Everyday Apocalypse

The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons

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"Like Karl Barth's dictum that sermons should be written with Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other, Dark thrives in the theater seat of a Coen Brothers film with Bible scholar N. T. Wright on one side and rock star Bono on the other. Everyday Apocalypse calls us out of the classroom to a fresh way of seeing and hearing."--Greg Taylor, Christianity Today

The term apocalypse usually evokes images of mass destruction. Our attempts to interpret the apocalyptic language and imagery of the Book of Revelation often take us far afield from our day-to-day existence.

David Dark challenges this removed definition of apocalypse, calling his readers back to the root of the word, which is "revelation." Dark calls us to imagine apocalypse as a more "watchful way of being" in the world. Focusing on the epiphanic quality of apocalyptic insight, Dark draws on the wisdom of popular culture--including The Simpsons, Beck, and Coen brothers' films--to expose the "moral bankruptcy of our imaginations." Ultimately, Dark leads us toward the apocalypse as an affirming yet honest estimation of ourselves and a call to other-centeredness in the here and now.

This engaging book holds enormous appeal for readers interested in the pursuit of everyday spirituality and will delight literary and film critics, as well as anyone seriously interested in popular culture.


Endorsements

"David Dark's key insight in this book is that the apocalyptic vision doesn't heed our usual distinctions between "high" and "pop" culture; he therefore follows the trail of apocalypse wherever it leads--through movies, TV, music, and fiction--and he does so with flair, aplomb, and a determination to consider the whole of human culture in light of the enigmatic and overwhelming Jesus of John's own Apocalypse. Everyday Apocalypse is a fine ride."-Alan Jacobs, author of A Visit to Vanity Fair

"Apocalyptic is not religious fantasy about the future, but a window on the present, in the light of the future. David Dark has turned it into a powerful tool for cultural criticism. Literary history and contemporary media are used to throw light on one another. Not many authors can successfully put Beck and John Donne together in the same sentence. Above all, significant examples of contemporary literature, television, music, and film are reviewed, not to show how morally bad they are, but to allow them to show us our reality, if we are willing to be shown it. Highly recommended."-Rt. Reverend Graham Cray

"David Dark presents us with an alternative way of seeing--with apocalyptic expectations--that is fresh, inviting, and laced with biblical insight. Everyday Apocalypse charts a course through a range of popular artworks, revealing unexpected surprises along the way while opening new avenues for understanding film, fiction, television programs, and popular music."-William D. Romanowski, author of Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture

"God gave David Dark a gift--the ability to inhale copious amounts of movies, literature and articulate rock music, sieve it through the lungs of his spiritually discerning mind and soul and then exhale it full of the sweetest Biblical wisdom and understanding as to where faith and culture caress and collide. He has been doing this in my living room for years. And now another gift from God; David Dark's gift is available to everybody."-Steve Stockman, author of Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2


The Author

  1. David Dark

    David Dark

    David Dark has published articles and reviews in Prism magazine and Books & Culture. He teaches English at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville.

    Continue reading about David Dark

Reviews

"'Apocalypse'--as a genre and as a mind-set--is commonly misunderstood as something hidden in the back of the Bible and characterized by a gnostic or nihilistic disdain for anything earthly or human. So says Dark, a teacher of English at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn., arguing persuasively that genuine apocalypse, informed by Scripture and the rest of biblical tradition, isn't hidden. It can be seen in books and music, and on screens large and small. Dark is a close reader not only of pages (Shakespeare and Flannery O'Connor), but tunes (Radiohead and Beck) and film ('The Truman Show' and 'The Matrix') as well. He is a wide, wise, and good reader, and this book shows him also to be a fine writer--illuminating, engaging, often funny, sometimes disturbing."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Dark finds places where popular culture and a biblical theology of wonder intersect in Everyday Apocalypse essays. That he finds these intersections makes his work invigorating and, for some, controversial. . . . Everyday Apocalypse is a brave book for Brazos to take on, and it's a book of brave thought for culturally discerning believers."--Jamie Lee Rake, CBA Marketplace

"Dark sees God's doing where many Christians fail to look. While some Christians are busy taking offense, Dark tries to make room for what's coming, for what continues o come in apocalyptic endeavors of fiction, film, music, and television. Everyday Apocalypse reminds us to keep our lamps trimmed and burning, remaining vigilant watchers and listeners for God's kingdom that is coming here on earth. . . . We can surely take up such a task with confidence after seeing it performed so effectively here in this enormously important book."--Grant Elgersma, Culture Is Not Optional online review

"The real strength of Everyday Apocalypse is not Dark's media savvy, although he addresses literature, film, music, and television with wit and uncanny insight rarely seen in Christian cultural criticism. The book's potency lies in Dark's beautiful vision of the truly 'apocalyptic' life. What Dark means by this is a life lived with eyes wide open, willing to let a reality too large for comprehension unveil itself daily: in short, a life receptive to those things that aid in our redemption, wherever they may be found."--Moody Magazine

