1.10.2006

'book of daniel' continued

(Sorry. I meant to post this two days ago, but accidentally saved it as a draft!)

Since the ultrarev asks (and because I can't resist sharing my opinion anyway), I thought I'd write a brief thought or two on last week's double-episode pilot of NBC's The Book of Daniel. Dinger wrote her thoughts on her blog, and they are worth the read. I don't see things exactly as she does (she and I have discussed this outside of the blogworld) but I can see what she's saying. I'd just rather give the show a few weeks to see if the issues she has resolve themselves. If they do not, she's dead on. If Jesus doesn't "make a difference" in the lives of the characters, it ain't Jesus we're dealing with here.

Right off the bat, I loved the show. I see tremendous potential. I think Daniel as a character is lovable and understandable and sincere. I think his family and church problems, while way more than any one person should have to deal with, do set the stage for some meaningful and humorous drama in the weeks to come. I think the character of Jesus is warm, funny and I'm glad he's there, rather than not. I got the impression from many of the protestors that they didn't want Jesus anywhere near the sin and degradation going on in Daniel's world. I couldn't disagree more. That's exactly were I want Jesus. Furthermore, I think that is exactly where Jesus would be.

There were some deep and tender moments, fused with the ambiguity of life's crises, like when Daniel's father (the Bishop) longs to relate lovingly to his wife who has Alzheimers. When we see the pain caused by her disease and the agony the Bishop must feel, we feel for him later when we discover he is having an adulterous affair.

I love the fact that Jesus says he tries to talk to all of us, but some of us stopped listening, or never did. I love that Jesus is present and silently standing by Daniel when he has just been with a dying person. I love that Jesus doesn't answer all of Daniel's questions with easy answers (sometimes there is no answer at all, only the promise that he will be with him, whatever comes). I love the humor of the show, even when it occasionally offends.

Did I love it all 100%? No. Call me old-fashioned, but when Daniel accidentally ends up convincing a couple living together that they do not need to get married (and brushes off any thought that they are living in sin) and Jesus only gives him the thumbs up, well, I would like to have heard and seen more comment by Jesus. Was his thumbs up sincere or was he being a bit sarcastic? It was hard to tell. But that may be expecting too much from a television show.

I will continue to give the show a chance until they give me no reason to continue. I suggest others do as well.

1.05.2006

the book of daniel (here we go again)

I woke up this morning to two dj's on the radio discussing the "controversial" television series which begins tomorrow evening on NBC, The Book of Daniel. Daniel, in the series, is an Episcopal priest who gets the unprecedented opportunity to discuss life and crises one on one with Jesus. The key word being discuss. Jesus answers back.

The announcers said that the show was already being criticized by the American Family Association as mocking Christianity. I almost used the AFA's protest link to send an email SUPPORTING the show, but decided that I didn't want to accidentally add my name to some petition seeking to have it pulled. In the end I sent the following email to NBC Chairman Bob Wright:
Dear Chairman Wright,

I am writing you this email to ENCOURAGE YOU to go ahead and air "The Book of Daniel" as planned. I got wind of the protest by the American Family Association and I am disturbed that they are seeking to keep the show off the air when they haven't even seen it yet. I am also disturbed that the AFA and others find the idea that priests and pastors and devout followers of Jesus struggle with life to be such a difficult concept to grasp. I am a pastor of a church in the Cleveland, Ohio area and I can tell you that we struggle. We all do. And we don't all have the perfect idea of a "the American Family" (at least as the AFA seems to picture it). In the end we depend on the Grace of a Loving God to pull us through. I wish that we all could discuss life with Jesus and expect an answer. As far as I'm concerned God may even use your show to teach its audience a thing or two.

I have no idea if I will even like the show at all, really. I haven't seen it either. But I will watch and give it a shot. I think the concept is an intriguing one and daring and I thank you in advance for giving it a chance.

I also have no idea if you will even see this email, but I had to give it a shot.

Peace,
Stacey Littlefield

Why do Evangelicals (if that is what they are) think that it is our job to be against something like this? I mean, did anyone every protest Desperate Housewives, for crying out loud? No, I don't think they should have. But let's at least give Jesus a chance here, what do ya say?

The main area of concern for the AFA is the fact that the priest deals with a gay son, an adopted son who is sleeping with the daughter of an influential parishioner, a daughter who smokes pot, a wife who drinks too much, a sister-in-law who is a lesbian and bishops who have adulterous affairs. Oh, and he apparently dips into the Vicodin pills to help him cope. And we are concerned that Jesus is being thrown into this situation why?

Okay, maybe it's a bit over the top, but I like the idea of real struggle, controversy and challenge and how Daniel (or Jesus!) deals with it all. I once heard author and former pastor Gayle Erwin (The Jesus Style) say of such controversial portrayals (The Last Temptation of Christ was the big stink at that time), "anytime you throw Jesus into the mix, he wins."