The Left Melting Down, and How to Save a TV Show

Originally posted 1/18/06

Looking over the message boards that NBC has for The Book of Daniel, I get the sense that the left can’t take what they dish out. For some reason, God has no place in the public forum, but anything and everything else does.

For some odd reason that I am unable to fathom, it is good to see a family with a bumbling idiot drug addicted priest whose wife has a martini addiction, and who’s kids, father and boss are morally bankrupt is great television. Oh, let’s not forget the caricature of Jesus: Nice, easy going, friendly, and all around great guy, unable to be the least bit sovereign. He seems to be so weak; that he has no ability to change lives without human cooperation. And there is the premise that all people are basically good. All of this love and flowers and goodness of man would make even Pelagius sick.

But it is unimaginably reprehensible for a group of people to address their concerns about a particular TV show. That has happened in Nashville and 3 or 4 other markets (why all the fuss of 4 or 5 markets. You have all of the rest of them showing it)

We live in a free market society. If a customer (viewer) does lot like a product (TV show) they have the right to express their concerns to those responsible for that product. They can turn off the TV, but they can also inform the station, the advertisers and those who are responsible for the production of that show that unless they want the consumers money, they will have to produce a product the consumer wants, and until that is done, the TV stations as well as the advertisers can expect none of the consumers money. There is no censorship here, that is just simple high school econ 101. In the case of Nashville WSMV decided they wanted the patronage of those who called and complained about the show. They complained, not enough people called in and praised the show, so WSMV pulled it. There was no censoring, they were just simply giving the consumers they heard from what they wanted. Many on the left did this kind of thing when Mel Gibson’s movie came out, so what is the problem with the Church doing it in this case? Oh, wait a minute; the rules are different for the left and the right. Sorry, my mistake.

There is a post by someone claiming to be Jack Kenny, the creator of The Book of Daniel. Here is the first paragraph:

First, I want to THANK all of you for the myriad messages of SUPPORT I’ve seen on this and many other boards and sites. Most everyone seems to understand that this is NOT any kind of attack or mocking of Christianity, but rather simply a fictional story in which the characters happen to be Christian. And also, very good people – despite being distilled down to their one or two flaws, something I don’t think any real person would care to have done to them either. So again, I thank you for your unwavering support and the fascinating discussion I’ve been witness to on these sites.

For the remainder of this entry, I will assume that the poster is Mr. Kenny, and will make a retraction if the opposite is proven to be true.

Mr. Kenny, this show IS an attack on the historic, orthodox Christian faith. I am not at all opposed to all of these issues being tackled in an intelligent, and Biblical way. Weather you like it or not, and weather you intended to or not, you are not answering the fundamental question in the situations you create: how does the Gospel change these lives? Another question is what does the Gospel require of us when we see our pastors family struggling? I am not looking for stones to throw, I am looking for people coming along side a troubled family, and walking with them through their insanity. I am looking for an elder board that loves the pastor well enough to carry the priest and his family through some tough circumstances.

I know families who have had to deal with drug addicts, alcoholics, sex addicts, and kids who deal with homosexuality. There is no magic formula for dealing with these issues. Overbearing condemnation is just as destructive as letting the desire for friends and family to “just be happy”. What about healthy? What about holy? Life is far too difficult to just reduce Biblical sanity to “happiness”.

Scripture tells us that there is none who is good, except One. That One is the Creator of the universe. The Creator alone has the right to define what is good. He alone has the right to define what love is. He alone has the right to define right and wrong.

You have taken that One, and reduced Him to a nice moral friend. The Jesus we read of in Scripture bears no resemblance to the Jesus you have created in your show. You will find that when there is such an obvious difference between what we see on TV, and what we read about in Scripture, the Church will not take it lightly. We will not sit by and allow His character to be diluted in the way you have done. The reason that The Passion was embrace by the Church, and your show is garnering such opposition is on this one point: The Church believed that Mel Gibson sought to portray Jesus as He is, not how Mel would like Jesus to be. Your show has shown Jesus to be something else altogether.

The Church is made up of sinful, people. The best of us are in desperate need of the grace of Jesus every second of our lives. However, we will not allow Jesus to be diluted as you, and others before you, have done.

Don’t give us some show that makes the people more moral. That is a facade and we can smell it a mile off. Rather, give us a show that shows us Jesus as He really is. You have shown us that we as humans are far worse off that we think, now, save the show and show us Jesus loving us far more than we dare hope or dream possible. Give us a show that shows that Jesus loves us far more than we could ever deserve, but loves too much to leave us as we are. Show us the Biblical Gospel, and we will set our VCR’s; DVR’s, TIVO’s, and DVD recorders to watch.

Posted by Paul C. Quillman at 1/18/2006 11:17:00 PM

Advertisements

The Left Melting Down, and How to Save a TV Show

Looking over the message boards that NBC has for The Book of Daniel, I get the sense that the left can’t take what they dish out. For some reason, God has no place in the public forum, but anything and everything else does.

