26 February 2008

ER's "Atonement" and the absent Gospel

by Dan Phillips

This clip from a recent episode of ER has made the rounds among the blogs, and deservedly so — it's very powerful.

The episode, titled "Atonement," was broadcast on January 17, 2008. Here's the clip:



The following scene is also telling, but has attracted less comment. The good doctor finds the distraught chaplain outside, sitting by herself, reeling over the exchange. She's played by the wonderful Reiko Aylesworth (who fared better as Michelle Dessler on 24) , and here's how it goes:
Chaplain: You know... doubt... it's uncomfortable. But certainty -- I don't think it's real. I -- I, I I went to seminary, I studied Buddhism, I spent time in an ashram... who really knows anything with absolute certainty.

Doctor: Not me. That's for sure.

Chaplain: That's why I thought an inclusive approach to spirituality would work well in a place like this.

Doctor: It does! It does. The patients, they appreciate what you do.

Chaplain: No, people in crisis want rules. They want structure, something to lean on. I get that. But it's not me.

[See it here, starting at about three minutes]
Count the ironies, intended and otherwise.

After this exchange, the doctor then encourages Chaplain Reiko to get back in there and help the patient. He'll be there with her. But she won't do it. He persists, and so does she. So he leaves her. The liberal, "inclusive" female chaplain has failed.

So later the doctor has to do it himself, has to try to help the guilty, haunted man.

What does he offer him? Not much. Insistence that the retired doctor's good deed counts for something. The suggestion is that his rescuing the boy from drowning outweighs his "bad" deeds (administering lethal injection to the boy's father, who later turned out to have been framed).

For some reason the man, though having just shredded young Chaplain PoMo, accepts this equally Godless, equally trackless, equally baseless, equally shapeless pablum, from the doctor.

And that's the resolution. (Watch it here.)

What the doctor offers is in no way better than what the chaplain offered. It's sheer human-viewpoint gobbledy-gook, double-talk, and equivocation. The rest of the episode wallows in such moral relativism. Ultimately, there is no "there" there. Absolutely wonderful windup; absolutely no pitch, whatever.

Still, it is refreshing to see Hollywood frame the question and the issue fairly vividly, isn't it? Yet even in that framing, the picture is blurred. The "cause" being championed is yet another Hollywood favorite: opposition to the death penalty. Did the doctor actually do anything immoral? He had come to think so, and his grief is turned as a comment against capital punishment.

Now, had the writers really wanted to stretch themselves and defy convention, they could have made the doctor an abortionist. For instance, he could have been one of the sorts of doctors who recently advised a British couple to abort their baby because the unborn child was diagnosed with rhomboencephalosynapsis, would be born deaf and blind, and would only live an hour or two.

In the actual case, the parents rejected the counsel, and the child was born perfectly healthy, in spite of the assured diagnosis his parents had received. But how many such children have been actually aborted, on the basis of equally flawed diagnoses? I know of another similar case myself.

The fictional doctor could have actually succeeded in convincing the couple to kill the child, and then discovered his error. That, or countless other of the living nightmares by which abortionists could rightly find themselves gripped when they paint a bull's-eye on a baby. Then we would have had a case of real guilt over a real moral wrong.

Ah, but the Hollywood that is wrought up over the fate of condemned killers, as a rule is not so concerned about the innocent unborn.

Even if they could have pulled this off — and the writers for House, M.D. and other dramas have indeed done some remarkable stretching — I still can't picture them being able to deliver on a credible Christian preacher.

As I've often observed and remarked: the most gifted screenwriters can concoct believable monsters, deviants, heroes, regular-joes, atheists, agnostics, all sorts of characters. But the believable depiction of a full-orbed Christian character is simply beyond them. Evidently they have never known (much less understood nor liked) even one credible, practicing, Biblically-faithful Christian. It's the one color missing from their palate — as starved for ideas as they are.

Otherwise, ER might have given us a real chaplain with a real God, a real Hell — and a real Gospel.

