Monday, April 27, 2009
I was watching one of my favorite shows Arrested Development last night when I started to think about the entertainment industry's idea of Christianity. Not in a typical way though- I was thinking about how far off they are when defining us. Arrested Development is one of the funniest shows EVER. There is no question about it. The Christian character is named Anne Veal. She's the girlfriend of the protagonist's son, George Michael. She's is plain, frumpy and quite the Christian. She had a record burning party, her family's Christmas party consists of Silent Prayer and sitting around a cross singing weird Jesus songs, her Uncle thinks the Jews buried fossils... It's pretty funny stuff. But it made me start to think about the fact that screenwriters don't know about us. They have their generalization and bizarre ideas concerning our subculture of Christianity. Don't get me wrong- I really think sometimes they get it dead on. We have it coming in many areas.Growing up in the church gives me many, many ideas for Ned Flanders and Anne Veal.
I am a HUGE Simpsons fan. I've listened to all the commentary on DVDs and heard the writers say that they really researched Buddism, Hinduism, and even Judaism for the sake of quality in their story telling. But if shows are going to do their major research on other religions and how they operate why not do the same for Christianity? Especially when so many claim to hve everything about us penned down and know what we're all about.
Here's a few of the "TV CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES" That I've noticed over the years:
1. We know nothing about sex or sexuality/We think of sex as being a sin except to reproduce.
WRONG. Sorry guys. We're pretty sexual people. Just because we believe that God has a plan for sex (just like everything else) doesn't mean we have our heads stuck in sand about the rest of it. We don't deny the pleasure of sex and we don't think that it's wrong.(Well there are some party poopers out there...) We've even got our own romance book stuck right in that little book we read. You should read it sometime. It's pretty hot stuff. (Arrested Development has a perfect example: "Meet the Veals" episode. http://www.hulu.com/watch/13206/arrested-development-meat-the-veals)
2. We think of our faith as the "Holier than thou" Club.- In this nice little idea we enjoy sermons such as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and think of ourselves as pre-ordnained tattle tails who enjoy all of the sinners descent into the lake of fire. We have no intention of stopping you. We'll just enjoy it. (Flanders thanks God for flooding the earth again thinking he's been spared in the episode "Mom and Pop Art" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mom_and_Pop_Art)
3. We believe that good works get us to heaven. Mr. Flanders is more than guilty of this. He's constantly trying to be good and tithe just to make sure he's golden with the Big Man upstairs. What other reason would he have to be a good neighbor to Homer J. Simpson?
4. We have terrible taste in entertainment.- We are afraid of the art world and only watch or listen to Christian artists even if that means sacrificing quality or beauty.
5. We abstain from everything- Once again Ned Flanders plays this quite well. He only eats plain things: White bread, water, plain yogurt. Alchohol is evil and not even spicy food is okay. In the last episode he made "Devil's Food Cake". When Rev. Lovejoy challenges him on it he breaks down and admits that it's just "Angel's food cake with chocolate frosting."
6. Catholic/Protestant: This one really gets my goat, do your research people!! The episode of Arrested Development that spurred me to write this had George Michael saying that his girlfriend Anne had to go to "Pre-dawn mass and then they had to go to mass." Her father is pastor of his church... there's a great deal of confusion between Catholic and Protestant beliefs and traditions.
7. We're afraid of anything/anyone/everything that isn't Christian. This includes: Hollywood, Democrats, Birth Control, Jews, and foreign countries. The whole Christians are anti-semitic thing kills me everytime. If you are an anti-semitic Christian you should really re-think you're whole relationship with Jesus. (Angela on THE OFFICE)
8. We've all got stock piles of food and a fall-out shelter for the apocalypse. Here's the thing... I don't plan to be here for that...soo... no need to pickle anything or dig a hole in the backyard for the coming doom.
9. We're only pro-life because we don't want women to be anything but baby makers. This one I don't really have anything to say about... except for it's really, really sad and we're not saying enough about our love of women and the unborn.
10. We're ignorant and stick to our guns because we're backwards.. Faith requires an extrodinary amount of soul searching and constant questioning and reasoning. We don't just plow into ideas because we think they are easy. There are brillant men and women who believe that Jesus is God.
I love my TV shows that I can watch on my computer (we don't have TV anymore) and I wouldn't stop watching them. Sometimes they make really good points about our hypocrisy. They may also lead me to thinking more deeply about why I believe something. Now if I could just get onto some of the writing teams for these shows to bring a little bit more reality to the TV Christian...