The Church of Good TV

I listened to a few Speaking of Faith podcasts today and was particularly moved by “TV and parables of our time.”

Diane Winston appreciates good television, studies it, and brings many of its creators into her religion and media classes at the University of Southern California. In what some have called a renaissance in television drama, we examine how TV is helping us tell our story and work through great confusions in contemporary life.

Thanks to HBO, we are living in a golden age of television.  There are tons of good shows that are redefining the medium; shows that are “helping us tell our story and work through great confusions.”

One point Winston made was that some of these great dramas are taking on characteristics of church.  People gather once a week, watch and discuss.  To take the point a bit further, these shows are  probably church for most younger folks who have long ago stopped going to a church.

And can you blame them?  Rarely have I encountered a church that “tells our story” and helps us “work through confusions.”  We normally just get simple, canned answers to the confusion of 21st century life and most churches hide from the great controversies of our day.

True Blood might have more to say and say it more powerfully about religion, poverty, love, violence,  sex, culture,  family, racism, than a standard, long winded  and trite sermon.  The opening credits of True Blood are even interesting.  The artists behind the credits wanted to show how  “‘religious fanaticism’ and ‘sexual energy” could corrupt humans and make them animalistic.'”

Or do any churches do a better job than The Wire when it comes to thinking  and telling the story of our decaying urban areas?

When it comes to the bible, senior producer, Mitch Hanley, for Speaking of Faith, writes:

As someone who finds the Bible in desperate need of an editor, I wonder if I would find the biblical stories more compelling if they had spaceships and cool sound effects and thrilling scores. Would I find the messages more relevant? I don’t know.

I don’t think the bible needs an editor but it does need better producers.  The stories of the bible are great stories, we just normally tell them lamely and without art or context.

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