Last year I started watching Gilmore Girls, which friends claim is their favourite show. They have Gilmore Girls’ Nights, where they indulged in strong coffee and plenty of junk food, with the marathon going into the early hours.
I love to laugh, but I was also driven by a curiosity to see what could possibly be so great about it. So, while Scott read and typed beside me, I crocheted and watched the show.
At first, I was simply awed at how fast the actors needed to talk to get their verbal plethora into one sentence. It was like watching people on speed competing to get in as many witty one-liners as they could without breathing. Anyways, numbness set in, and I became accustomed to the manic jeering. After a few nights of viewing the show, I hardly noticed it.
Well, my marathon took me quickly through the seasons, and before I knew it Season 7 was about to begin. Scott asked me what I thought. “You obviously like it,” he said, “You’ve sped through it like crazy. How’s the writing?”
“Well, it has a lot of obnoxious, non-stop banter, but the characters are funny and likeable. There is enough romantic tension to keep people holding on for seven seasons. But, wow, I have never watched a show that repeatedly mocks Christianity as much as this.”
“Then why are you still watching it?” my 12-year-old, Nicolas, asked me.
I didn’t even know he was there, and now I was caught. Until this point I had convinced myself that I was still watching for scientific reasons, but having a child inquire into your ethical choices has a way of waking you up.
“You’re right, Nicolas,” I responded. “I’m not sure why.”
It's been my observation that people are very emotionally tied to this show. I believe more people will be offended that I question its worth than be interested in why. I’m not trying to tell people what shows to watch, but simply to share an internal struggle.
Almost every episode, a mockery of evangelical Christianity was played out. I kind of laughed uncomfortably, but kept watching. Things like Planned Parenthood posters on the walls didn’t rile me up much, because it’s a pagan show about sex and feminism.
Comments like “she was scarier than a nun” bugged me. I was immediately hurt for the beautiful sisters in my life. But I could still appreciate they were drawing on a generation of people who had heard tales of evil Sister so-and-so teaching first grade and smacking knuckles with a ruler.
“I’m shakier than the Pope” made me gasp. I mean, I loved Pope John Paul II. I really loved him. And to hear that kind of casual mockery about a man that I loved, knowing that the world would have gone mad if they had joked about Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s, unnerved me. I took it as a personal insult, as anyone would when the illness of a loved one is made into comedy by people who scorn him. But still I watched it!
The final blow came at the end of my marathon. A character was writing a column about religion for the college newspaper. She tells of sneaking in to observe a Catholic Mass, and finishes with, “I have a stomachache. I think I got some bad host last night.” I could have thrown up.
Call me a bore, a puritan, whatever. Hypocrite is probably more apt. I know I make compromises and justify my sin to myself. I still think I can recognize what used to be called sacrilege. We’re afraid to say those kinds of words, because maybe we’ll be mocked. We don’t want to be too serious, or to be a fanatic. We want to have a sense of humour. But in the end, our children wonder why some of our entertainment choices contradict the faith we profess. And then they go on to do the same. I was lucky to be called out. And I told my son that.
Christians have the burden of being absolutely surrounded by the vices of the world. We aren’t often looked at as odd anymore because we generally don’t stand out. We fit right in where we aren’t meant to fit in. We can watch whatever shows we want and no scary nuns will smack our knuckles, but maybe the Holy Spirit will whisper in our souls:
true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.