Rather than rehashes of the world's dyspel of tallied-works, judged by shifting, human, strictly-horizontal standards and laid in a balance, he might have preached the Gospel of Christ. He might have told them man of a just and holy God before whom indeed he stood guilty, condemned, and (in himself) hopeless (Romans 3:10-20). He could have shown sin to be a matter of real guilt, due to an offended Law that is without, above, and against us. He might have told him of the wrath of God against human sin, played out in the recurring cycles of our racial and individual rebellion (Romans 1:18-32).

And then he might have told of the righteousness of God revealed in the Gospel on the basis of faith alone — God's powerfully saving good news (Romans 1:16-17). He might have told of the Savior who came to meet the law's full demands, to absorb the full brunt of God's holy and righteous wrath, to pour out His blood in payment of man's incalculable debt (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:21-25). He could have told him of Jesus' Christ's death, His burial, and His bodily resurrection — which was God's "all-clear," signaling that He had paid the price of His people's sin in full (John 19:30; Romans 4:25).

In this way, the pastor could have assured the man, God can be perfectly righteous, and impute perfect righteousness to the one trusts savingly in Jesus (Romans 4:25). "This," he could say, "is how you can know God."

But Hollywood, for all that does captivate it, is not captivated by the beauty of the Gospel.

Nor, probably, can it be (1 Corinthians 1:18 — 2:14).

Dan Phillips's signature

63 comments:

Leberwurst said...

Dan,

Well, there you have it. Hollywood takes another swing and miss!

Ironically, they actually got the question right, "I need to know how to get forgiveness!"

At least they portrayed a tough, real, question... but how could they know the answer?

Matthew 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

donsands said...

That was a powerful clip.

Good post. Good things to think about.

" Evidently they have never known (much less understood nor liked) even one credible, practicing, Biblically-faithful Christian."

And that's ashame, for they are out there, speaking the truth in love.

And even in the old days of film, it seemed mostly a Catholic Gospel that was brought in to show God, and the Gospel.
Like in "On the Waterfront". Karl Malden preaches down in the ship, and does a good job, but it's not the pure Gospel, but more a good works deal.

DJP said...

That's right, Don: if there's any "Christianity," it's of the Roman variety. You can see that in this episode as well.

Leberwurst, I agree. I also think Hollywood thinks that merely asking the questions is, itself, meritorious. However, as I've tried to argue, a question ceases to be meritorious once it's been answered.

And so one thinks of Pilate's "What is truth?"

Great question. Pity he didn't heed the answer — which was standing right there in front of him.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"But the believable depiction of a full-orbed Christian character is simply beyond them."

As evidenced by "There Will Be Blood," which is technically wonderful, but clearly written by a 40-something who knows life mainly through video. The default crazy Christian pastor is plugged in once again. This is their default setting.

Certainty, you see, is a type of insanity.

DJP said...

Right.

And they're sure of that.

jeff said...

Dan,

This is why I can't tolerate American television and Hollywood movies. They never tell the truth about Christianity. It's all emotional gobledy-gook, like you said. It's all from a wishy-washy, touchy-feely, liberal viewpoint. They think they're so "creative", but they reject the most wonderful plan of salvation ever. Something so wonderful, no human mind could have ever created it. God bless.

HeavyDluxe said...

Dan,

Thanks for the post and the thoughts... Since we don't have TV at home, I had only seen the vid online and without the context of the full episode.

Your thoughts are dead on.

DJP said...

HD! Long-time, no see! Welcome back.

The Doulos said...

Hmmm. A doctor, an ER physician, who states that he is not certain of anything. I'm thinking that if I get brought to a hospital ER, I want a doctor who has some certainty about at least SOME things. Otherwise, what basis does he have for practicing his craft?

And the chaplain here comes so close to actually saying something. She recognizes that in crises, people are looking for certainty. They need absolutes, rules, moral certitude. Because that's the way we were designed, and that we still retain even though sin-scarred and depraved. But rather than accept this truth as a basis for learning that "inclusive spirituality" is bankrupt, she instead flinches and says, "thats not me." The one I feel most pity on in this whole exchange is her.

agonizomai said...

