Today for senior high Sunday School, we watched and discussed one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, "Homer the Heretic."
In the episode, Homer decides to skip church one cold, blustery Sunday monring and ends up having the "greatest day of (his) life." He wins a radio contest, a politcial roundtable discussion is interrupted by a great football game and he makes his patented carmel waffles. Homer then decided he no longer needs to spend an hour a Sunday in church and chooses not to go, thus annoying Marge. God then comes to Homer in a dream and agrees that Homer doesn't need to go to church. Homer then proceeds to aliennate other religious groups in town such as Krusty who is Jewish and Apu who is Hindu. That is, until Homer catches the house on fire while taking a nap and is rescued by Ned, Krusty and Apu (among others). In the end, the show points out that one important aspect of church life is the community and fellowship you have. Basically, the no man is an island thing. Homer agrees to go back to church and proceeds to sleep through the service. And he talks to God again in a dream (which brings up one of the greatest continuity errors ever in an episode--the first time God appears, he has five fingers and later he has four....)
Of the studies we've done in this course on The Simpsons, this is one of the ones that really resonated with me. I love the message of we don't just go to church to be seen or to "please" God....we also go out of a desire to be part of community that is stronger together than apart. As I sit back and think about the episode, I think now of the response to the victims of hurricane Katrina. In a time of crisis, we see our nation rallying together to do what it takes to respond to the victims--from opening homes to sending supplies, money, donations, etc. I don't think any of us lack from a way to give to the relief efforts in the community.
We actually had some good discussion by the youth about this topic. Which I am glad that the study continues to engage not only thier funny bones but also maybe gets them to think about things in a new way. We got into the discussion of what to do when people confront you with views that are different than yours--do you act like Homer or Reverand Lovejoy who mocks Apu in the story or do you respond out of love as Apu, Ned and Krusty do? Also, they asked me--well, how do I know if something is the truth and how do I address that? Which is a good question and one I think will lead into the next unit that may be on what we believe. I think giving them that foundation will help.
Though if it was up to them, I'd whip up a study based on Family Guy. Which don't get me wrong here is one funny show..but no way am I showing it to them as part of Sunday School. The Simpsons has raised enough eyebrows as it is. I'd be taken out and stoned if I even thought about showing Family Guy. Which brought up the inevitable question by this group--and it's one I answer a lot--do I watch the show? My response is what it always is--yes, I do. But I am also an adult and know that while something is funny that doesn't make it right to act the way they do on the show. Also, if I were a teenager, I doubt my parents would let me watch it. And in this case, they should defer to what their parents want and not use me as a justification for watching it. Basically don't say, "Yes, but MIchael said it was OK...."
But it was interesting. A few weeks ago, one of the mothers approached me saying that she doesn't care for The Simpsons as it teaches an attitude of disrespect and she doesn't let her son watch it at home. But she wanted me to know that she allows him to watch it during Sunday School becuase she trusts me and it's the only time recently he's been excited about coming to Sunday School. So, maybe he's getting to do something he can't do at home, but you never know--he might learn something more from it. The mother then went on to say--and I saw this horrible show called Family Guy on and I would NEVER let my son watch it and he knows he shouldn't and he doesn't.
Which in light of what her son told me today--that he watches it at home and at friends' houses and he's got the DVD set that he offered to bring in for us to watch for The Family Guy Bible Study--struck me as funny. His mother is absolutely convinced he's not watching this show and yet he is. And now I wonder something...do I have a responsiblity to tell his mom that he watches it? I'm debating that one in my head. Not quite sure where my wanting to s0meone the guys trust and can talk to about stuff ends and where my responsibility as an adult in friendship to his mother begins.
I think there are no easy answers here....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/04/2005 11:44:00 AM