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Faith, Film, and Philosophy Series 2023

A series of events on multiverses and alternate reality in film especially as it relates to concerns of faith.
September 25-29, Gonzaga University

The idea of multiple universes existing simultaneously has roots in both philosophical reflections on possible worlds and contemporary physical cosmology but has become a major theme in recent popular films, such as 2023 Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once and movies in the Marvel Universe. These explorations of other cinematic worlds join older films that explore alternate possible paths of experience and action such as the classic Run, Lola Run, virtual realities of The Matrix and the Westworld series, imaginary worlds of fantasy films such as Avatar, alternative history explorations such as The Man in the High Castle, and films such as Total Recall that combine different forms of alternative reality. What motivates cinematic interest in alternate realities, especially at this particular historical moment? Do multiverse and alternate reality films reflect fears of possible dystopias far worse than the world we inhabit? Better possibilities to inspire us? Variant duplications of the world that we find more intriguing than mundane reality?

The Gonzaga Faith & Reason Institute is sponsoring a series of public events on “Multiverses and Alternate Realities: Other Worlds in Film” the week of Monday, September 25, to Friday, September 29, 2023 on the campus of Gonzaga University, in Spokane, WA. Students, faculty, staff, and community are invited to attend any of these events. All events are FREE admission. 


Event Schedule

Monday, Sept 25, 7 pm

Brian Clayton, Gonzaga Philosophy Professor Emeritus

“It's a Wonderful Life in the Multiverse”



Tuesday, Sept 26, 7 pm

Run, Lola Run (1998) FREE film screening and panel discussion


Scheduled panelists:

  • Dan Bradley (Philosophy, Gonzaga; Philosophy and Film instructor; author / speaker on films of Clint Eastwood and David Lynch)
  • Kevin Decker (Philosophy, Eastern Washington University; editor / coeditor of a number of books on philosophy and popular culture such as the recent Star Wars and Philosophy Strikes Back: This Is the Way)
  • Richard McClelland (Philosophy, Gonzaga, retired; coeditor of The Philosophy of Clint Eastwood)
  • Mary Pat Treuthart (Gonzaga Law; co-host of “Movies 101” at Spokane Public Radio)


Wednesday, Sept 27, 7 pm

student panel discussion: “What is the Meaning of the Multiverse?”


Student panel presenters:

  • Louis Charboneau (Gonzaga University), “Original and Copied Selves and Realities in Ready Player One
  • Connor Mahoney (Gonzaga University), “Determining the Self across Multiple Multiverse Selves: The One
  • Caleb McGever (Whitworth University), “Dreams to Reality: Living in the Multiverse in Inception
  • Nora Macrae-Smith (Gonzaga University), “The Escapist Therapy of Simulated Reality in Maniac: A Kierkegaardian Critique”


Thursday, Sept 28, 7 pm

Robert K. Johnston, Senior Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

“The Meaningful Meaninglessness of Multiverse Movies: Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ecclesiastes, and Camus”



Friday, Sept 29, 7 pm

Steven D. Greydanus, film critic & founder of Decent Films

“Crisis of Meaning on Infinite Earths: Humanism and Nihilism in Superhero Multiverse Movies”



Featured Speakers

Brian Clayton

Brian B. Clayton

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Gonzaga University; former director of the Gonzaga Faith & Reason Institute; coauthor of Two Wings: Integrating Faith and Reason (2018); coeditor of The Philosophy of Clint Eastwood (2014).


Robert K. Johnston, Senior Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

Robert K. Johnston

Senior Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary; author / coauthor of books on theology and film including Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film (2004), Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue (2nd ed 2006), and Deep Focus: Film and Theology in Dialogue (2019)


Steven D Greydanus

Steven D. Greydanus

Film critic with film reviews and commentary in media such as National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, Crux, Christianity Today, and Catholic World Report; founder of Decent Films; member of New York Film Critics Circle; Deacon in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.



If you have any questions regarding the Faith, Film, and Philosophy 2023 Series, please contact David Calhoun, Director of the Gonzaga Faith & Reason Institute, at