For some odd reason that I am unable to fathom, it is good to see a family with a bumbling idiot drug addicted priest whose wife has a martini addiction, and who’s kids, father and boss are morally bankrupt is great television. Oh, let’s not forget the caricature of Jesus: Nice, easy going, friendly, and all around great guy, unable to be the least bit sovereign. He seems to be so weak; that he has no ability to change lives without human cooperation. And there is the premise that all people are basically good. All of this love and flowers and goodness of man would make even Pelagius sick.

But it is unimaginably reprehensible for a group of people to address their concerns about a particular TV show. What has happened in Nashville and 3 or 4 other markets (why all the fuss of 4 or 5 markets. You have all of the rest of them showing it)

We live in a free market society. If a customer (viewer) does lot like a product (TV show) they have the right to express their concerns to those responsible for that product. They can turn off the TV, but they can also inform the station, the advertisers and those who are responsible for the production of that show that unless they want the consumers money, they will have to produce a product the consumer wants, and until that is done, the TV stations as well as the advertisers can expect none of the consumers money. There is no censorship here, that is just simple high school econ 101. In the case of Nashville WSMV decided they wanted the patronage of those who called and complained about the show. They complained, not enough people called in and praised the show, so WSMV pulled it. There was no censoring, they were just simply giving the consumers they heard from what they wanted. Many on the left did this kind of thing when Mel Gibson’s movie came out, so what is the problem with the Church doing it in this case? Oh, wait a minute; the rules are different for the left and the right. Sorry, my mistake.

There is a post by someone claiming to be Jack Kenny, the creator of The Book of Daniel. Here is the first paragraph:

First, I want to THANK all of you for the myriad messages of SUPPORT I’ve seen on this and many other boards and sites. Most everyone seems to understand that this is NOT any kind of attack or mocking of Christianity, but rather simply a fictional story in which the characters happen to be Christian. And also, very good people – despite being distilled down to their one or two flaws, something I don’t think any real person would care to have done to them either. So again, I thank you for your unwavering support and the fascinating discussion I’ve been witness to on these sites.

For the remainder of this entry, I will assume that the poster is Mr. Kenny, and will make a retraction if the opposite is proven to be true.

Mr. Kenny, this show IS an attack on the historic, orthodox Christian faith. I am not at all opposed to all of these issues being tackled in an intelligent, and Biblical way. Weather you like it or not, and weather you intended to or not, you are not answering the fundamental question in the situations you create: how does the Gospel change these lives? Another question is what does the Gospel require of us when we see our pastors family struggling? I am not looking for stones to throw, I am looking for people coming along side a troubled family, and walking with them through their insanity. I am looking for an elder board that loves the pastor well enough to carry the priest and his family through some tough circumstances.

I know families who have had to deal with drug addicts, alcoholics, sex addicts, and kids who deal with homosexuality. There is no magic formula for dealing with these issues. Overbearing condemnation is just as destructive as letting the desire for friends and family to “just be happy”. What about healthy? What about holy? Life is far too difficult to just reduce Biblical sanity to “happiness”.

Scripture tells us that there is none who is good, except One. That One is the Creator of the universe. The Creator alone has the right to define what is good. He alone has the right to define what love is. He alone has the right to define right and wrong.

You have taken that One, and reduced Him to a nice moral friend. The Jesus we read of in Scripture bears no resemblance to the Jesus you have created in your show. You will find that when there is such an obvious difference between what we see on TV, and what we read about in Scripture, the Church will not take it lightly. We will not sit by and allow His character to be diluted in the way you have done. The reason that The Passion was embrace by the Church, and your show is garnering such opposition is on this one point: The Church believed that Mel Gibson sought to portray Jesus as He is, not how Mel would like Jesus to be. Your show has shown Jesus to be something else altogether.

The Church is made up of sinful, people. The best of us are in desperate need of the grace of Jesus every second of our lives. However, we will not allow Jesus to be diluted as you, and others before you, have done.

Don’t give us some show that makes the people more moral. That is a facade and we can smell it a mile off. Rather, give us a show that shows us Jesus as He really is. You have shown us that we as humans are far worse off that we think, now, save the show and show us Jesus loving us far more than we dare hope or dream possible. Give us a show that shows that Jesus loves us far more than we could ever deserve, but loves too much to leave us as we are. Show us the Biblical Gospel, ,and we will set our VCR’s; DVR’s, TIVO’s, and DVD recorders to watch.

Missed opportunities

Preach the Gospel at all times…when necessary, use words.

St. Francis of Assisi

As of the writing of this blog entry, the Book of Daniel has been pulled from the Nashville market. The local NBC affiliate received such an overwhelming response of dislike for the program, that the show will be replace with something else in that time slot. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed.

