About Theodore Trost

Theodore Louis Trost is Professor in the Religious Studies Department and the New College at the University of Alabama.

January 6, 2021:  Call it Epiphany

picture of crowd gatheredWhat one calls the events that took place in the capital of the nation on January 6, 2021, is a matter of perspective—a viewpoint acquired primarily, I suspect, through the political persuasion of the one giving name to the phenomenon. Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 4)

4a americans

The theme of children discovering religion apart from their non-religious parents is also developed on another popular show. Set in the 1980s during the Reagan Administration, The Americans is the story of two Russian spies who have set up a home and a family in the vicinity of Washington, DC. Philip (Noah Emmerich) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) execute frequent missions on behalf of the KGB under their cover as owners of a travel agency. Their children know nothing of their parent’s “true” identities, although the teenage daughter, Paige (Holly Jennings), is beginning to suspect that things are not quite what they seem. Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 3)

3 grace florrick

Kate Burton also plays attorney Victoria Adler on the series The Good Wife, and to that show I would now like to turn. The Good Wife‘s central character is Alicia Florrirck (Julianna Margulies), a woman estranged from her politician husband, Peter Florrick (Chris North), whose misdeeds force him to be removed from public office as Cook County state’s attorney. A recording of Peter’s adulterous affairs is aired endlessly on all forms of media; on account of his political crimes, he is incarcerated in the Cook County Jail for a time during which Alicia, who had been a housewife for the last decade or so, realizes she must make her own way in the world. She eventually lands a job as a first-year intern in the prestigious law firm of her former Georgetown classmate (and subsequent lover) Will Gardner (Josh Charles). Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 2)

2a Scandal

The depiction of Southern Christianity is limited somewhat on Nashville (see previous entry). It also makes a small but significant appearance on another popular prime time TV show: Scandal. Part The West Wing, part Homeland, Scandal develops in two locations, primarily: the Oval Office of the White House and the Office of Pope and Associates. The main characters of the show are Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a manager of political crises, and Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn), the President of the United States and Olivia’s sometimes lover. There is much that could be said about the show; for those unfamiliar with it, a good place to start is the Scandal homepage with its featured “OMG Moments” (something of a nod to religion?). Continue reading

Religion on the Television (Part 1)

1 Nashville REV

A recent article in the online journal Religious Dispatches discusses the Southern Christian presence, or lack thereof, on the hit television show Nashville. In an intriguing analysis, writer Carrie Allen Tipton points to the popular “spirituality” the show displays instead of the evangelical piety one would expect to find in a program situated in the Bible Belt and devoted to the culture of country of music. Perhaps the a-religiosity of the show can be attributed to the presumed proliferation of the unaffiliated—the “nones” so visible in the press of late. In any case, church going, if it is mentioned at all, seems a matter of nostalgia for Nashville’s leading characters. The church choir of long ago is recalled with affection, but those sacred precincts of yesteryear have been replaced for the show’s heroes with new sanctuaries: the Bluebird Café, in particular, and the famous Ryman Auditorium. Continue reading

Commonwealth Day 2014, London

queen commonwealth day

Thanks to tickets provided to us by the English-Speaking Union, Catherine Roach and I were in Westminster Abbey on March 10th to join Her Majesty the Queen and an assembly of loyal subjects in a ceremony to commemorate Commonwealth Day. The Commonwealth is a consortium of 53 states, most of which were part of the British Empire at one time or another: Canada, India, Pakistan, South Africa (not a member during the apartheid era), for example, alongside smaller nations such as Namibia, Malta, Kenya, Singapore, and Grenada. Continue reading