A professor of religion examines how romance novels and many other forms of popular culture emphasize the power of love to make all things turn out right, in the end.
"Given its prominence and power in pop culture today, we should consider how romance may be a religion for some people," said Lynn Neal, associate professor of religion.
"If religion provides people with a community, with a sense of meaning and purpose, and with a way to experience transcendence, then popular culture's promotion of romance certainly qualifies."
However, the concept of this transcendent power of love may not be true.
"Only in recognising something greater -- their love -- can a meaningful life be claimed -- an idea that resonates with elements of religion, namely finding purpose and completion in our lives," said Neal.
Romance novels and romantic comedies reflect the prominent ideas of the times, but to what extent do they shape and reinforce the 'religion of love?
"What are the implications of these idealistic portrayals?" he asked.
Neal concludes that though men and women intellectually understand that romantic love does not, in fact, conquer all, cultural pressures ratchet up the expectations for both sexes.
"Romance novels and films end with the couple having consummated their relationship, the sun sets, life is complete," he said.
"There's rarely a scene where the heroine is picking up the dirty socks from the floor."
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