Friday, January 06, 2006

Why I'm supporting The Book of Daniel

Here's an email I got from someone to whom I'd suggested watching The Book of Daniel (an evangelical Christian, if you couldn't tell):

Show looks like they're trying to throw as much in as possible and then some. Why do you want your faith to be seen like that? So what if it actually happens, I know that. Our previous pastor molested children, but that doesn't mean I want it broadcasted to millions of people that yeah, we're human too. It doesn't seem like it will lead people to Christ and isn't that the mission for the church. Only make excuses for sinful behavior and say it's ok, which seems to me like it would be a hindrance. Please explain to me why you think this will be so good for your religion and you.

Here is my response:

I absolutely want millions of people to know that we are human too! Do you think Christians are super-human? You have said to me before that you know you sin every day. Why should we project an image that we are something that we are not? In my experience, Christians who act like they are perfect don't win any converts - people just think they are arrogant. But if we are real and honest about our shortcomings, and how Jesus loves us anyway and walks beside us through them, then people find our faith truly attractive. If you didn't believe, would you think you could be accepted into a club that only lets in perfect people? Or a faith that is for those who are struggling honestly and who have found unlimited grace and mercy?

You may not like it, but God does forgive our sins over and over again...not to say it's okay, but also never does God condemn us. Your statements sound more like a Pharisee than like Jesus. They didn't like that he hung out with sinners either. They didn't like him forgiving people their flaws and faults. But he didn't care what they thought, and he kept on forgiving, and keeps on, no matter how many times we mess up.

Plus, let's remember, it's only a TV show - it's not church! If it can make people less afraid of entering a church because they realize Christians are regular people like they are then so much the better!! I don't want TV to replace church - that would be stupid. People who expect television to preach the gospel are taking away the job of the Church. No, it is only the job of TV to tell good stories and entertain us. If a show can rise to the level of actually educating - as this show may do for those ignorant about who real Christians are - then so much the better.

Also, you have to remember that whether or not your pastor's molestations became public, those of thousands of priests have become public. To act like that doesn't happen - to act like clergy don't sin - is to stick our heads in the sand. That perpetuates fantasy, pride, and insensitivity to victims of clergy abuse. No, it is always better to admit who we are than to pretend we are perfect.

What I see here - and you must remember I can only go by what I've seen on previews - is a TV show that is meant to be taken lightly and in good fun, like Desperate Housewives. It's about the foibles of humanity, and there is really no better place to explore that than in a church. At least sinners feel welcome in this church - as Jesus welcomed them.

There are positive things about the show, too: it portrays a woman in a position of hierarchial power (as bishop), it portrays stable and happy adult Christian homosexuals, it portrays a pastor with a living and vibrant relationship to a Jesus who is relevant and genuinely interested in his life. On 7th Heaven, the pastor's family seems to dislike or at least ignore God. You never see them pray. The children did all manner of things that many Christians would consider unbiblical, and the pastor-father had a crisis of faith and left the ministry. So why do Christians keep supporting that show? It seems just as bad if not worse to me.

At least on Book of Daniel, the minister has a relationship with God. Jesus is a character on the show! Isn't is better to see Jesus than to ignore him, pretending he isn't important in our lives, acting like he isn't relevant to our times?? I'm proud of them for putting him front and center, even if he is only in the mind of the priest.

It is a shame that it was buried on Friday night, and it will probably be cancelled shortly. But if one person watches it, realizes that there are churches where she might be welcomed, and decides to try one out that Sunday, then I say the right thing has been done by everyone involved.

1 comment:

betsy said...

I enjoyed the show; Jesus was definately the best part! I was surprised how much of it seemed fairly serious/sensitive, after seeing the promos that make it look as much like a mapcap comedy as possible.

The main character did seem rather niave about/befuddled by his son's gayness, which seemed weird to me...every priest I know has plenty of dealings with gay people, practically daily. Which doesn't necessarily make one's son's coming out especially easy...he just seemed unusually provincial for an Episocpalian.