Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture IconsEveryday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons
David Dark
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The term apocalypse usually evokes images of mass destruction - burning buildings, nuclear fallout, the end of the world. Often our attempts to interpret the apocalyptic language and imagery of the Book of Revelation seem to carry us far away from our day-to-day, space-time existence. David Dark challenges this definition of apocalypse, calling us back to the root of the word, which is "revelation." Through sophisticated readings of Flannery O'Connor stories and savvy negotiations of The Matrix themes, Dark calls us to imagine the apocalypse as a more "watchful way of being" in the world. 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.

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In Everyday Apocalypse, author David Dark challenges the reader to redefine the term 'apocalypse,' calling his readers back to the root of the word, which is "revelation." In addition, 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.

David Dark currently serves as an English teacher in Nashville, Tennessee at Christ Presbyterian Academy. David has published articles and reviews in Prism magazine, Christianity Today and Books & Culture. He is married to singer-songwriter Sarah Masen and some of his articles are available on her website.

Christianbook.com: Our cultural understanding of the term ‘apocalypse,’ generally incites images of impending destruction, and war. You seek to clarify the meaning of ‘apocalypse’ by reinstating it as a revealing, or an epiphany of sorts. How is this definition crucial to our reading, of “Everyday Apocalypse?” How will this affect our understanding of the authors/artists discussed and their works?

David Dark: Well, it's crucial because it's what I take to be the genuinely biblical way of talking about apocalyptic, and anyone who tries to enjoy the book while simultaneously holding to the Left Behind/Rapture take on "apocalypse" (which I view as deeply unbiblical) is bound to be frustrated. When you begin to view all truthfulness as somehow bearing witness to God's coming kingdom, you're gradually able to view all kinds of art much more redemptively than a market-defined "Spirituality" or "Contemporary Christian Music" category can allow.

Christianbook.com: In the opening chapter you note that most Christians are unable to determine whether something is morally edifying unless the movie, album or book immediately defines itself as such. As a result, the Christian culture has allowed marketing teams to define that which is Christian and to distinguish those things which are not Christian or ‘secular.’ At what point in your faith did you recognize, that separating the Christian market from the so-called “secular” market is, in fact, a dangerous and unbiblical practice?

David Dark: Good question. I grew up in Nashville, and by the time "Christian" product came to my attention, it struck me as a strange trivializing of very serious matters already covered in Tolkien, Lewis, and U2. Unless the music or literature could come near to those standards, I didn't pay much attention to whether or not they advertised themselves as "Christian." When I ran into people who withheld their approval from U2 over the issue, I was in for some very interesting conversation that continues to this day. Incidentally, my favorite artists who nevertheless fell within the category (Steve Taylor, Charlie Peacock, Rich Mullins, Mark Heard) were especially outspoken concerning the madness behind the category and, for that reason, especially helpful in helping me think straight about the thing.

Christianbook.com: You also state, “I’m personally convinced that such market-driven theology will be viewed historically, with at least as much embarrassment as, say, the medieval sale of indulgences.” What might you say to those who would disagree with this conclusion? To those who have grown up in the context of “Christian Culture,” how can they develop a more discerning view of contemporary culture?

David Dark: I'd say that the Catholic Church eventually repented over the indulgences, but there's no sign of a similar moment of clarity in corporations who want their profits (at any cost) from their so-called "Christian" companies. The market will call "Christian" whatever sells as "Christian" and well-meaning church people inherit the heresy. The market we will always have with us (this side of the coming kingdom), but discerning the spirits and sorting out our allegiances from consumerism and America and whatever we've gotten fooled over is a fulltime, communal occupation. Studying history, praying, and talking these things through is really all we can do. But it's what the church has always had to do.

Christianbook.com: What inspired you to write, “Everyday Apocalypse”?

David Dark: I wanted to get down on paper a lot of what was occurring to me in my reading of New Testament scholarship and the connections I kept finding in the likes of Radiohead and Beck. I'd been raving about the Simpsons for many years, and I probably had more work done on that chapter, initially, than any other. I sent the proposal Brazos' way and was very pleased when they wrote back, in my editor's words, "Ready to rock."

Christianbook.com: Throughout your book, there are numerous references to popular artists and works of art that reflect the apocalyptic. Many of these artists have never made an outspoken statement of faith, though there are apparent spiritual allegories, symbols or allusions in their lyrics, images or writings. To some this might seem disconcerting. How would you respond to criticisms insisting that God does not use this type of people to accomplish His work?

David Dark: I would suggest that none of us are in a position to speak so definitively concerning God's purposes. It's a strange day when so many of us think we should.

Christianbook.com: Of the many pop culture icons featured, “Everyday Apocalypse,” focuses primarily upon, Flannery O’Connor, Radiohead, The Simpsons, Beck, film writers Joel and Ethan Coen, and the films ‘The Matrix’ and ‘The Truman Show.’ Of the many authors and artists active in our culture today, how did you narrow your discussion to include this aforementioned group?

David Dark: They were the ones I was especially eager to talk about at the time, and I didn't think I should try to make this particular work any longer.

Christianbook.com: I appreciated your demonstration of the apocalyptic through the treatment of the above-mentioned artists, especially in regards to, ‘The Matrix’ and the ‘Truman Show.’ Were there any other subjects or artists you might have included, if you had been able to discuss additional cultural icons in the book? Are there any artists or authors on the scene today, you find particularly noteworthy?

David Dark: Additional icons: P.J. Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Melville, Faulkner, Flaming Lips, Atom Egoyan, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Wilco, Ursula K. Leguin and all the people who receive brief mention in the first chapter of my book.

Christianbook.com: Are you working on any future books at the moment?

David Dark: Yes, currently I'm working on a book through Westminster/John Knox publishing due for spring 2005 entitled, The Gospel According to America: Meditating Upon a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea. Should be an interesting read.

Christianbook.com: As a side question, could you let us know your favorite book, film and music artist.

David Dark: Okay. But allow me list A favorite book, film and movie among my many favorites. J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, Woody Allen's Zelig, and Peter Gabriel.

Christianbook.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

David Dark: Sure. Read widely. Find everyone interesting. Know that there are more things in heaven and earth than are currently dreamt of in your own philosophy.

Christianbook.com: Thank you for joining us in this interview David. Thank you for offering a promising and hopeful perspective for Christians living in, but not of, our contemporary world. I look forward to the release of your next book.