Thursday, October 01, 2009

less successful the "Gospel and..." television shows

I just saw online that Chris Seay, who I used to work with, is writing a new book on how the Gospel interacts with something in popular culture. Taking a cue from the "What Would Jesus Tell (name a famous person- real or fiction from pop culture)" sermon series popularized by Willow Creek Church and numerous seeker churches world-wide or the ubiquitous "God and the Movies" pretty much every church preaches during the dreary summer days to gather attention, Chris has added to his repertoire the ABC series LOST (in the past he has written critically acclaimed books about The Sopranos, The Matrix films and Enron).

When I was preaching regularly I, too, would pick artifacts of popular culture for sermons based on the interactions between that subject and the Bible (or Gospel, in Christian vernacular). Some of my favorites were the television shows The X Files and Millennium, the films Jerry Maguire, Magnolia or Dead Man Walking and musicians like Ben Folds, Pearl Jam and Lauren Hill. Needless to say, besides The X-Files I did not have Chris' propensity to pick up on cultural phenomena, usually picking things regulated to a niche very quickly (or at least a select audience).

My love of the grays and the margins usually leads me to popular culture that does not translate as well to mass audiences (any reader of this blog knows that). Sure, a series on the Gospel According to Coldplay would draw a slightly larger audience than the Gospel According to Frightened Rabbit (okay, no one would be interested in the treatment of Frightened Rabbit), but I don't like Coldplay. And who cares about Jesus and the television show Chuck, one of the better shows on television (but with no cultural resonance for some reason) or Dexter.

Now here is where I am going with this... Chris has picked some things that translate well to his idea (The Sopranos work like a warped Davidic kingdom and the Matrix threw every religious idea in history at us). But, there are many things out there that are probably left outside of the "Gospel and..." treatment (many of which have been preached less successfully in churches). I have seen pastors try to use modern classics like the Scooby Do movies, The Fast and The Furious, GI Joe, Transformers 2 and Night at the Museum 2, stretching the film (sometimes they haven't even seen it) and Gospel to a breaking point.

There are many films that just don't fit, especially some of the stuff I like. And the television shows I love would either not translate to a "Gospel and..." book or 3 people would buy it. Here are my favorites shows. Imagine a book entitled:

The Gospel and Dexter (exploring Dexter's relationship to Deuteronomic and Levitical law)

The Gospel and Chuck (Chuck saving the world as metaphor for evangelism)

The Gospel and 30 Rock (Liz as Moses leading her people to the promised land, Jack as Yahweh, Tracy as Aaron and Kenneth as the 10 Commandments)

The Gospel and The Wire (a 2000 page exploration of conflict between the differing branches within the Davidic Kingdom at the time of Solomon, with McNulty and Omar as competing Jesus figures... or something like that)

The Gospel and Pushing Daisies (about how even God cannot resurrect an under appreciated quirky series on broadcast television that is too smart for its own good)

Sure some shows would be easy, The Gospel and the Office (trivial, but sells well), The Gospel and My Name is Earl (written by an 8th grader) and The Gospel and The Simpsons (D'oh).

Some other less-than-classics could include The Gospel and Mad Men (just wait, it is coming), The Gospel and Weeds (hmmmm, what is this one about?), The Gospel and CSI (We dodged that bullet) and The Gospel and Grey's Anatomy. I am sure someone has written the Gospel and American Idol or Survivor.

So, share with me either 1) the worst "Gospel and..." thing you have ever seen/ heard/ read or (God forbid) done


2) The darkest or worst idea for such a book or series (no "Gospel according to Saw" types- too easy), or that thing that would stretch The Gospel or bible beyond imagination to fit. Justify it if possible.

by the way, I would buy a book called The Gospel According to District 9!


Collin said...

i've been following your blog for a while and didn't realize you had worked with Chris Seay, i've been going to Ecclesia in Houston for a couple years now and had a chance to do a short term internship there this summer.
Cheers, your blog is always entertaining!

Michael said...

The Gospel according to DJword... HA!

Mimi Reid said...

Yay, you're back in the game! I'll be checking the blog more frequently now. Cheers, Mimi

Michael said...

An amazon books search for "The Gospel According To" reveals a surprising number of books.

Most intriguing (to the extent that the genre is interesting at all). The Gospel according to the Coen brothers.

Most in danger of causing Rick to write blog post ... I am guessing "The Gospel According to Starbucks"