Paul Ricoeur has described the present as a "period of mourning for the gods who have died," an intermediate time in which the ancient gods of morality have died of obsolescence and exhaustion. An essential theological task demanded in this period of mourning, he goes on to suggest, is a long recuperative wandering, a detour through the texts of our culture. In this detour we might discern a new way of being-in-the-world in response to a new understanding of divinity.33 I suggest that the five scripts just assembled (defiance, fear, escape, once-born, twice-born) are the products of some of the most creative minds of our time in

American culture. Within each type assertions are made about where trust ought to be placed or withheld, and about what may be fairly expected of the powers upon which our lives depend. This is a good place to begin in reading the signs of our time, a task that I believe, in good company, theology has a responsibility to undertake.

Aware, however, that a discipline for investigating popular culture already exists and hoping to stand on its shoulders in the investigation that is undertaken in this book, I turn first to examine the field of cultural studies in its various paths.

Theories of Popular Culture

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