The entertainment industry is not loath to present god in its offerings. Touched by an Angel has been doing it for years. And there have been other efforts, too.

Who they never offer (nor even mention) is Jesus Christ, at whose name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Him to be Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

They hate the Name above all Names and will not lift Him up because He is the exact representation of the One True Living God.

Small "g" gods abound, but the real God is nowhere to be found. It is an occasion for weeping and for pity - and for gratitude that, of the Romans 2:1 people, we who believe have been given true light.

DJP said...

Doulos, great catch. So chaplain should have responded, "Wow — do your patients know that?"

Rhology said...

Brilliant. Thanks.

Janet Rubin said...

Great post. Thanks.

P T Hutch said...

Dan,

That was a great post. When I first saw the episode I thought to myself that it would be a great subject for a blog post. I even toyed with the idea of publishing it on my own blog. Thankfully I did not. You expounded on every thought I had and then some and you skillfully articulated them as well.

beaconlight said...

Great post. I saw this clip the other day and emailed the link to a friend. I noted that while the clip was 'dead on' I somehow doubted the resolution to this plot-line would include a genuine conversion to Christ. Appears I too was 'dead on'. Oh well, the clip used in isolation makes a powerful point against postmodern thinking.

Brandon L.

Even So... said...

The missing atonement

The humanistic hope

The amorphous god

The good thing is, unlike what we cannot change on TV in those moments, when faced with them in our everyday lives, these vague notions leave a clear path to the gospel, if we will but be ready to give an answer for the Living hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15, etc.)...

Stefan said...

To pick up on what Don wrote, it's almost better when the (false) "gospel" is left out of a movie or TV show, since when it's "presented," it's invariably this saccharine sweet, works-based stuff that bears no relation whatsoever to the teachings of Scripture, either the Old Testament or the New Testament.

This is what I learned about "Christianity" from watching TV as an unchurched, atheistic kid: from Hollywood, I learned that Christianity is never discussed in polite company (except vaguely alluded to at Christmas time) and something endured on Sundays while listening to boring, genteel, avuncular, enrobed ministers...while from the likes of Tulsa and Akron, I learned that on Sunday, the "real" (not Hollywood) preachers heal you in exchange for wads of cash.

Oh, and Judaism, the religion of my ancestors, got covered, too. There was an episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Gary Coleman's character wanted to convert to Judaism because he was impressed by all the food at a friend's bar mitzvah.

DJP said...

How inaccurate is that last, though, really, Stefan? The impression I get from listening to Jews themselves is that modern Judaism is primarily and almost solely horizontal.

Rhology said...

Dunno how much Rabbi Boteach represents modern Judaism, but that's nearly all he ever talks about. 'Specially if you listen to his debates with Michael Brown.

DJP said...

Oh... that guy.

Oy!

The Interface said...

Very well done indeed! I don't watch much TV, but the clip clearly and accurately shows the insipid failure of liberal theology and feel-good psychology in the harsh light of reality. Your analysis of the followup is likewise spot on. What a perfect situation for the gospel! May we all have the grace, wisdom, and guts to grab any such opportunities that come our way.

SolaMeanie said...

A couple of comments.

First, how illustrative of what the absence of the Gospel brings about in terms of worldview. Sometimes such Hollywood tales actually show the truth of man's spiritual condition even when that wasn't intended.

Second, sometimes God has the last laugh with Hollywood. If you remember the funeral scene for Spock in "The Wrath of Khan," Spock's casket gets launched into the "Genesis" planet while Mr. Scott is playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. Given the Star Trek series' penchant for calling Christianity and creation a "myth," I found that deliciously ironic.

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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DJP said...

I don't at all doubt that your experience of it is deeper than mine. What keeps coming to my mind — and if I knew more, I'd post on this — is "Ghost town." There used to be life here. Now there are only shabbily preserved ruins. Life moved, it stayed.

Stefan said...

