In this wise and engaging book, Jamey Heit offers us a profound and perceptive new view of the ways Christianity is presented, criticized and gently reaffirmed in television's now-classic comic series, The Simpsons. By continually comparing the series' portrayal of contemporary American religion to Reformation critiques of the religious practice of its day, Heit gives us a brilliantly illuminating context for interpreting the show as constructive satire, and for hearing between its lines a call to reform some of our own religious and social assumptions. Brian E. Daley, SJ; Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
"The Springfield Reformation" is as smart, searing and timely as "The Simpsons"! Jamey Heit demonstrates how "The Simpsons" holds up a cracked and crucial mirror to American civil religion and particularly Protestant Christianity. He highlights Homer's comedic misunderstandings of God and Lisa's sharp, spiritual insights. "The Springfield Reformation" points out the gap between Americans' beliefs and practices (just like the show). Heit's masterful survey of 400 episodes (and the movie!) make it an essential addition to the growing field of theology and pop culture.
Craig Detweiler, Ph.D., director of Reel Spirituality, Fuller Theological Seminary and author of "Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century Cinema".
""The Simpsons" holds up a funhouse mirror to American Society, presenting a distorted image in which we nonetheless very clearly recognize our own reflection. In "The Springfield Reformation" Heit provides a humorous and thoroughgoing analysis of Christianity on "The Simpsons" and along the way sheds light on much of what is right and wrong about contemporary American Christianity. Evolution, economics, and evangelicals all get due attention. Any fan of the show will find this book rewarding reading." William Irwin, co-editor of "The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer"
"Heit has done his homework, watching hundreds of episodes and surveying a mountain of scholarly research. The result is an insightful...study that shows religion to be much more than a convenient punch line for the show's creators, who see some of the same problems in the church of their day that Luther saw in his own time."The Youth Worker Journal--Sanford Lakoff
This book explores the theological voice of The Simpsons.Initially shunned by many in the Christian community when it made its television debut almost twenty years ago, after four hundred (and counting) episodes, and a feature-length film, few can deny that The Simpsons exhibits an astute understanding of Christianity in American culture. Its critiques of that culture are worth studying in detail. Jamey Heit's "The Springfield Reformation" investigates how The Simpsons blends important elements of contemporary American religious culture with a clear critique of the institutions and individuals that participate in and uphold that culture. Though The Simpsons is clearly a product of American popular culture, its writers offer up a well-planned, theologically informed religious climate in the cartoon world of Springfield. This world mirrors America in a way that allows the show's viewers to recognize that Christianity can hold together a family and a town that is rife with "sin," while at the same time exposing these very shortcomings.Heit focuses on distinct topics such as: god, the soul/the afterlife, prayer, the Christian ethic, evangelism, science versus religion, and faith (particularly in response to the question of why bad things happen to good people).
He also explores the connections between various episodes, discussing how these connections, manifest an honest critique of Christianity in America. Engagingly written and guaranteed to appeal to smart, religiously curious fans of the show, Heit maintains that The Simpsons is not only a legitimate theological voice, but also that this voice offers a valuable addition to discussions about Christianity in America.