In my last entry, I pointed out there were some great opportunities to engage the culture. Instead of a large number of Christians saying “OK, Lets talk about homosexuality, addiction, drug abuse, warped marriages, bad relationships, love and the nature of Jesus”, a few very vocal people could not get past the offence to see the larger opportunity. It is sad, really. The church has taken a beating over the last 30 or 40 years for it’s stand on various issues. That does not mean that the position taken was wrong, but the approach could have been better.

There is a tendency in the church to run and hide under a rock and pretend that the “world” doesn’t exist, or to throw rocks at the world without regard for where those rocks hit. While the opposite extreme is not any better (ignoring or worse rubber stamping sin), we can call sin what it is, and then walk along side those who live life apart from Jesus and love them well. We need not fear that we will get trapped in their sin ourselves (although Scripture warns us to be prudent) we are called to go and preach the Gospel.

There is a watching world. It sees when we react in a knee-jerk way. It sees when we carelessly throw stones and needlessly harm people. It sees too much of this. It sees far too little of a church that is broken in repentance. It sees nothing of a church that serves in brokenness.

The Book of Daniel (the TV series) will most likely fall victim to another knee-jerk reaction by the evangelical community, and another opportunity will be lost to really engage the culture as opposed to running and hiding in fear, and we are the weaker for it.

Hope and Expectation

NBC has a new series that they hope will capture the highly courted Christian market. The Book of Daniel is not a TV adaptation of the Old Testament prophet; rather it is about an Episcopalian priest, named Daniel Webster, and his family. (And, yes, this Webster is related to the famous one.)

The evangelical community has been up in arms over this show, even before the first episode aired. The brief complaints I have heard were mainly centered around one of the priests’ kid is gay.

My first reaction to the complaining was to roll my eyes. The first episode had not even aired, and there was a war starting already. Immediately, I could see how this COULD be an amazing story about how the Gospel can affect even the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, I am not so naive as to expect NBC Universal to get it right. But, there is always hope. A TV series that explorers how the Gospel affects a family with an openly gay child could be amazing.

But, those are just some thoughts I had before seeing the pilot episode.

There is much more to the series than an Episcopalian priest with a gay son. The priest himself has a slight addiction to painkillers. He also is complicit in getting his bishop, Dr. Beatrice Congreve addicted to them as well. Speaking of the bishop, she is sleeping with another bishop, Bishop Bertram Webster, who already has a wife, with Alzheimer’s. This happens to be Daniel’s parents. Daniel also excuses a couple that is living together with out the benefit of marriage.

Daniel and his wife have three kids. The oldest, Peter, is gay. The next in line, Adam, is adopted from China, and has no problem getting whatever he wants from the ladies. The youngest, Grace, is a girl. She is an aspiring comic book artist that wants some more powerful software and hardware to improve her art, and she will do anything to get it, including selling drugs.

Daniel’s wife, Judith, is not without her own issues. Any time life gets the least bit hard, she runs for the nearest martini. Her sister’s husband was hired by Daniel to oversee some funds at the church to build a school. He skips town and is found dead. Fearing the worst, Daniel has a Catholic priest friend call in the mob to quietly find the dead guy and the money. There is concern that the dead guy ran off with his secretary, but the truth is much better. Evidently, Judith’s sister and brother in law had a boring marriage. So, to “spice it up a little” they brought the secretary into the relationship. The newly widowed woman seems to have fallen in love with the secretary. And this is not the first time this has happened.

Now to my favorite part, the role of Jesus. Jesus comes off like some hip, cool, guy that seems to have all the answers. The writers have fallen into the trap that many evangelicals do; mischaracterizing the nature of Jesus. In this series, Jesus main characteristic is niceness. Yes, Jesus is kind, gentle, a friend to sinners, merciful, forgiving ect. But He is also righteous, holy, sovereign, worthy to be worshiped as He instructs, not as our vain imaginations decide to.

Now to the more technical aspects of the show. The writing is less than compelling. It pulls up the same old arguments that liberals have been using against Christians for a number of years. Theologically it takes Scripture out of context, much like the Left Behind series does. The music was as riveting as watching paint dry, and the stained glass window ending before every commercial break was done on the old show “Our House”.  I am yawning just thinking about it. It is too bad really. All of these issues could be dealt with in a redemptive fashion.  Not like 7th Heaven, which tends to be a bit moralistic, but in a real and meaningful way.  How does the Gospel change what we do? How does Jesus direct us in dealing with real world tough issues like homosexuality, promiscuity, breaking the law, addiction, affairs, and the like? What does Scripture say about dealing with habitual sin that seems impossible to break?  What about the less obvious struggles of life? Being a pastor is no walk in the park, if you are fulfilling the role in a Biblical way. What does the Bible say about love, or discipline, or the nature of God? All of these things could be addressed in this show, but the reality is that it is probably not the case.

There are 3 or 4 markets that have pulled the show already, choosing to fill the time slot with other shows. It would be unfortunate if this show were to be canceled before running a bit of its course. As poorly done as the show is, overall, there are some opportunities for the church to engage the culture with the issues addressed in the show, and maybe affect the direction of the script over the coming months.