Religious Avatars and Implicit Religion: Recycling Myths and Religious Patterns within Contemporary U. S. Popular Culture

Andrada Fatu-Tutoveanu, Corneliu Pintilescu


Contemporary cultural and media studies have been increasingly interested in redefining the relations between religion and culture (and particularly popular culture). The present study approaches a series of theories on the manner in which religious aspects emerge and are integrated in contemporary cultural manifestations, focusing on the persistence/resurrection of religious patterns into secularized cultural contents. Thus, the analysis departs from the concept of implicit religion, coined and developed by Bailey and the theories following it, as well as other associated concepts, influential for the evolution of debates in the recent period, such as invisible religion, as approached by Luckmann, civil religion, by Bellah, folk religion, residual religion, by Davies or wild religion, by Borg. In order to discuss the relations between religion and popular culture in contemporary U.S. and particularly the presence of certain religious patterns in popular culture messages, symbolism and rituals, the study uses an interdisciplinary approach, based on approaches currently used in media studies, film studies, cultural studies, visual culture perspectives, religious studies, and sociology. The article discusses, through different theories (and in its second part, a case study on James Cameron s clich masterpiece Avatar) the manner in which contemporary popular culture (and cinema in particular) recycles, integrates and reinterprets religious patterns, symbols and behaviours.


implicit religion, popular culture, mass culture, religious patterns, rituals, U.S. cinema, Avatar, James Cameron

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