God in the Details examines how religion is communicated in pop culture. The editors write “the challenge, then, lies not in overcoming the “otherness” of our subjects of study, but in choreographing the dance that allows us to come into intimate closeness with these subjects and then step back to do critical analysis” (2011, p. 7). This seems to be a “big idea” this week. Where do we, as individuals find the dance lines?

In The Simpsons, religion is used satirically. Many people are offended by the way the show handles religion. They ask if the media is changing us or reflecting our changes.

Clifford Geertz calls this the “‘intrinsic double aspect’ of cultural products that are both models of and models for reality” (as cited in Dalton, Mazur, & Siems, 2011, p. 240). Geertz argues that this is important to a culture because these patterns “give meaning … to social and psychological reality both by shaping themselves to it and by shaping it to themselves’ (Geertz 1973, 93)” (as cited by Dalton, Mazur, & Siems, 2011, p. 241).

The opinion I seem to be forming is that culture’s influence is inescapable and our best plan is to try to influence it for the better. Influencing it for the better may just involve using technology and media as Schultze suggests. “We will have to invest as much time and energy in the habits of our hearts as we do in our high-tech practices” (2002, p.209).

Dalton, L., Mazur, E. M. & Siems, M. (2011). Homer the Heretic and Charlie Church: Parody, piety, and pluralism in The Simpsons.

In Mazur, E. M. & McCarthy, K. (Eds.) (2011). God in the details: American religion in popular culture (2nd ed.) (pp. 237-254).
New York, NY: Routledge.

Mazur, E. M. & McCarthy, K. (Eds.) (2011). God in the details: American religion in popular culture (2nd ed.) (pp. 237-254). New York, NY: Routledge.

Schultze, Q. J. (2002). Habits of the high-tech heart: Living virtuously in the Information Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Spicer, T. (2011, April 11). Christian Media [Msg. 1]. Retrieved from

Woods, R. (2011, April 11). The Matrix, L.O.S.T., Seinfeld, and, yes, Rocky! Some “big ideas” for everyone [Msg. 1]. Retrieved from

Weisel & King’s study found that participants (who were strangers) in conversations with moderate and severe self-disclosure were far more forgiving than observers of the same conversations. The study challenges prior research findings which use surveys rather than face-to-face conversations to study effects of self-disclosure. (more…)

Below are five characteristics that I believe define an intimate relationship.

1. Presence – (preferably face-to-face, this could also include online interactions) Just as we talked about presence (immediacy) being an important factor in classmate relations, this is necessary in intimate relationships.

2. Growth over time – Realizing that relationships are an ongoing process and continuing to learn about and grow closer to each other as time passes.

Just as we are always evolving, growing and learning as we continue through life, I think that our friendships grow. Even if we were able to say that we knew everything there was to know about a person (which I doubt is possible, even with a spouse), the next day there is more about that person to learn. (more…)

I believe that I could work on speaking culturally. People in my area say things like “you’s” for “you all” and add “s” to the end of many store names, like “Wal-Mart’s”. Recently, my family received a card at church and it had been changed to say something like “you’s” and before I realized what I was doing, I laughed out loud at it. The person who wrote it genuinely thought that it should be “fixed”, as did most everyone in the congregation.

It is hard for me to knowingly use language wrongly, but when speaking to people in my area, I could improve by not just understanding their quirks, but joining in to foster identification. I don’t feel that I fit in with my community very well because I am educated, professional and white-collar while they are blue-collar working poor. Is there a way to find a happy medium between speaking correctly and culturally in this situation?

“Covergence is a strategy of communication (more…)

While I was at a restaurant I stared. There was one group in particular that noticed me. There were two young children and two young women. I was staring at the little girl. I felt creepy and nervous that someone would get angry. The mother of the two children kept looking back at me and I could tell that I was making her nervous as well. It didn’t last long because I felt creepy. Then I just casually said that I liked how she dressed her children and that I especially liked her daughter’s dress. Then we had a really nice conversation, actually. I didn’t even have to tell her that I was doing an experiment. (more…)

This week’s readings were very interesting to me. I have been trying to grasp the differences in research methods throughout this semester. It is taking me some time to learn the differences between the many technical terms. Strom, in chapter 13, outlines these techniques while writing about the social sciences. However, I mostly appreciated the way Strom has discussed the three views of truth.

The objectivist believes “one can study human behavior free from personal bias through experimentation and surveys” (2009, p. 316). They believe that they can objectively find truth through human research means.

Subjectivists seem to be more realistic in that they know that they are flawed as humans and therefore what they find to be truth is flawed in some ways. Strom writes that the subjectivist’s reality is “influenced by sensory limitations, brainpower glitches, and sin” (2009, p.316).

Constructivists believe that people have the power to construct reality. This makes them relativists.

I have to say that I am a subjectivist. Strom’s explanation of subjectivist Christians fits me very well. I believe that there is one truth, that we cannot fully know it, and that we need the Holy Spirit to guide us.

However, I do see the benefit of scientific inquiry and research. God made us as inquisitive, creative images of himself. I believe that God expects us to not only navigate our world, but to learn about it extensively. I don’t believe that God would have created in such detail or put us over the Earth and all that is in it, if God did not want us to enjoy and learn from it. “Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26, NIV).

Strom, B. (2009). More than talk: Communication studies and the Christian faith (3rd ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

The NCA defines communication thoroughly.

Communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meaning within and across all kinds of contexts, cultures, channels and media (Association for Communication Administration, 1995).

Communication is learned. Most people are born with the physical ability to talk, but we must learn to speak well and communicate effectively. Speaking, listening, and our ability to understand verbal and nonverbal meanings are skills we develop in various ways.

Communication relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of knowledge. Communication includes both verbal and nonverbal messages as well as messages that are sent through electronic means like the phone, computer, radio and television.

Communication is a large and diverse field that includes inquiry by humanists, social scientists and critical and cultural studies scholars. A body of scholarship and theory, about all forms of human communication, is presented and explained in textbooks, electronic publications, and academic journals. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an ever-expanding understanding of how we all communicate.

This definition is inclusive as it speaks broadly of how messages are sent verbally, nonverbally and using various means of communicating. The definition includes judgment in how it states we must learn to communicate. This definition does not include intentionality.

I do believe that communication requires intentionality. I believe that whether we realize it or not, everything that we communicate has an intention. It is like Postman’s belief that “embedded in every tool is an ideological bias, a predisposition to construct the world as one thing rather than another, to value one thing over another, to amplify one sense or skill or attitude more loudly than another” (Postman, 1992, p. 13).

The message needs to be received in order for communication to occur. I don’t believe that everyone a message is intended for needs to receive it, but at least one must in order for it to be communication.

Christian communication should be different in that it should always be spoken in love. 1 Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (NIV)

National Communication Association. (n.d.) Communication defined. Retrieved from

Postman, Neil. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York, NY: Vintage.

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