Exiled from the Underworld

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Would Jesus Watch?

I usually don't keep up with new television shows-- not because I'm a selective, intelligent person (I only wish!), but because I'm pretty busy most evenings and am rarely home when the shows air.

Therefore, I must send along my thanks to Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association for bringing attention to the new NBC series, "The Book of Daniel."


NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- American Family Association Chairman Donald E. Wildmon is claiming another victory, this one against NBC’s mid-season replacement “The Book of Daniel.”

First-- what was replaced mid-season? A show about infertility titled ""Inconceivable."

"Inconceivable" is an ensemble drama in which the doctors of the Family Options Fertility Clinic help desperate couples give birth. The Clinic co-founders are attorney Rachel Lu and Dr. Malcolm Bowers and their staff, including psychologist Lydia Crawford, Nurse Patrice LoCicero, office manager Marissa Jaffee, and attorney Scott Garcia.

I did not watch "Inconceivable" because I was disappointed that Wallace Shawn would not reprise the role of Vizzini.

Back to "Daniel"-- what's wrong with the show? According to an emailed message from the AFA, anti-Christian bigotry. Two bullet-points in the email note:

The program's main characters include Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest; his alcoholic wife; his son, a 23-year-old homosexual Republican; his daughter, a 16-year-old drug dealer; a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter; his lesbian secretary who is sleeping with his sister-in-law; and a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus who talks to the priest.

It is written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who describes himself as being "in Catholic recovery," and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. "I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true," he said.

Funny-- all the characters sound positively Biblical. Kind of like the people with whom Jesus purportedly hung out.

Kind of like The Very Revved Lonnie Latham of South Tulsa (A/K/A "white Tulsa") Baptist Church, currently on administrative leave while his congregation decides what to do with him after his arrest in Oklahoma City. His offense? Soliciting an undercover officer (male) to perform an "act of lewdness" in his hotel room. Latham was caught up in a prostitution sting.
(This story is really getting around! Chant the words "Baptist", "pastor", "lewdness", and "Oklahoma" to bring forth powerful blog magic.)

Although I don't generally care what consenting adults do, I admit to certain...pleasurable sensations ... whenever someone is outed as a hypocrite. Latham got a lot of mileage out of being a Moral Authority, publicly denouncing homosexuality, gambling, and a host of other sins. Greed apparently is off the sin list, by the way. According to one news source, "Latham was arrested and his 2005 Mercedes automobile was impounded, [police Capt. Jeffrey] Becker said."

Latham's defense?

"I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police."

So that's what they're calling it now.

(By the way, the South Tulsa Baptist Church website states, "Since Brother Latham has arrived, the church body has a renewed zeal for reaching people in the heart of South Tulsa." Brother Latham has taken his ministry down the Turner Turnpike where his zeal would like to reach just a little more.)

I just don't see "anti-Christian bigotry" in a show about a minister who actually has to minister to real people. After all, if they were perfect, he'd be out of a job.

Maybe Wildmon means that anti-Christian bigotry exists because of Jack Kenny's personal traits and interests. Wildmon obviously disapproves of Kenny, who, in turn, seems not at all concerned with Wildmon.

Wildmon's center-of-the-universe perspective would not be irrational in a two-year-old, but it is truly weird to have an adult claim that someone who sees the world differently demonstrates bias, let alone bigotry. By that standard, most of the world (both fauna and flora) demonstrates anti-Christian bigotry. In the meantime, someplace, somewhere, someone must be accusing Wildmon of anti-Zoroastrian bigotry, or anti-Confucian bigotry, or anti-Muslim bigotry.

Oh, wait. That one's true. Not because Wildmon is not practicing Islam properly, but because he has publicly denounced Islam and Muslims in general.

In the email message, Wildmon claims that one-half million people are with him in his crusade against NBC. Why? Who knows. Perhaps they've been chained to their chairs and forced to watch hours of re-runs. Maybe they've lost their remotes, maybe their televisions are defective and lack the "OFF" capacity. Maybe their Christian lives are unsatisfactory and empty unless spent in front of the tube.

If Wildmon is consistent, his criteria for claiming anti-Christian bigotry in "Daniel" should mean that ALL television shows demonstrate anti-Christian bias. Shows as sappy as "Touched by an Angel" , or as vitamin-enriched as "Dobie Gillis" (the actor who played Zelda was --like Lonnie Latham--from Tulsa). All have imperfect characters; all are written by real people.

Not flawed, exactly, just human. Like Jesus.