making book on daniel
by J.C Phillips
I received an email petition urging me to contact my local NBC affiliate and ask them not to air their new hour long religious drama, “The Book of Daniel.”
The series, set to begin airing on Jan. 6, depicts the life and family of an Episcopal priest named Daniel Webster. Webster has an alcoholic wife, a 23-year-old homosexual son, a 16-year-old drug-dealing daughter and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter. At the office, Father Webster’s secretary is a lesbian who is sleeping with his sister-in-law. NBC calls the new series “edgy” and “courageous”. Many Christians call it offensive. After viewing the commercials, it is not a program I intend to watch, however, nor am I going to write my local NBC affiliate. I prefer a different kind of activism.
I think few people object to the portrayal of a religious family dealing with emotional and spiritual trials. What insults is the absolute disdain Hollywood shows for the religious community. There is a sizable Christian audience that is begging the networks for programming that is not only wholesome but that also reflects their sensibilities and values. To that the network executives thumb their nose. They know better than the audience and instead serve-up a priest that pops pills, an alcoholic wife, homosexuality and adultery, drug dealing and all manner of dysfunction sold as NORMAL.
Daniel’s supporters argue that the program’s message is about having compassion and learning to love all people. The arrogance of Hollywood constantly fascinates me. The very people who show contempt for religion at every opportunity now want to preach to Christians about the true meaning of Christianity. Hollywood’s real message is that those claiming to be Christians are hateful hypocrites that do not love all people, proof of which is in our rejection of the normalization of homosexuality and sexual promiscuity.
It is an odd kind of projection Hollywood is engaged in. Hate and intolerance do not come from the Christian right, but from the Hollywood left. It is Hollywood that rebukes complaint by referring to average Americans as religious fanatics, zealots and right wing crazies. It is Hollywood that maligned Mel Gibson for making “The Passion of the Christ.” It is Hollywood that describes offending the sensibilities of a large portion of their audience as courageous and edgy.
What many Christians have done is demand programs like “Daniel” be taken off the air and on this point I disagree. I want Americans to view first hand what Hollywood thinks of them and their faith. After a few episodes of “The Book of Daniel”, I am betting America will continue to use the power of the remote control and abandon network programs in search of something better. The Christian community can offer them something better.
If, as the media is fond of writing, the nation is awash with evangelical Christian influence, why must we beg Hollywood executives to give us anything? If we are convinced their vision is bankrupt, let us challenge it with a vision that is more robust, more vibrant and in the end more profitable. Let us create the wholesome, values rich programming Hollywood refuses to provide and invite the network audience to spend time with us. There is more than enough Christian creative talent, more than enough money to finance projects and there are more than enough cable networks looking to fill programming time with well-written, family friendly entertainment. All we need to do is stop putting our energies toward stifling Hollywood and get to work on offering a better product. That is not only the American way, it is Christian activism at its best. It is also the kind of movement I could really get behind.