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Sabine Baring-Gould: Hymns and Werewolves

I sometimes think I am a strange phenomenon. I work in the area of theology and cultural studies on the one hand, and yet also have this interest in the fantastic and bizarre in popular culture, including horror, science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal. From time to time, however, I discover that there have been, and are, others like me.

In a previous interview Matt Cardin shared the strong connection between religious scholarship and the vampire, in particular the work of two Christian scholars who addressed this area. More recently another colleague of mine, Philip Johnson of Australia, introduced me to the work of a similar gentleman, 19th century Anglican clergyman Sabine Baring-Gould. He is best known for having written the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but many conservative Christians might be aghast by his interests in other areas, including folklore in some horrific expressions. In this arena he wrote about werewolves and similar phenomena. His best known work in this area was The Book of Werewolves published in 1865. It can be downloaded for free at the Internet Archive after entering a search for his name. The book is also available at Amazon.com.

So while some may find my interests in theology and culture, as well as the fantastic and bizarre in popular culture, peculiar if not allegedly incompatible, I would point them toward those in the past with similar interests, as well as those religion scholars in the present with such pursuits, including Antoine Favre and J. Gordon Melton on vampirism.

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