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How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Incisive insights into contemporary pop culture and its apocalyptic bent

The world is going to hell. So begins this book, pointing to the prevalence of apocalypse — cataclysmic destruction and nightmarish end-of-the-world scenarios — in contemporary entertainment.

In How to Survive the Apocalypse Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson examine a number of popular stories — from
Paperback, 198 pages
Published May 7th 2016 by Eerdmans
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Start your review of How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
Really fun read! James K.A. Smith's *Desiring the Kingdom* & Peter Leithart's *Solomon Among the Postmoderns* meet Breaking Bad, Mad Men, & Game of Thrones! ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, culture
In short, this was a fun and fascinating dive into some modern works of cultural art. Essentially, Joustra and Wilkinson take interpret movies and shows such as Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, and even Breaking Bad and Scandal and interpret them through the lens of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. Through diving into these stories which have been embraced by the modern culture, they are able to extricate values and concepts which lie right below the surface.

When I first
Adam Shields
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: great exploration of philosophy using TV and movie criticism. This is a book to read if you like tv and movie criticism. This is a book to read if you want to learn about modern philosophy (especially Charles Taylor). This is a good book to follow up with if you have read James KA Smith's How (Not) to be Secular (both are exploring Charles Taylor, but come at it from very different tacks.)

And no you do not have to have watched the movies or TV shows referenced to get something out
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pop culture meets philosopher Charles Taylor. Helpful cultural analysis.
Nathan Ecarma
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Joustra and Wilkinson know what they’re talking about but do not know how to talk about what they’re talking about.
The book allows for a laymen to understand prominent philosopher Charles Taylor’s idea without having to tread through his deep waters, but in doing so, the reader for this book will have to swim through murky waters to see his ideas.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another—doubtless very different—Benedict Option.
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: Explores the fascination of the apocalyptic in contemporary film, television, and gaming through the lens of Charles Taylor's work on secularism and the self.

"The world is going to hell.

Just turn on the television--no, not the news. Flip over to the prestige dramas and sci-fi epics and political dramas. Look at how we entertain ourselves. Undead hordes are stalking and devouring, alien invasions are crippling and enslaving, politicians ignore governance in favor of sex and power, and s
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating application of philosopher Charles Taylor's treatise on Secularism and the pathologies that naturally arise from such a worldview.

First is individualism, where we have the freedom to be anything we want, but with no higher aims and no greater social goal.

Second is instrumentalism, where success is defined by efficiency. In a disenchanted universe, everything is raw material or instruments for our own self desires. Even environmentalism is truly not a duty but a consideration of ou
Josh Sieders
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Another guide into the world of Charles Taylor (seems I'm running into him all over the place these days), I enjoyed the way the authors examined elements of entertainment pop culture as a way to shed light on the ethos of modern day North America. As I have watched several of the shows and movies mentioned, this book helped me understand why, even as a Christian, I am drawn to these stories and the tensions they invoke. I especially appreciated the authors balanced approach to a relativistic ag ...more
Leda Frost
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
“To be mad in a deranged world is not madness; it’s sanity.” - The End of the F***ing World

Human beings don’t behave irrationally. That’s one of the points Joustra and Wilkinson argue. The catch? That what we consider to be rational is dependent on an array of variables that differ for everyone, which is really helpful when you’re trying to survive the apocalypse.

I mean it. It is helpful to remember that.

While we haven’t had an apocalyptic experience as of late, they abound in fiction. The two
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I wanted to like this book so much, and the subject matter seemed perfectly suited to my likes (reading Charles Taylor through the lens of Breaking Bad and the Hunger Games?? Sign me up!) but the writing was just a bit too jumbled and "academic", which I write in quotes because as someone who is married to a humanities professor I know it's very possible to write material about complicated ideas that's nevertheless more accessible than this. Alissa Wilkinson remains one of my favorite people to ...more
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wisdom literature disguised as pop culture analysis

I just finished Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age & James K A Smith’s How (Not) to be Secular. So this is the 3rd in the trilogy. And it is certainly the most enjoyable & helpful.

Someone said that if you want to understand our society’s fears, look to the popular horror movies. Our present day apocalypses also reveal our fears & pathologies. This book is a faithful guide to understanding our malaise. And, further, it points a positive way forward b
Benjamin Shurance
I came by this book at the library and picked it up right away because I really appreciate Alissa Wilkinson's writing (which is really just her Twitter account). This book is an examination of Western society as interpreted by Charles Taylor and illustrated by the apocalyptic stories prevalent in popular culture. So Walking Dead and Breaking Bad and Hunger Games (among others) are used as examples for the modern condition, as well as windows into our possibility to move beyond the iron cage. I'v ...more
Nicholas Varady-szabo
I listened to this on audible.

The title, and hearing Alissa speak at a creativity conference intrigued me intrigued me.

