Chris Deacy is a reader in theology and religious studies at the University of Kent.
Deacy studied at St David’s University College, Lampeter, both as an undergraduate and postgraduate. He was awarded a BA in Theology and then an MA in ‘Death and Immortality.’ His PhD, awarded in 1999, was entitled Screen Christologies: an Evaluation of the Christian Concept of Redemption and its Application through Film.’ He went on to teach at what was then Trinity College, Carmarthen.
In 2004, Deacy joined the University of Kent. He has been Senior Tutor for the School of European Culture and Languages since 2013. He has been the School’s Director of Teaching and Learning, as well as Head of Religious Studies. His first book, Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film, (University of Wales Press, 2001), was based on his PhD thesis. He laid the groundwork for examining how, in contemporary western society, film may be seen as a significant conveyor and agency of religious hopes and values.
He followed this up with Faith in Film: Religious Themes in Contemporary Cinema, (Ashgate, 2005). In it, he argued that cinema should be recognized as ‘a viable and fertile repository of religious significance in contemporary, western culture.’ Deacy investigated the way audiences wrestle with religious beliefs and values. The films he examined included Billy Liar, Groundhog Day and The Passion of the Christ; he balanced analysis of film narrative with viewer comments posted on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). In her review in Literature and Theology, Wright commented ‘Faith in Film is a rich study with much to recommend it.’
Deacy’s 2012 book, Screening the afterlife: theology, eschatology and film (Routledge, 2012) linked back to his Lampeter MA in Death and Immortality. He aimed ‘to juxtapose eschatological perspectives from within Christian theology with critical readings of a number of filmic texts that address questions of death and the afterlife.’
Moving on from film, Deacy published Christmas as Religion: Rethinking Santa, the Secular and the Sacred in 2016. He argued that Christmas is itself an inescapable religion; for him, consumerism can be religious and a religion can be both consumerist and transcendental. The religion of Christmas has an air of the transcendent, particularly as found in family and childhood nostalgia. In particular, he examines the fandom and sense of community generated by the annual radio programme, Christmas Junior Choice. Ribovich writes, ‘Above all, Deacy’s book is abundantly topical and interesting – where it leaves questions unanswered, it lays a foundation for others to build upon.’ Deacy has also written numerous book chapters and journal articles, mostly on the relationships between religion and film or religion and popular culture.
Deacy is currently working on a project on nostalgia and religion. He defines nostalgia as ‘the wistful yearning in space and/or time for a home that is no longer accessible.’ His research is supplemented by a series of podcast interviews entitled ‘Nostalgia.’ Many of his interviewees have a Lampeter connection; often they are ex-students or former members of staff. In the talks, he explores underlying questions such as ‘What is it that shapes us?’, ‘How did we end up where we are now,’ and ‘What influenced us in terms of the books, music, films, sporting events and the relationships and family members that brought us to where we are now.’
Deacy has been careful to maintain his links with UWTSD; in particular, he is currently vice-chair of the Lampeter Society.
University of Kent. (n.d.). Dr Chris Deacy. Retrieved June 29 2020 from https://www.kent.ac.uk/european-culture-languages/people/1618/deacy-chris#teaching
University of Kent. Kent Academic Repository. (n.d.). Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film. Retrieved June 29 2020 from https://kar.kent.ac.uk/1121/
Wright, M.J. (2007). [Review of the book Faith in film. Religious themes in contemporary cinema, by Christopher Deacy]. Literature and Theology, 21(1),104-105. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/23927315
Ortiz, G.W. (2012). [Review of the book Screening the afterlife: theology, eschatology and film by Christopher Deacy]. Journal of contemporary religion, 27(3),505-506. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2012.722303
Ribovich, L. (2019). [Review of the book Christmas as religion: rethinking Santa, the secular, and the sacred, by Christopher Deacy]. Journal of Religion, 99(2),236-238. https://doi.org/10.1086/702016
Deacy, C. (2020). Nostalgia and the ‘New visibility’ of religion. Religions, 11(5), 267. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050267