Wrestling With Religion: Freedom, Violence, and Ultimate Concern on the Theodramatic Stage

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The intersection of religion and popular culture is largely understood as imposing traditional forms of religion onto popular culture phenomena. This conception restricts the role of religion to preconceived and formalized expressions of belief systems without recognizing the potentially vast expanse the concept of religion entails. By applying the models of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theodrama and Rene Girard’s mimetic theory to popular culture, the distinction between areas deemed sacred and profane is diminished, making it possible to re-imagine aspects of religion in all areas of existence. This thesis explores religion implicit in the oft-ignored phenomenon of professional wrestling, through which a fresh understanding of moral behavior, and the appeal of “bad” actors on the theodramatic and wrestling stage, may be seen as expressions of religion discerned independent of formalized definitions and traditional restrictions. In this theodramatic re-imagining, the category of religion expands beyond its current narrow confines to include areas not normally deemed religious.
Theodrama, Implicit Religion, Mimetic Theory, Professional Wrestling, Ultimate Concern
Fieseler, N. L. (2023). Wrestling with religion: freedom, violence, and ultimate concern on the theodramatic stage (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.