Book Review: So Say We All

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so say we all book review

I recently had the privilege of being in Denver for some academic conferences, where I acquired a fair few books personally (professionally, I’ve got to go through some meetings before acquiring books yet to be written!) and for work purposes – one of these was the slim volume I’m reviewing today. I’ve enjoyed Battlestar Galactica (henceforth BSG) for a while, and so when I saw this book advertised it went on the wishlist straight away. Monge-Greer has written this little book – at just 102 pages – which is simultaneously a readable overview of a popular sci-fi series, and a theological-religious studies interaction with it.

As an overview, So Say We All is not particularly spoiler-free – but that is to be expected in a book that expertly and through a fan’s eyes covers 4 seasons with a total of 76 episodes. Some of the more graphic description might put people off – but that would be to miss out on a show that blends a range of themes, beyond the theological and religious that Monge-Greer explores here, to create a compelling watch. Certainly reading this book reignited my desire to re-watch (not sure if it’d be the third or fourth time!) Battlestar Galactica, and possibly to do so with a deconstructing or non-Christian friend – this last point relates to the fact that So Say We All is a book that lends itself to being discussed, because religion is part of the fabric of the show it examines.

Monge-Greer writes in the first third of the book that “The overarching BSG narrative believes in its religion. Spirituality is real, deities are real ancient figures, and they are also reincarnated personifications of the characters“. Yet this is a comment on the shape of the series – what starts with a triumph of secular science (or so it might appear) resolves itself in a rich spiritual narrative. By dint of it’s short extent (102 pages! You can read it quite quickly) So Say We All doesn’t dig deep into any one topic, though the way that it engages ‘God’, ‘The Wilderness & The Promised Land’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Existential Crisis & Enlightenment’ and ‘Ethical Warnings and a Chance at Redemption’ (the topics, dealt with by chapter, before a short conclusion) leaves fertile ground for further engagement. A particular theme that flows through, which of course I was particularly interested in, was the question of what it means to be human, with a particular conversation around the body and what a human body is. Or isn’t.

This is a book of complex binaries – perhaps there are some dialectics at work – and one that reinvigorated my interest in some of the theological anthropological questions that I’d like to explore. I would recommend this book to fans of BSG, whether theologically educated or not, and think it could have an interesting shelf life: as an unexpected conversational aid, as a gateway into BSG, and as a prompt for future thought. With the latter two in mind, I’d suggest that it is well worth reading for anyone working in theological disciplines, particularly those interfacing with culture and scientific disciplines.

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