Monday, January 09, 2006

Controversy: NBC's "The Book of Daniel"

I've not done a great deal of "social commentary" here, but that's about to change. Last week, NBC premiered a new TV show, "The Book of Daniel."

No, it doesn't deal with the great Hebrew prophet by that name. No, the show doesn't seek to answer questions regarding Bible prophecy. It is a "drama/comedy" that deals with the life of an Episcopal priest and his dysfunctional family, and his personal "talks" with "Jesus."

Most Christian's opposed the airing of this series because of the way it portrayed Christians. Okay, I can see why that's an objection. Every member of this priests TV family are dysfunctional. Not just dysfunctional -- screwed up! Now, I've known screwed up families before. The reality is, Christian families can be -- and sometimes ARE -- dysfunctional. In some cases, they ARE really screwed up. In my experience, however, all families have problems, but few unchurched families are as insane as NBC's family, much less Christian families. What really bothers me about this aspect of "The Book of Daniel" is the not so subtle insinuation that this family is as it is because they are "Christians." Do they say that? no, not directly. But that idea is implicitly set forth. Still and yet, is that why I think this series is problematic? No...

The biggest difficulty I have with the series is the way it portrays Jesus. Don't get me wrong -- the fact that Jesus (in the series) has a biting wit and can be sarcastic isn't bad. In fact, I LOVE that! I often tell people (tongue-in-cheek, of course) that my two spiritual gifts are sarcasm and facetiousness. Clearly in the Gospels Jesus IS sarcastic at times -- contrary to what many good evangelicals might say.

The irritation I have, is the way "Jesus" so easily dismisses what the Bible clearly said. One instant I recall is when this priest quotes a Bible verse verbatim from the Gospels. "Jesus" then scoffs and shaking his head, says, "where do you people get this stuff?"

That troubles me. He got it from the Bible, from the words of Jesus Himself. To portray "Jesus" as questioning -- or denying -- the very Word upon which faith in Him is based may be funny, but it's dangerous. Funny I get, but that borders on blasphemy.

In short, I don't particularly object to Christians being portrayed as troubled people -- they are -- though not to the over-the-top extremes "The Book of Daniel" indicates. I don't mind a Saviour who is portrayed as having a quick wit and a sarcastic disposition at times -- He was, and IS. What I DO find unacceptable is that this "Jesus" isn't true to His own words, His own virtues and characteristics. Contradicting the Bible in its description of Christ is an attack not only on the Word, but on the One who gave us that Word.

I won't be watching this series. I'll tell NBC and my local affiliate that I won't watch -- and I might just discontinue viewing NBC as a whole. That's my choice. NBC and Hollywood may choose to keep on running this series and other such junk. That's their choice. I don't have to agree or to like it -- not yet anyway. But, in the end, Hollywood will run out of money before I run out of convictions.

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