Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Read Me Like a Book

So, I’m watching the premiere of “The Book of Daniel,” and, ….



You ask, Johnny, YOU watched “The Book of Daniel?”

And I say, “Yep.”

You ask, “Why, pastor of mine, would you watch something like that? Didn’t you hear all the controversy about it before it actually aired? Didn’t you see the news coverage of boycotts of this show from people who never saw it?”

And I say, “Friend, don’t you know me by now? I watched it because all the closed-minded, self-righteous, insecure ‘holy’ folks told me not to.”

Call it holy boldness (my wife would probably say “holy” has nothing to do with it and Jeffords’ stubbornness does), but when these folks get on their religious high horse and tell me what I shouldn’t do, that’s a recipe insuring that I’ll do that very thing.

And to that bunch of folks, on the matter of this TV show, I say this – shut up and lighten up.

Of that show, here’s my review. I’m not going to watch it anymore. Not for religious reasons, I just don’t have life to give to another show (and I’m mourning the long, slow death of one of my favorites, “The West Wing,” – rest in peace, John Spencer). I’m not going to watch it anymore because it’s just not that good.

I dig the concept of the show, mind you. And maybe that’s part of the problem for religious muckitymucks who want this program banished from the planet. By the way, it will be banished from the planet, and soon, but not by Jesus, but by lack of viewers.

From the most liberal to most conservative of clergy families, there is a universal character to our being.

We all have issues.

Trust me. I know this one.

I’ve lived in a clergy family all my life.

Addiction, conflict, discovering and exploring sexual identity, rebelling against authority, making poor choices…this isn’t the next episode of an over-the-top television show, it’s the mirror of any family.

But with clergy, somehow, we can’t abide that reality and rather than deal honestly with it, we’ll do most of our work hiding it for the sake of appearing to have our sh.., uh, stuff, together.

So, on one level, I get it. Granted, some elements of the show are a bit much. The personified Jesus who comes in and out of frame is not sacrilegious, it’s just stupid.

But the clergyman who is charged with tending a flock, while his own family is out of control, and while he’s not sure what to do with his own pain except medicate it….I understand that. I even recognize it to the point of my own discomfort.

That’s not fiction…that happens.

Not so much in the way depicted on the show, but there is a “realness” to that.

Some folks don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.

Some lay folks don’t want to think that their clergy family goes through the same stuff they try to hide, and will often project on to them an impossible standard they cannot keep either.

In seminary, one of the things I heard again and again from one of my favorite teachers, Joretta Marshall, was this – “who will pastor you?”

Who pastors the pastor?

We need Jesus, too, you know.

I suspect that he is real to those of us who need him most through the lives of those who understand just how human we are, and love us, still.

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