"Like Karl Barth's dictum that sermons should be written with Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other, Dark thrives in the theater seat of a Coen film with Bible scholar N. T. Wright on one side and rock star Bono on the other. Everyday Apocalypse calls us out of the classroom to a fresh way of seeing and hearing. Dark shows the ironic summons of apocalypse for us to be 'more awake and alive.'"--Greg Taylor, Christianity Today

"One of those meaty books that you have to chew through slowly, it's worth every bit of time and energy you invest in it. A must have! A must read! David Dark helps us understand our misunderstandings of what the word 'apocalypse' really means. The book does more than that. It gives us a new way of seeing ourselves and the world around us that shows us how messed up everything is and yet how full of hope everything is. Youth leaders, you won't want to miss this book!"--Youthworker

"Everyday Apocalypse is a very ambitious project--an attempt to show that nearly every element of pop culture media contains some glimmer of the divine and a message for informing the beholder's spirituality. Luckily for us, Dark is capable of facing this ambitious task and succeeding. . . . Dark's prose is clear and straightforward, and his examples are all well-chosen and to the point. While this book will definitely make readers think, it won't make them hurt. . . . This is one of the best ways for Christians and other spiritual people to start thinking about the products of popular culture in a new and more positive way. . . . This is also a good text for anyone interested in media and sociology, not to mention formalists who like the work to speak for itself, even in the midst of alternative interpretations. Besides, any book that references such disparate elements as C. S. Lewis and The Simpsons in one paragraph has to be good for your head."--Needcoffee.com

"Everyday Apocalypse forces us to reevaluate popular culture, to find value in what we may have dismissed. . . . The apocalyptic artists Dark discusses shock us awake to the truth around us--both the darkness and the light that lies beyond it."--Melissa Jenks, Christian Century

"A collection of tightly crafted but expansively imaginative essays on the intersection of grace and popular culture. . . . Along the way Dark peppers his observations with references to everything from Donne to Dostoyevsky to Dylan, Shakespeare to Scorsese, Blake to Bono, all rounded in a keenly sharp biblical framework. . . . It's a joyful read and inspiring, too."--Dwight Ozard, Prism

"This insightful book will fascinate those interested in the pursuit of everyday spirituality. It will delight lovers of literature, popular music, and movies, as well as anyone concerned with a Christian response to popular culture."--Christianbook.com

"[David Dark] helps us, chapter by chapter, to look with opened eyes at selected parts of popular culture. It is obvious he has his finger on the pulse of our postmodern world, because his selections reveal an ability to ignore the spin of the marketplace and get to things that matter. . . . Everyday Apocalypse is not always easy reading, but it is always worth reading. We recommend it to you, both for learning how to have eyes that see, and for the chance to listen in as David Dark looks at our world."--Denis Haack, Critique

"[Dark's] focus is the ground level, 'everyday' reminder that most of us generally prefer to live with a self-gratifying illusion of reality. . . . There are some mighty quotable quotes sprinkled throughout. . . . The value of books like this is to get us looking closer to ground level for signs and examples of the apocalyptic and the prophetic."--Richard C. Stern, Homiletic

"[Dark] provides an insightful survey and synopsis of numerous shows, songs and cinema works of The Simpsons, Radiohead, Beck, The Matrix, and the Coen brothers. . . . The author correctly raises a concern that too many Christians do not engage culture. They isolate themselves and lose opportunities for witness. We need to be able to knowledgeably witness to friends, neighbors, and coworkers immersed in pop culture. Dark's hours of research and his resultant synopsis give us new understanding."--Byron Snapp, Chalcedon Foundation

"The term [apocalypse] simply means 'revelation' or 'revealing.' Using this simple definition, Dark explores many contemporary works of art, including music, film and literature, which he considers apocalyptic insofar as they reveal God in unexpected ways. Dark notes that our ability to recognize expressions of the sacred in popular culture will help us to understand the un-churched community that surrounds us, and may, in fact, help us to communicate the gospel with more clarity."--Christianbook.com

"Dark successfully explores popular culture from an apocalyptic perspective, uncovering (revealing) insights of spiritual significance in sources of popular interest. . . . Dark takes his readers far beyond merely identifying biblical references or Christian imagery in popular culture to a place where they find abiding spiritual truths residing in such unlikely sources as the writing of Flannery O'Connor, The Simpsons, the music of Beck and Radiohead, The Truman Show, The Matrix, and the films of the Coen brothers. . . . Revolutionary. . . . The range of Dark's analysis is impressive. Not only does he explore a diverse set of texts, he also cites a wide, diverse set of scholars. . . . He approaches popular culture with the same academic seriousness and theological sensitivity as he approaches classical literature and sacred writings. This volume has value for those who teach literature, religion, or cultural studies, for those who love popular culture and want to learn more about theology, for those who love theology and want to learn more about popular culture; and for those who want to experience formal criticism expanded to accommodate cultural studies and religious studies. The book will be most appreciated, however, by those who are either already familiar with the works Dark discusses or are willing to become familiar with them. The scope of the book, combined with [its brevity], make familiarity with the pop-culture icons a great help in appreciating the apocalyptic glimpses each provides."--Andrew D. Kronenwetter, Stone-Campbell Journal