Dan:

Yes, modern Judaism appears to be largely works based and universalistic. There is a prevailing view that most people will go to heaven regardless of personal belief—both Jews and Gentiles, and both religious and secular Jews—based on the good deeds they do. (Hmmm, maybe this explains Hollywood theology....)

Apart from not seeing Jesus as the fulfilment of messianic promises in the Prophets and elsewhere, the concepts of basic human sinfulness and divine grace in the face of it (as perhaps best exemplified in Psalm 51) appear to be foreign to the modern religion.

And there appears to be very little relationship between rabbinic Judaism today and the Judaism of the Old Testament. Not only because the entire sacrificial system was abolished with the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 (and as Christians, we would argue through the atoning death and resurrection of Christ), but because the codified oral traditions (the Talmud, etc.) add heaps of stuff to Scripture: a trend that was already developing among the Pharisees of Jesus' time, as attested to many times throughout the Gospels.

For a good, even-handed examination of some of the theological differences between Christianity and modern Judaism—and their origins in Old Testament Judaism—I would refer readers to The Christian and the Pharisee, a collection of letters between R.T. Kendall and Rabbi David Rosen. Their friendly but honest and non-relativistic dialogue is, by the way, an excellent example of how to engage non-Christians with a biblical presentation of the Gospel in an uncompromising but gracious way.

DJP said...

Stefan, I swear -- I'm going to disable your deletion privileges!

Stefan said...

Sorry, Dan:

I deleted and consolidated my comments. Was your comment in reply to mine?

Do you know what I heard in the sermon that saved me? It was an exegesis on Romans 11:16-24, and the verse that saved me was verse 23 ("For even they, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again").

But what moved me even more was when the pastor was exegeting on verse 23, he read from Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. I started thinking of my mother and grandmother, who had abandoned all belief in God, even the Jewish conception of Him. When the pastor read God saying that he would give those bones flesh and breathe life into them, I felt as if God were speaking directly to me.

It took a while to percolate, but 11 days later, I surrendered to Christ and was saved.

Stefan said...

Sorry again, Dan, for the mix-up, but your last comment there on "Ghost town" rang incredibly true for me. Totally Ezekiel 37 territory...with tumbleweed blowing past, for visual effect.

DJP said...

Remarkable; thanks for sharing that.

Kevin said...

I work for a large system of hospitals, clinics, and other services including end-of-life care. This post reminds me of a presentation I saw about an institute that's part of our flagship hospital that specializes in alternative medicine/therapy like yoga, acupuncture, meditation, etc. A leader of this institute was talking about how effective this sort of therapy has been shown to be in reducing stress related to end-of-life. All I could think of was that reducing the stress and fear related to impending death is the worst thing you could do for someone who is unsaved.

Stefan said...

Dan:

I'm already picturing the graphic for your "Ghost Town" post: an abandoned, windswept western town, with tumbleweed and a buffalo skull. The Messiah—the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King—came and left to come again, and most of those whom He came to missed the stagecoach.

But thank the Lord that in His providence and sovereign decree, Peter and Jesus' other disciples, Paul, Simon, the three Marys, Martha, James, Jude, Mark, and many other believing Jews were given ears to hear and receive the Gospel.

Stefan said...

...And pass it on to us in the modern day, both Jew and Gentile, so that we too could hear and receive the Gospel, and by God's grace be born again, to become the spiritual heirs of Abraham.

Michelle said...

The wisdom of God is foolishness to those who are perishing. Any inclusion of the true gospel would have been an embrace of foolishness to the (presumably perishing) writers, and everyone knows they're smarter than that ;)

Thankfully our awesome God is willing and able to seek and to save those who are lost without the help of Hollywood. Now there's an understatement.

Michelle said...

... come to think of it, He is able to do it without the help of wishy-washy hospital chaplains who know nothing of absolute truth too. But He has chosen to use those who are in Christ to bring the gospel to others. Now that's sobering, 'cause that's us.

Bill Cook said...

