Diane Winston's new book, "Small Screen BIG PICTURE," was produced by a group of scholars as a challenging "reader" for college students. Over the years, Baylor University Press has produced a number of great choices like this that explore spirituality and popular culture--and this is a truly BIG book, weighing in at more than 500 pages.
I'm writing this review not for college students or teachers who already are hearing about this book if they are interested in these issues. (Diane managed to pull together a number of leading lights in this field of research to write the book's various sections.)
I'm writing for the hundreds of thousands of readers out there who coordinate small discussion groups, preach to congregations or teach in secular small-group settings. This is a challenging, provocative look at the spiritual themes in a remarkable set of TV dramas--the blossoming of major dramas in the first decade of the Third Millennium (and the decade shaped by 9/11). In this book, you'll read a lot about "Battlestar Galactica," "Deadwood," "The Wire," "The West Wing," "Everwood," "The O.C.," "Sleeper Cell," "Heroes," "Lost," "Prison Break," "Saving Grace" and "Sopranos."
To use this book in a small group, leaders should get copies and pick out series they want to explore--then consider the cutting-edge reflections shared by these authors. That's potent fuel to spark a discussion.
Diane herself in an interview about the book, says this: "To me, the most basic spiritual questions are: What am I doing here? How can I make a difference? And, what happens when I die? Those three questions are a great starting point for getting a discussion going in your small group about Battlestar Galactica or Sopranos or many of these other series."
I agree entirely.