these fictional works reaffirm dominant paradigms about humanity and deity, but some question in deep and moving ways those dominant beliefs. Few add seriously to the exploration of great thinkers in human history even as they broaden public consideration of key components of the debate.

That's good as far as it goes. But there is quite a lot more in this intriguing book. Perhaps the most interesting chapter deals with the various reimaginings of the relationship between God and humanity as expressed in War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells was an avowed atheist who promulgated his beliefs in his novels.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Science Fiction has always been looking into the future for a better time. "Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television" is an analysis of modern science fiction on television and what it means to modern culture and philosophy, the hope that technology will help readers win the day in the many problems humanity faces, and the reality that some of these problems will never be done with. "Sacred Space" is a fascinating read on the ideas that go behind today's science fiction television.
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