I was recently struck by the abundance of books declaring “The Gospel According to…” Apparently, the gospel has been told by Peanuts, The Simpsons, Disney, Tolkien, Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, and Tony Soprano, to name a few.
I believe television, film, books, comics, etc. are all high forms of art. I appreciate any attempt to discuss possible themes and/or artistic visions of the creator(s). Somehow I don’t believe that explains this glut of “Gospel According To…” books. Call me a cynic, but I suspect it has more to do with the Christian desire to claim everything for us so we don’t have to feel guilty watching this.
How many people were initially scared to tell their church friends they were fans of The Simpsons, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, or NPR? We are always afraid of being judged as worldly sinners whose minds were being brainwashed by the liberal media intent on stealing our money and killing our children. If we can pull out a book declaring the Simpsons are a Christian family because they pray, then we’re in the clear. No hell for me, baby.
With that in mind, I want someone to write a book called, The Gospel According to the O.C. I know it’s a trashy show that doesn’t even approach the label of art, but it’s so damn addictive. It’s my new guilty pleasure. I’ve even come up with an outline for all you writers out there. I just ask for a cut of the profits.
Chapter 1: The Cultural Church as Represented in Orange County
The characters on the O.C. are a bunch of narcissistic, spoiled rich kids from the suburbs. Sounds like a mega church to me.
Chapter 2: Ryan Atwood and Spiritual Adoption
No matter how screwed up we are, God still invites us into his dysfunctional church family just like the Cohen’s invited troubled youth, Ryan, to join their dysfunctional suburban paradise.
Chapter 3: Seek and You Shall Find – The Give and Take of Our Relationship With God as Represented by the Relationship of Seth and Summer
Seth wants Summer, but he doesn’t know how to get her. He reaches out to her, and she comes. Everyone else in the world knows that Seth will never be loved like he is by Summer. Despite this, he continues to push her away. In the same way, no one will ever love us like God loves us. Despite this, we still constantly push Him away.
Chapter 4: Sandy Cohen – God Does Not Forsake Us
His father-in-law’s a drunken thief; his wife never appreciates him; his kids get in fights with the water polo team; and they all come to Sandy when they need help. In the same way, we often ignore God until our troubles are beyond our control. At this point we reach out to God, who never lets us down.
Chapter 5: Marissa Cooper – Spiritual Warfare or Mental Illness?
She throws furniture in swimming pools, drinks like an unemployed Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day, sleeps with the yard guy, and spends time in a mental hospital. The church has spent years inappropriately labeling mental illness as spiritual warfare. Why stop now?
Chapter 6: Luke Ward – Sin Has Consequences
He slept with his ex-girlfriend’s mother. I hope it was fun while it lasted, because he nearly died in a car accident. In the same way, promiscuous sex and rampant drug use may be fun in youth group, but eventually, God will punish you in a fit of melodramatic rage.
The rest of the book can fill itself in. Someone should really consider writing this thing. I would volunteer, but I’m too busy on my new project: The Spiritual Journey of Clay Aiken.