This is going back a ways, but this discussion reminded me of a scene from the movie "Rudy," where a priest tells Sean Astin's character that in all his years in seminary and the priesthood, he learned only two indisputable truths:

1. There is a God.
2. I'm not him.

...and I've always thought: if that's the extent of absolute truth that you learned in seminary - even in a Catholic seminary - why the heck would you put on a clerical collar and pretend like you know something?

Hollywood doesn't 'get it,' but the truth is, I think they're just reflecting the prevailing spirituality of the 'I'm OK, You're OK' humanistic culture we're in. (Well, the 'I'm OK, You're OK, unless you believe in absolute truth, in which case you're intolerant' culture...)

ReformedMommy said...

I found this episode fascinating because (shameful confession alert) as a current viewer/former fan of ER for almost 15 years, it is completely the opposite of their philosophy re: all things Christian in recent years. They've gone from such relatively mild concepts as opening sequences where four separate couples are waking up together, none of whom are married and one of whom are the same sex, to a pregnant girl whose parents are Christians and thus paragons of evil for wanting to keep the baby, to (my favorite) the episode entitled "Just As I Am" where the lesbian doctor finds her birth mother, who has since become a Christian. The mother tells her pretty straight that she can't accept her lifestyle but still wants to love her as the daughter she lost, and the doctor bitterly says something like "that's not love", and walks out to the strains of, yep, "Just As I Am." There was also recently the cheesy stereotypical Bible-thumping med student who talked about saving herself for marriage until she just up and changed her mind one day.

I know, I know, why on earth did I keep watching??

Well, I found there to be an intersting juxtaposition between the steadily falling ratings as their Christian-bashing became more blatant, while House, with its writing that demonstrated both palpable respect for Christian thinking and also exposes the crazy non-logic of secularists, became more and more popular. (The one where He help saved the life of both a mother and pre-born child, who he starts off calling a fetus, and ends calling a baby, was particularly good) Not that I'm wholeheartedly recommending House either - some of the comments he makes about women might make our friend Mark D. blush - but it's an interesting turn that ER's taking nonetheless.

R. D. Bailey said...

First of all, the Christianity they come in contact with in their world is the one that is portrayed on the "religious" networks. You have to remember, the only life they have is in the world of make believe.

Second, to me it is much worse when said "religious" programming claims to tell people the truth. I would rather have ER get it wrong than TBN.

DJP said...

Yep; House, MD, is a real mixed bag. He's a horrible human being and says horrible things — but he's depicted as wretched and miserable for it. The people who come through are a real kaleidoscope. And he doesn't always get the last word; sometimes he gets his mouth shut for him. Quite an interesting show.

CalvDispy said...

The closest I have seen Hollywood portray a genuine Christian is the character of Stonewall Jackson in "Gods and Generals." Although the message of the gospel was absent, the Calvinist worldview of Jackson was fairly dipicted in a generally positive light. What was especially poignant was the relationship depicted between Jackson and his wife. A deep love was expressed between the two that was based almost solely on their relationship to God. Other wonderful scenes in the movie included his grieving over the death of a little girl he befriended and the time of prayer he shared with the black cook that served in his regiment.

S.J. Walker said...

Hey Dan,

We just got back from the True Church Conference in AL. (Very very good BTW, get the CDs)
The last day we were there my family and I and a few others shared lunch with Paul Washer and some of the missionaries with Heartcry. Among many things ranging from missions, deer hunting, a fellow hatred for cats and bad jokes about snow men smelling carots, Bro. Paul mentioned someone had sent this clip to him recently. I had seen it (I forget where) before as well. He was quite surprised, as I think most here were too, at the accuracy of the depiction of the new age uncertainty. The reaction was very similar to what I am seeing here.

Interesting, even pretty good, but sad in the expectable lack of further sollution and accurate depiction of Christianity. But I do find some small measure of hope in the fact that there is a writer for that show that can, at least for the shallow sake of drama, show post-modernism's weak and helpless/hopeless state at least to some degree.

I was convicted by the clip, and the various responses I have seen to it. Hollyweird aside, it make so clear--so "certain"--what we as Christians have been given and are expected to do.




