April 7, 2011


Last night I watched my first ever episode of the hit TV series Glee. I did not set out to do so. Meghan was watching survivor while I was doing some chores. Her show ended, the phone rang and the TV remained on. Once one character made the statement that churches didn't like him, woman or science I knew I needed to keep watching.

Well that and there was another character praying to a Grilled Cheesus.

When I looked up the episode I discovered that this was in fact a rerun. Its original air date was back on October 5 2010. Looks like I am a little slow in responding.

Never the less in one hour the show covered such a diverse number of topics I felt I needed to comment.

To save on the word count you can find a synopsis of the show here.

A few minutes into the show I was ready to be defensive. First we had a person who was supposed to have had a encounter with Jesus, thanks to a sandwich. He seemed like the typical sitcom foolish Christian. Second this was quickly followed up by a person singing 'Only the Good Die Young' by Billy Joel.

It looked like the point of the show was going to be 'having faith is foolish and boring.' 7 minutes in I was already outlining a response in my mind. Then the show took a dramatic turn. A boy's father had a heart attack that put him into a coma. 

The show than showed its true hand. It covered questions like; is prayer effective? Where is God when it hurts? Are science and faith in conflict? What is the highest right; freedom of expression, freedom of religion, or freedom from religion?

What impressed me more was how well they covered everything. You had people of  various faiths acting thoughtfully and thoughtlessly. But you also had Atheists shown in the same manner. Passionate emotional pleas were given by both sides. No one point of view was being trumpeted as normative, putting everything else down in the process.

In the end it was the two main atheist characters that I found most interesting. Once we got behind the anger they showed, and we moved away from the arguments they used to avoid church, Christians and thinking about God, we found people with a story.

One was homosexual. He had been mocked, and ridiculed by those who claimed to be the holders of God's love. He reasoned how could God make him gay, only to have his followers despise him. For him God must not exist. The other, the Cheerleading coach. As a young girl she loved her older sister dearly and looked up to her. However she soon realized that others were making fun of her. Her older sister had down-syndrome. So she prayed for her sister to be healed only to have those prayers unanswered. She concluded her prayers were unanswered because no one was listening.

Their reasons for God's non-existence were all undergirded by a personal experience. No argument could be lobbied successfully against their defenses because it was their experiences that really was the source of their unbelief.

While this would not be universally true, I suspect it is widely true. And it informs us on how to witness. We need to first listen. We need to hear, and respect people's stories. We must understand their reason(s) for unbelief. Unless we do we well have arguments until we are blue in the face only to get no where.

This means we have to do a few things many of us struggle with. We have to establish real relationships with people who do not share our faith. And we have to listen and be open to what they say.We have to be willing to enter into difficult conversations.

In short we have to move off the tract, and into friendship.

The sad thing is, Glee should not have to remind us of this. We should just know. Jesus had an uncanny way of being able to see right into people's hearts. Because he had that inside information he was able to cut through all of their defenses and move right to the heart of the matter. We have to do likewise. The only difference is, for us getting that inside information takes longer.

The real question we have to ask is; are we willing to give someone a few months or years, to positively affect them for eternity?

When This Show Is Less Fearful To Ask  Serious Questions About Faith
Than The Average Christian We Know We Are In Trouble