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Hiding Behind Jesus

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To See Ourselves As Others See Us


By James Donahue

January 2006


It is said that the poet Robert Burns was inspired to write his famous ode To A Louse while watching an insect crawl across a lady’s bonnet in church. From that poem came the familiar line: “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us!”


We find ironic comedy in the objections raised by conservative Christians across the U.S. this winter to a new television drama, The Book of Daniel. The story line depicts the life of an Episcopalian minister named Daniel Webster whose addiction to a painkiller gives him hallucinations of personal contacts with Jesus.


The story line goes downhill from there. The reverend’s wife likes her midday martinis, their teenage daughter is caught selling marijuana, their son is out to have sex with his girlfriend, and an older son is a gay Republican.


In spite of the story’s cross-sectional depiction of a real American family in contemporary society, the Christians are raising some hell. The American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi, is campaigning to stop the NBC series claiming it offers “a disrespectful and offensive portrayal of Christianity.”


The protests are so strong that NBC affiliates in Terre Haute, Indiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Beaumont, Texas; and Meridian, Mississippi, refused to air the series premiere Friday.


Ed Vitagliano, spokesman for the association, said about 500,000 people have used the organization’s website to e-mail NBC to protest the show.


Our own response to the show also is negative, but for very different reasons. As Luciferians, we resent the new emphasis placed on the Christian agenda in television programming, documentaries and even news features in recent months. We see the impact of a far right wing Christian government leadership that is reaching its tentacles into every aspect of American life.


That a television writer would dream up such a show, and select the name it has, only epitomizes the slant that is being put on Christianity in new programming. That the show depicts life as it really is, even in the home of a Christian minister, makes the impact of the presentation no less painful to us.


What we find somewhat amusing, however, is that the pompous Christian conservatives, ever afraid to be seen as they really are, would protest such a depiction this loudly.


In our earlier years, when my wife and I were on the Christian road, we got to know families and even fundamental ministers and their teenage children well enough to know that life is really like this for them. I recall one minister resigning his post in the church because he discovered his unwed teenage daughter was pregnant. In yet another case, the church we attended suddenly lost its pastor when the man ran off with one of the women in the church, leaving his wife and kids behind.


Life is life, even for the fundamental Christians. And we all must learn to cope with it. Hiding it under a rug and pretending that we are above being human, lusting for sex and narcotics, and being human because we have an invisible Jesus by our side, is not going to make us any better.

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