The World According to kcillini77

February 11, 2007

Mocking religion

Filed under: Arts — kcillini77 @ 7:52 pm

    This has been on my mind for a while, but I haven’t taken the time to sit down and type it out until today.  The same day my last article was published in the KC Star there was a blurb in the Faith section that stated “Two Fox network shows, ‘The Family Guy’ and ‘House’ consistently mock religion and people of faith, a study by the Parents Television Council says.”  My wife and I have become regular viewers of “House”, a drama about an abrasive doctor (Dr. House), who diagnoses and treats all kinds of mysterious illnesses.  I was somewhat taken aback at the statement, but resolved to pay attention as we watched both new episodes and some old ones we are catching up on via DVD.  I have done that, and I would like to rebut the statement made by the Parents Television Council.

Let me preface my comments by stating that, to be sure, there is content in the show that is certainly worth keeping children away from, and certain episodes require discretion by adults.  So I will allow that an organization for parents is well within its role to caution parents about the show in general.  But stating that it mocks religion and people of faith smacks of hypersensitivity by people who cannot tolerate opposing viewpoints on any issue.  The main character, to be sure, is a self avowed atheist.  He makes all kinds of snide comments about just about anyone who doesn’t believe as he does.  But he is presented as an extremely flawed character – as someone incapable of love or compassion.  Other characters, both patients and other doctors, are presented in neutral or favorable lights as they offer other viewpoints and show caring for people.   Some episodes present a contrast between his character and people who manage to care and love someone as unlovable as Dr. House.  The contrast between Dr. House and “real people” is the show’s crowning achievement.  Most of the time, I can see some of myself in both Dr. House and in the people he is compared to.  This is a very real presentation of the human condition.  We are all deeply flawed people, but (through Christ – here is where I must extrapolate what the show does not present) we are able to overcome our flaws and love.   The statement by the Parents Television Council seems to imply that we should not be a party to a show where disparaging comments are made about our faith.  But we live in a real world, and people disparage our faith every day.  If we turn off a television show when someone makes a comment we don’t agree with, we can feel self-righteous about our decision and think we are doing what Jesus would have done.  However, if we turn away from the people around us who are hostile to our faith, we are being decidedly un-Christlike.  Maybe instead of flipping to a more innocuous program when a question of faith is addressed, we could use the opportunity to think about how we would respond in our workplace to such a situation so that we can be prepared with an answer.

“House” is a show that prompts discussion between my wife and I about varied topics often including our beliefs and how we might better love other people.  I can’t think of more you could ask for in a television show.  It is certainly not mindless entertainment.  I think it is important as consumers of television and movies to make choices that teach us.  “House” does just that, if you will let it.


  1. Welcome back to blogging…we’ve missed you!

    Enough of the sentimental stuff… I’ve never seen House, so I can’t speak to the House-specific comments. But, I agree with what you’re saying in general. We live in the real world with saints and pagans and shouldn’t expect our TV shows to be any different. Maybe we should rejoice that the self-avowed atheist is shown as unloving and intollerant of religion, but religious people are shown positively.

    Comment by tex — February 12, 2007 @ 11:54 am | Reply

  2. Wassup Matt? I agree with you…House is a great show and whenever House “mocks” religion and religious beliefs, it is almost always in the context of him making abrasive, unreasonable arguements that are clearly trying to make himself feel better about his own beliefs.

    Also, one of the other characters in the show, Foreman, in an episode last year, almost died by contracting a disease from a patient. A large portion of the two episodes delt with faith, as his father comes into the picture as a very religious man who tries to get his son to acknowledge that he believes again as he did while he was growing up. At first, Foreman refuses and cannot accept that he believes or that there is a heaven or a hell. But by the end of the two-part episode, in a very emotional scene, Foreman acknowledges and ‘reaffirms’ his faith as he is being put under for a procedure – a procedure he may or may not ever wake up from – while he holds his father’s hand.

    I don’t think that a show that makes a habit of mocking religion would have allow such a powerful pair of episodes end that way with the religious sub-plot, do you?

    Comment by Joshua — February 12, 2007 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

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