So, tag this as bizarro. My mother-in-law calls us tonight to tell us she saw our church history professor from Brite Divinity School Mark Toulouse on Wheel of Fortune today.
Apparently they're running a Best Friends Week in Dallas and he teamed up with colleague Ethics and Black Church Studies professor Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas. I can't wait to see them at SBL-AAR. The ribbing will be unending, I'd presume. Kuddos to them.
Here's a nice bit from the contestant interview:
Wheel: "WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON DOING WITH THE MONEY IF YOU WIN BIG ON WHEEL?"
Contestant: "We'll probably travel and use the money to fund a joint research and writing project."
I'm sure the producers thought this was just the most interested answer that they'd ever heard to that quest... *snore*
Update: I received an email from Mark, and as it turns out, they auditioned intentionally as a way of exploring their common interest in American pop culture in relation to religious values. From my brief conversation with Stacey when I met her last year, I'm not surprised. She strikes me as very talented and dynamic. And what better way to study pop culture than to experience it? From a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article of August 26, 2006:
When the pair auditioned for Wheel's 'Best Friends' week, several episodes of which were taped Friday at Nokia Theatre for airings in late October and early November, they had an academic interest in mind. Both are professors at TCU's Brite Divinity School with an interest in religion in popular culture, and they saw an opportunity to experience a pop-culture sensation from the inside (their game is scheduled to air Oct. 30 on KTVT/Channel 11). 'We thought it was really important to have a better perspective of the phenomenons that we study,' Floyd-Thomas said after the taping.Mark said to me in his email, "We’re working on a book on popular culture in America, and grabbed the opportunity to experience it firsthand. I’d have to say, it was a very different experience." I bet it was.
Still, Mark's a smart man... I would rather see how he'd do on Jeopardy.
Update: Mark's brand new book is available for preorder: God in Public: Four Ways American Christianity and Public Life Relate. Author's copies arrived this week, so should be available soon. I'm going to have a look at it at SBL-AAR. When I read bits on public life, whether books or newspaper editorials, I'm often struck by a lack of portability. Epitomes of the life of the greater public are so contextualized... so many of us really do live in entirely different worlds.