Craig Detweiler

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Craig Detweiler (born 1964) is a U.S. author, filmmaker and cultural commentator resident in Los Angeles, CA, who is employed as a professor of Communication and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture [1] at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Detweiler grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Davidson College with a B.A. in English. He went on to receive a M.F.A. from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema/TV.[3] Later he received an M. Div and Ph.D in Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He served as Associate Professor and Chair of the Mass Communication Department at Biola University in La Mirada, California.


As a screenwriter, he has written over ten feature-length screenplays including The Duke (1999) for Buena Vista and the road trip comedy Extreme Days (2001). In 1996, he directed a documentary, Williams Syndrome: A Highly Musical Species which premiered at the Boston Film Festival.


Detweiler's first book, co-written with Barry Taylor, was A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture, dealing with relationships between advertising, movies, music, TV and the divine. This was followed by Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century (2008), discussing films including: Memento, Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Lord of The Rings and Little Miss Sunshine from a social, cultural, and theological perspective. A Purple State of Mind: Finding Middle Ground in a Divided Culture is a companion piece to his documentary film Purple State of Mind. In 2013, Detweiler published iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives which addressed the theological implications of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and The Singularity. He has also edited two collections of essays, Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God and Don't Stop Believin': Pop Culture and Religion from Ben-Hur to Zombies.


In 2008, Detweiler produced and directed a documentary, Purple State of Mind which explores the blue state/red state tension in the United States. In 2013, Detweiler produced and directed a documentary, unCommon Sounds which brought musicians to Lebanon and Indonesia to build sustainable peace through music. It premiered on ABC's "Visons and Values" series.[4]

Selected works[edit]

  • iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, Brazos Press, 2013
  • Don't Stop Believin': Pop Culture and Religion from Ben-Hur to Zombies, co-editor, Westminster John Knox, 2012
  • Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God, editor, Westminster John Knox, 2010
  • Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century, Baker Academic, 2008
  • A Purple State of Mind: Finding Middle Ground in a Divided Culture, Conversant Life, 2008
  • A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture, co-written with Barry Taylor, Baker Academic, 2003
  • "The Wire: Playing the Game" in Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, Diane Winston, editor, Baylor University Press, 2009
  • "Christianity and Film" in Routledge Companion to Religion and Film, John Lyden, editor, 2009


  • Producer, The City of Angels Film Festival, Directors Guild of America, West Hollywood, CA, 2009–2010
  • "From Adam to Sin Nombre," The Windrider Forum, Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, January 23, 2009
  • ABC News' Nightline, "Faith Matters," December 4, 2008
  • "Reel Spirituality: Finding God in the Dark," Seaver College, Fall Graduate Colloquium, Pepperdine University, October 28, 2008
  • Film Festival Programmer, "Reel Lives: The Cancer Chronicles," World Cancer Congress, Geneva, Switzerland, August 2008
  • "Seeing the Sacred in Contemporary Cinema," International Arts Movement, New York City, February 28, 2008
  • "When Hollywood Meets Religion: Is There Common Ground?" A Jewish-Christian dialogue with David Kauffman, Hebrew Union College, Jeff Astrof, producer of • "The New Adventures of Old Christine", Fuller Theological Seminary, January 17, 2008
  • "Theology and Film Reconsidered: Re-Framing the Discipline" at the American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA, November 2007
  • Dr. James and Hazel Grant Presidential Lectureship Series, "Finding God in Pop Culture," Simpson University, Redding, CA, November 2007
  • "Filmmaking and Social Change," WindRider Forum, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, July 2007
  • "Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story," interviewing Senator Sam Brownback, producers Ken Wales, David Hunt, and Patricia Heaton, Crest Theater, Los Angeles, February 2007
  • "Munich," with Dr. Michael Berenbaum of the University of Judaism at Reel Spirituality Conference, Directors Guild of America, October 2006
  • "Lived Religion and the Television Drama," Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, September 2006
  • CNN, The Situation Room, "Da Vinci Controversy," May 17, 2006
  • "Significant Conversations," Plenary Address, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Dallas, TX, March 31, 2006
  • CNN, Paula Zahn Now, "Hollywood and Religion," March 26, 2006
  • "Retrenchment of Resurrection? Hollywood and the Religious Community after 'The Passion'," Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, April 2005

Affiliations and awards[edit]

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • American Academy of Religion, "Religion, Film and Visual Group," steering committee, 2007–2012
  • Audience Award, "Purple State of Mind," Tallahassee Film Festival, 2009
  • Best Spiritual Film, "Purple State of Mind," Breckenridge Festival of Film, 2008
  • Finalist, Book of the Year, Into the Dark, Collide Magazine, 2008
  • Finalist, Gold Medallion in Theology, A Matrix of Meanings, 2004
  • Cine Golden Eagle, "Williams Syndrome", 1996
  • Silver Award, Feature Documentary, "Williams Syndrome," WorldFest Charleston, 1996
  • Crystal Heart Award, "Williams Syndrome," Heartland Film Festival, 1996


External links[edit]