A Lion Has Roared!

reformedlawless said...

Dan

Thank you for the post. I have this clip on my blog as well and I apprecite you filling the holes around it.

Bill

Libbie said...

um, just checking.. Phil isn't in the UK is he? Only we had a 5.2 earthquake last night, and I'm investigating all possible factors...

Puritan said...

S.J. I'll be getting the True Church conference CD's.

Thanks for filling in the blanks Dan.

David Castor said...

It seems like Hollywood is a bit of a hiding to nothing here. Create a Christian character that isn't nasty enough and you'll have Calvinists baying for blood because the character was "too liberal". Create a Christian character who is nasty, and the same Calvinists will be spewing vitriol about being demonised and caricatured. It kind of reminds me of the situation in which a person listens to a recording of their own voice and says "That can't be me!" There's nothing quite so confronting as looking into a mirror.

I'd be really interested in knowing whether there are any people out there who can point to a Christian they perceive as being properly represented from secular literature. It seems to me at the moment people are demanding a "square-circle" and are angry when they aren't produced with one.

donsands said...

"Only we had a 5.2 earthquake last night,"

Is 5.2 bad? I never heard of England having an earthquake before. Is it rare?

Daryl said...

A lot of commenters seem to be suggesting that it's Christians fault that Hollywood writes Christian characters in the way that they do.
I seriously doubt that Hollywood (any virtually any other non-Christian entertainment venue) doesn't portray Christians accurately simply because they've never come in contact with a real Christian, and instead have only ever met the equivalent of their caricatures in person.

What other belief does the world have a vested interest in maligning? What other belief does the Evil-One himself give a rip about?

There are none.
We should never be surprised when Christianity is portrayed in the way that "ER" always does it. Didn't Jesus say that would happen?

Dan is right, be thankful when Hollywood at least gets the question right. But never, ever expect them to get even close with the answer to the question.

That's our job.

DJP said...

Once again we find ourselves trying to make sense of a David Castor rantlet. Let's try to follow this out:

1. We all get a sneer because we have made an inaccurate accusation against Hollywood

2. But even if it were accurate, it wouldn't matter; we're still horrid people anyway, and could never be pleased (i.e. we're even worse than Hollywood wants to think?)

3. Then David gives us a homework assignment — and of course we're all very motivated by points 1 and 2 to believe David will welcome our work warmly, and find it transformative.

I do agree with David's implication that personal issues are involved here in the meta.

I just don't think that it's our readers whose personal issues are on display.

stratagem said...

Am masterpiece, Dan. One of your best ever.

I wonder if Brian McLaren wants a part-time job as a TV chaplain? Then he could say his famous "clarity is greatly over-rated" quip while on a high-clarity HDTV. Get the irony?

Benjamin Nitu said...

Dan

I wonder what's worst: being ignored? or being make fun of?

Hollywood used to mock us ... but it seems that now it's easier for them to just ignore us.
It's a sign of our days: in a post modern world, any mention of objective truth is ignored and discredited beforehand.

Benjamin Nitu said...

This Chesterton quote from Orthodoxy just cracks me up, and I think it's very relevant to our discussion:

"We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."

DJP said...

Good question, Benjamin; no instant answer here. I'd rather someone be angry than indifferent. I know there've been a number of times when people saying "Nice sermon" has rocked me back on my heels. (They should have been mad, not pleased or untouched. Did I screw up?)

jeff said...

God help me to live my life in a way that is honoring to God and my Saviour Jesus Christ. That blasphemous drivle that comes out of Hollywood is wicked and mixes truth with lies. I pray that God will open peoples eyes to the truth. It's very disturbing, the stuff I see on t.v. I work 3rd shift at a nursing home and I go in and out of residents rooms and I am aghast at what I see and hear on their televisions.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Dan, your story reminds me of Handel' story. People would cheer and praise him after his "Messiah" and he was upset that people didn't stop to cry and repent.

You probably did not screw up; the "results" of God's word is in His hands.

