Fortress Press

Playful, Glad, and Free: Karl Barth and a Theology of Popular Culture

Playful, Glad, and Free

Karl Barth and a Theology of Popular Culture

Jessica DeCou (Author)


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This book offers a critical analysis and reinterpretation of Karl Barth’s theology of culture—the least studied aspect of his work—revealing his significance for contemporary work in theology of culture by applying his approach to the study of popular culture and entertainment. Grounding the study in Barth’s eschatology, which proves more amenable to secular culture than other models, DeCou shows that Barth’s approach recognized that the freedom of theology is qualified by the freedom of the Word and the freedom of secular culture. Barth therefore offers a “middle way” for evaluating and analyzing culture and religious forms. This book thus opens up a new avenue of interpretation of Barth and applies the insights of Barth’s theology in fresh ways to the structures of contemporary culture and its products.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451465471
  • eBook ISBN 9781451469721
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 240
  • Emerging Scholars category Theology
  • Publication Date September 1, 2013


“Eberhard Jüngel once described Karl Barth as the happiest theologian of our age. But the playfulness of Barth's theology has never fully been explored—until now. In this wonderfully alert and exuberant study, Jessica DeCou develops a full-blown Barthian theology of popular culture. Drawing on Barth's understanding of work and play, she argues that the theologian's job is to play with popular culture in a way that respects the proper freedom and limits of cultural production. This is not only a creative and exciting new reading of Barth, but also an invitation to a more rigorous and more generous engagement with the everyday materials of popular culture.”
—Benjamin Myers
Charles Sturt University, Sydney, Australia
“Jessica DeCou's work is a rare combination of sustained theological ingenuity, a discerning eye for pop culture illustration, and an engaging appreciation for comedy. Serious yet highly readable, for scholars and for students.”
—Tom Beaudoin
Fordham University