Theology and Pop Culture...an experiment  

Posted by Adam in , , , ,



I am embedding an episode from the current season of the television series "House". I know that some of you (Matt Wilson) don't like the show, and some others might be offended by some of the language or content. I went online and watched this episode after my friend Chris Thompson told me about it. One of the things I enjoy about the writing on this show is that they tend to allow complex issues to be complex. This episode deals with faith, worldviews, and even a little philosophy. If you can find the time, watch the episode and then either a) post your reaction/theological reflection as a blog post if you are a Co-Author on this blog, or b) post your reaction/theological reflection in the comment section of this post. I hope some of you find the time to participate because I think it might be interesting. I'll post my thoughts later in the week.
AE

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at Tuesday, March 10, 2009 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

8 comments

#1: The calling out has begun.

#2: The show is growing on me (thats a strange comment since the show is about extreme medical cases). As many shows, I haven't been hooked or home enough to sit down and enjoy it. You can always buy me season one to get me hooked on catching up :)

I'll make a worth while comment later...I just had to get that out in the open :)

mw

March 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Adam,

I can't Hulu from Ukraine and I will be here quite a while. Can you tell me what season and what episode you posted so that I can watch it and join the discussion? I just started watching season one last night. How ironic is that?

March 10, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Kenny,
It's season 5, episode 15: titled "Unfaithful". I hope you can find some way to watch it, b/c I'd like to get your take on it.
AE

March 10, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Kenny,

You can watch on Surfthechannel.com

March 11, 2009 at 12:16 AM

First - thanks to Mark for the link to Surf the Channel. I was able to view the episode there.

Now to the episode - Faithful. The jaded priest was an interesting character, not just for his own struggles but also for the actions and reactions he created in others. Perhaps the saddest thing he said is "It's just a job now. The fairy tale ended a long time ago." I think all "professional Christians" - if there is such a thing - can relate to what he meant. Fred Craddock helped me wrestle with the loss of fairy tales with his notion of second naivety.

It is sad that in our world it is easy to beleive that a priest molested a child. I really appreciated the character who was willing to suspend judgment in that area.

I think the hinge of the show was the discussion of hypocrisy. House defined it as follows - "Do it all, do nothing, or, option C, you are a liar and a hypocrite." I think that is a common - but flawed -definition. Sounds more like perfectionism than hypocrisy. Weakness is not the same thing as hypocrisy.

An underlying assumption - at least to me - is that knowledge is th key to action and salvation. Yet this is also a false assupmtion dating back to Genesis 3. To know does not mean you will do. This is a constant tension in Christianity (as in most of life). Along with knowledge there must be will - and for Christians - more importantly there must also be the transforming grace of Jesus.

It interested me that the priest - in the scene about Aids - refused the test as a strategy to maintain his integrity. I was reminded of Job. It is surely a sign of idolatry when we hold onto our integrity after we let go of God. Yet like Job, this priest was still conversing with/about God.

I liked the priest's challenge to House - "You want to believe, don't you." In typical House fashion he made a joke and left the room. Yet the desire to "help people" is a lot more than just "collateral damage" to solving puzzles - as House put it. It may be a deep need/desire placed in us by our Creator.

Those are just some of the things I thought about in response to watching this episode. What do you think?

March 12, 2009 at 5:33 AM

So...here's my take on it...

1) Kenny is quite right when he points out the moments of disillusionment that come along with ministry. Without question, the greatest challenges to my faith have been neither intellectual or philosophical. My faith has been challenged the most by my observation of the ethics and behavior of some in the church. (I suspect that this also is a barrier to viable faith for those on the outside of Christianity looking in). On the other side of the coin...my faith has also been bolstered beyond belief by the observed Christ-like character, ethics and behavior of some in the church.

2) The conversations between House and the Priest are fascinating to me. They serve to illustrate an existential choice that we make. House wants to believe, but can't entertain the possibility of belief or even admit such a desire because of his presuppositions (a position he briefly questions in order to make the diagnosis...or put another way, because of his experience). The Priest initially doesn't want to believe because of his experience, but is continually drawn back because of his presuppositions. In the end, the House returns to cynicism, and the priest returns to hope. House has "all of the answers" but is generally miserable. The priest admits limitation and is able to believe. House holds to a system that seeks to understand and solve everything, seeing "coincidences" as variables in an equation. The priest sees the same coincidences as signs of something more than the system allows for, and is able to experience wonder and awe.
Overly simplistic? Sure. Deconstructable? Most things are. Even so, it illustrates a choice...an existential choice...niether "side" of which is provable. It is a choice that determines how we see an interpret the world. Given that choice, I choose to hope.

March 16, 2009 at 2:29 PM

good thoughts guys.

One question Adam: can "hope" be clouded by our experience?

I was talking with a friend and a person I just met (a friend of the friend) last night and conversation of spiritual life came up (amazing what comes up when you are watching the World Baseball Classic...) anyway, my friend talked about growing up in a devout Christian enviroment and knowing alot from Biblical teaching and study (obviously you don't know everything but the guy felt that when you go to a school, church, and family that is all a devout enviroment...you feel confident in your knowledge) however has lost the feeling of hope and faith in his belief because of the cloud of church, etc. The other guy grow up in a similar enviroment but now dismisses all but logic. Living out love and know hope is completely clouded in that guys mind because he can't "figure it out".

So I guess the question (if worth discussing) is can our hope be clouded by our experience (church, life, etc) and if so what as a person and a movement (in the context we are discussing) can we do to help people move out of the cloudiness and into a similar line of thought that you were saying: Yes we have a choice...but I choose hope.

mw

March 16, 2009 at 11:49 PM

Matt,
You raise an interesting question. I know several people who have very similar stories to the one you describe. When you hear their stories, you wonder how they could even have hope (or faith) in light of their experience. On the other hand, as Jurgen Moltmann points out, it is only in despair that hope matters...or makes any sense at all (or is even technically "hope" in any true sense). I remember when I came back from a month long mission trip to Ukraine when I was a sophomore in college. I saw the ridiculousness of the American church and became incredibly disillusioned. I made a choice (that honestly could have gone the other way), or maybe better stated an existential decision. I decided to allow for the possibility, just as others existentially choose not to allow for it ("dismissing all but logic"). One choice allows for only the world as it apparently is, and allows for change only within the confines of the apparent. The other decision allows for there to me more to reality that the other choice allows for...where hope springs eternal...and not even death has the final word.
AE

March 17, 2009 at 8:37 AM

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