I totally agree with you: I would rather have people mock me then ignore me.
I would rather talk to an honest atheist than an indifferent agnostic.

Stefan said...

Libbie:

I'll be a monkey's uncle. Let's hope he's back in Southern Calif...Cali...

Hey, wait a minute...so that explains all the wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes, etc. they get down there!

More seriously, has there been any major damage, injury, or loss of life?

Stefan said...

Okay, I wouldn't normally dignify David Castor's comment with a reply, and no good can come of this, but here's an answer to his question #3:

To be totally honest, at a time when I still held a very negative, caricatured view of born again Christians based on my limited interaction with them and the media's negative portrayal of them (we had a born again Christian provincial premiere many years ago who constantly put his foot in his mouth), Ned Flanders on The Simpsons actually made a positive impression on me.

Since Matt Groening seems to be a rather perceptive (and cynical) social critic at a time when I fancied myself to be one too, it struck me that Flanders is one of the very few characters in that show who is portrayed in a largely positive light (as compared to, say, Homer or his drinking buddies, and pretty much everyone else in Springfield). Yes, he seems to fall more into the insipid, evanjellybean camp than anywhere else; but even so....

DJP said...

If this unleashes a trollsplosion, Stefan, I'm putting it on you.

Bill said...

You lost me at 'seen on ER last night...'

Sorry to be late for the party but is it really worth debating what Hollywood thinks about the Gospel message?

I have to say [while trying not to sound too legalistic] that it bothers me that so many Christians waste their time watching shows like this on TV. I have come to expect NOTHING BUT garbage on primetime television. Why should this surprise us? I know that its easy to pick holes in Hollywood's theology but really, I EXPECT them to have bad doctrine.

DJP said...

If you ever read the post and comments through, Bill, let us know what you think.

wenxian said...

David Castor,

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason why we are "baying for blood" (your term) is that Hollywood just can't/didn't portray the truth of a true christian accurately? They either swing too far left or too far right.

Hollywood deals with extremes to produce 'entertainment'. Who wants to see an average Joe on the siver screen? Yet truth is we are mostly average Joes one way or another. Hollywood needs to sensationalise life to sell itself - its just what it is.

ER is not deliberately fictional such that people know its not real. In fact its 'claiming' that it is reflecting true life as much as it can - i.e. ""real life situations"" etc..

So since they claim to be mimicking true life, why can't we "bay for blood" when we are not being portrayed accurately? I seriously doubt it can be classified accurately as 'secular literature'. I would expect that for harry potter et al to be called secular literature - we know for sure there are someparts in harry potter that will never be true, for example magic.

If you can't get the hint, maybe you should try to imagine how Hollywood would portray your life: see if you would be complaining.

Bill said...

dan said:
"If you ever read the post and comments through, Bill, let us know what you think."

Hi brother, actually I did read them through (ok, maybe I did skim through the longer ones though). I have gone over them again and I see that you have indeed been fairly clear on your position.

I was making a general statement based on my observations - which extend outside this blog sometimes. I should have made that more clear.

Basically, my point was that I really don't expect anything different from most TV shows than what they present us with - garbage. That's why I do not waste my time watching them.

To try and deliver an accurate Gospel message in an episode of ER is akin to being served a nice, juicy steak on a stinky garbage lid.

Thanks for the feedback though.
Bill

Stefan said...

Well, let's look on the bright side. There might be at least one lost sheep out there who saw that episode of ER as part of their regular TV diet, and thought to themselves, "Yes, how do I get forgiveness for my sins?"

The doctor didn't provide the right answer, but then in the real world, we wouldn't expect a non-believing doctor to be able to provide the right answer, either, even if he (or she) were the best neurosurgeon in the world.

It might have got someone thinking.

Bill said...

stephan,
Yes, that's quite possible. God is sovereign and even uses the evil in this world to accomplish His purpose. He has, however, given us a clear message to preach as believers. Sad to say, there are so many who choose to encapsulate the Gospel message inside a worldy burrito inside of just serving it up plain.
God bless.
Bill