The authors explore the concept of apocalypse through our obsession with dystopian themed movies and tv shows, combined with Philosopher Charles Taylor’s theories about our cultures transition to a post Christian mindset.

I found this book deep! It explored themes that are profound, and that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed in the shows it references. At times the discussion a
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this in one sitting -- yes, I am that much of a geek. Joustra and Wilkinson offer explanation and historical perspectives on apocalypse and utopia/dystopia and then they dive into pop culture, looking at dystopian and apocalyptic films and TV series from a philosophical and metaphysical perspective. The icing on the cake? The takeaway lesson is "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," from the very non-dystopian TV show "Friday Night Lights."

If you love cultural criticism and dystopian fictio
Andrew Johnson
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great about how a Christian should engage with culture. The authors do this through looking at popular TV Shows and Movies through the lens of the ideas of Charles Taylor(Who I feel I need read after this). They are able to make complex ideas of a philosopher come to life. I was able to see how I have let the ideas of culture impact more than Christ. Overall, it was fun and worthwhile read and will look forward to rereading it.
Rosie Gearhart
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
4.5 stars. Excellent introduction to the works of Charles Taylor (A Secular Age, The Malaise of Modernity), James K.A. Smith, and others as they relate to the apocalyptic and dystopian stories we find in current media. I haven’t seen or read the media mentioned but was still able to follow the authors’ points. This is a more academic book than the title would lead you to believe.
Aaron Guest
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great application of Charles Taylor and current cultural thematic touchstones in film and television. But it’s also a larger examination of the current philosophical and theological crisis that effect us all. (If you’re new to Taylor, this is a good entry into his thought.)

It ends with a sobering but rousing conclusion for those of us not wanting to abandon the city.
Tommi Karjalainen
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Another this-is-what-Charles-Taylor-means book. Obviously, with lots of movie references. The authors did not agree with everything which was refreshing. Not completely sure if the argument actually leads to endorsing pluralism rather than showing how to live within a pluralistic (secular) world.
Eric Gilchrest
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent and creative adaptation of Charles Taylor's philosophical work. If you're ready to dive headlong into Taylor, this would pair nicely with James K. A. Smith How (Not) to Be Secular. ...more
Steve Frederick
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found it a more helpful (and accurate) reflection on Charles Taylor than Jamie Smith’s book.
This book is more a primer on Charles Taylor's work than it is an actual, in-depth examination of apocalyptic and dystopian film and television. Still, for what it is, it's fairly interesting. ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Alissa Wilkinson and Robert Joustra take us on a tour through contemporary apocalyptic TV and movies. They also discuss why apocalyptic themes have become ubiquitous in modern media. The sensibility is not limited to material apocalypses but also what they refer to as moral ones - the complete destruction of moral mooring points.

They begin the book with a brief introduction to Charles Taylor’s framework and his idea of the social imaginary, the “series of pre-theoretical understandings and pract
How to Survive the Apocalypse is heavily indebted to the work of the philosopher Charles Taylor and especially his book A Secular Age. On the other hand, Robert Joustra's book is interested in taking this weighty tome and applying it to popular culture, especially television and film, and anchoring it to apocalyptic thought. Ultimately, How to Survive the Apocalypse is both mildly engaging and unsatisfactory.

The reader feels pulled in two very different directions with neither being adequately
This book is fun and philosophical, enjoyable and thought-provoking. There is certainly a market for Christians analyzing movies and pop culture, finding spiritual lessons in our entertainment. While this book could fit into that, it is much more. The first couple chapters are an extended summary of the philosophy of Charles Taylor, specifically focusing in on his book A Secular Age. That book is a behemoth, one of my all-time favorites and incredibly influential in philosophical circles. Starti ...more
David Smiley
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Crossing Charles Taylor and current trends in dystopian literature, Joustra and Wilkinson examine very real and deep philosophical issues found in contemporary apocalyptic storytelling. Whether it's the futuristic civilization of Panem, the zombie wasteland of the Walking Dead, or the existential apocalypse found in everyone's favorite anti-hero Walter White, the reader cannot help but find traces of Post-Enlightment philosophy buried in the stories of our favorite TV shows and movies. Normally, ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
That the United States and, for that matter, the rest of the West is being confronted and even innundated with stories of apocalypse and dystopia can be easily verified by a cursory examination of the TV, film, literature and music featured these days in popular culture. What accounts for this trend, nee, cultural shift is the question that the authors of "How to Survive the Apocalypse," seek to answer from the outset of this book which examines whether the world really is going to the figurativ ...more
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
"How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World" is a series of essays on the way certain works of popular culture can be interpreted theologically. It does a really good job of boiling down dense philosophical concepts so a lay reader can understand them.
Drawing primarily from the work of Charle Taylor (The Malaise of Modernity,A Secular Age), the authors parse shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Battlestar Galactica" for deeper meaning. BG looks at t
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