Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dizzy over "Daniel"

The American Family Association is condemning--sight unseen, of course--NBC's new midseason series The Book of Daniel, about an Episcopal priest with a screwed up family who happens to have conversations with Jesus. The priest evidently has a problem with pain medication, his wife drinks too much, they have a gay Republican son, and their daughter is selling drugs. Well I think they got everything in there. Oh yeah, and the depiction of Jesus is "unconventional." (He looks pretty "conventional" to me: white guy with shaggy brown hair and a beard. Now if they cast him as a first-century Palestinian Jew, that would be unconventional.)

Once again, though, I don't get AFA's quickness to take offence. After all, this is a show in which Jesus actually appears as a main character. Of course, it will be Jesus in the creator's own image and likeness (oh yeah, did I mention the show's creator is a gay "recovering Catholic" with an interest in Buddhism?), but let's be honest, we all do that to Jesus, from biblical scholars to bloggers--yes, even "fundamentalists." And so what if the creator or writer is gay; Jerry Falwell had a gay sermon writer (Mel White, now head of Soulforce, a group that protests "spiritual violence" again GLBT folk)--though I don't think Jerry knew about it at the beginning.

Unfortunately, I imagine this show will meet the same fate as Nothing Sacred, ABC's aborted show about a young urban Catholic priest, which, not surprisingly, dealt with difficult issues like homosexuality and abortion. (I think NS is probably the better show, if only because it doesn't rely on this silly visions-of-Jesus convention that the new show uses, a la Joan of Arcadia.)

So take a chill pill, and let's see what the show actually looks like. And besides, did you ever wonder if people don't come to church because they can't see themselves in the picture-perfect, moral majority. Maybe we all need a reminder that Jesus came to save sinners (that means all of us), not the "saved" (those convinced they don't need any help). And maybe a show about some flawed people (even a flawed Christian minister!!) trying to struggle through can help us; well, I doubt it can hurt.


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