D’oh! I mean, only four more days until The Simpsons Movie opens. PopTheology is dedicating every post this week to all things Simpsons. First, we will focus on several books based on pop-culture’s first family and, as the movie approaches, Daniel Skidmore and I will offer up our top five “spiritual Simpsons” episodes and hope that they will generate some discussion about your favorite “spiritual Simpsons” episode or your favorite episode in general. I’ll be making my way to the nearest Kwik-E-Mart tonight down in Mountain View to load up on Squishies, Buzz Cola, and, Mmmmmm, donuts. For now, check out perhaps two of the best books inspired by The Simpsons.
The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer edited by William Irwin, Mark T. Conard, and Aeon J. Skoble.
This is just a really solid book that serves as not only a wonderful introduction to a variety of philosophical concepts but also a perfect example of what can happen when viewers take pop culture seriously. The book contains essays by professors from the University of Wisconsin to the University of Virginia. The book is divided into four parts that analyze the characters, consistent themes, ethics, and specific philosophers. Essays include “Homer and Aristotle,” “Lisa and American Anti-Intellectualism,” “The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life,” “Springfield Hypocrisy,” and “A (Karl, not Groucho) Marxist in Sprinfield.”
Of all the “scholarly” books on The Simpsons, this one might be my favorite. Beyond taking popular culture seriously, I am especially appreciative of Pinsky’s concluding discussion of “cloaking the sacred in the profane.” I am reminded of how Scripture depicts Divine revelation through such profane instruments as a burning bush, a donkey, or a carpenter. Could an animated television series really be so far off the mark? Pinsky mines episodes for their contributions to his discussions of evangelicalism, heaven and hell, divine imagery, and personal prayer, among many other topics.