Friday, April 11, 2008

Sopranos and ER - Why the CG Gurus are Wrong

(Did you watch it?)

I spent the last sixth months of my evenings hiding up in our (old) townhouse's attic, smoking cigars and telling myself it was cool because Tony Soprano smoke them too. For all six seasons, Tony and I lit up at the beginning of the episodes, and I became entranced in the human dilemma/condition through the eyes and life of the New Jersey (my backyard!) mafia.

There is a lot I could say about the value of the Sopranos as a commentary on American culture, but I'm gonna relate to you now the one recurring reality which is also summed up in the ER clip above. Time and time again, Carmela (Tony's wife,) or even Tony, or other characters, all of them good Italian Catholics (meaning, they give money and the women go to mass,) were confronted with problems in life, and their priest (a wishy-washy glutton who was living out his lack of a marriage through emotional relations with all his middle aged lonely house-wife parishioners) would show up and say ... ... ... NOTHING.

Don't get me wrong. He'd talk. He just would talk about nothing. Sometimes he'd mention God. But Jesus? Crucifixion? Resurrection? Hope? Or even the (entirely Roman) promises of the power of your works in the mass to guarantee your forgiveness???? Not a wit. A bunch of junk about positive thinking, if that.

How many times was I watching that family, screaming at the TV for a chance to be in their lives and talk to them, to give them answers, to challenge them with real claims??? And here is where the value for Pastors and people really come in:

Even though we don't want to admit it, we really are more like the Sopranos than we are not. We live lies. We hide who we really are, from ourselves, from our families, even from our shrinks (who we genrally pay to help us avoid real confession.) Behind all those smiling faces in the pew, yes, even behind that chummy guy in the pulpit, is the pain, frustration and never-ending struggle of the Soprano family. Broken marriages, rebellious and apathetic kids, young women getting deceived by their new college boyfriends, and more and more. We may not be shooting heroin to kill the pain, but that TV is on a lot more than it should be. We may not be stealing truckloads of plastic coolers, but we aren't exactly tithing to the Church, giving to the poor, or striving (together) to live on less for the sake of those who aren't with us.

And what do we need? What is the answer? It must start with people and pastors who speak the Word. Who face people sick in a bed and cease with the platitudes and half-truths, who don't worry about "pushing away" the dying, but focus instead on saving the living.

"Open my mouth, O Lord, and I will declare your praise."

That's the prayer where it starts. Look it up in your concordance, and pray that psalm every day for a week. Ask the Lord to make you brave of Word, full of belief in the Truth he has spoken, the Gospel for every people and place. And if you're pastor isn't doing his job, be that old man in the video above, and don't let him get away with it. Shame him! For his shame now is nothing compared to what he will receive if he continues giving answers like that poor foolish lady above.


Matthew said...


Can't say much more than that. I haven't seen that episode of ER, I'll have to go and find it.

RevFisk said...

Thanks for the kudos!

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