I’m a slow adopter of things the new and improved. I’m not sure why I am that way, but that’s certainly how I’m wired up. I stayed with DOS until Windows 95 was phasing out and Windows 98 was in Beta. I tend to drive a car till it has two balding tires in the grave. If Alean would let me, I’d still wear pleated blue jeans – a fashion nightmare, I’m told, but I like them.
I’m that way with television programming as well. I have an affinity for retro programming, and rarely dive into new shows. Years ago, there was such excitement about the series 24, yet I’d never seen a single episode until it was well into Season Five. A friend unwisely loaned me a DVD set of the first season, and I was hooked. I plowed through every season like an addict craving his next fix of “Jack,” so I could vicariously save the world once again. Similarly, until just a few months ago, I’d never seen a single episode of House, despite all the chatter about it, and the fact that it ran on Fox network for eight seasons. Even with such a glaring life-omission, my existence seemed meaningful and complete.
My son, being almost as much of a technogeek as his father, gave me seven seasons of House on a hard drive, digitized HD recordings from someone’s local network station. The picture and sound quality is amazing. My wife and I are slowly working through these House episodes a little at a time as we eat dinner, or as we are in need of unwinding a bit before bed. While it doesn’t have the same addictive effect on me as does Jack Bauer, I can see why people enjoy the series.
For those unfamiliar with House, the program, based on the Holmsian investigative style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a medical drama revolving around six doctors, with three younger characters led by Dr. House as part of the Diagnostic Medicine team at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. The story is an ongoing investigation of the curmudgeonly personality disorders of Dr. House, as he and his team diagnose bizarre and rare medical disorders, and save people’s lives.
Last evening, I was pondering the program’s treatment of faith. The concept of God plays a much larger role in the show than I expected. Dr. Chase, we learn early on, was raised Catholic, and attended seminary before becoming a doctor, and while having a kind heart, little in his life reflects a devotion to that, or any other faith. Dr. Cameron has little use for a god, and fancies herself an atheist, but comes off as more of an agnostic than anything. Dr. Foreman acknowledges a god, but finds faith to be an intrusion into his life and of little value. His parents grieve that he doesn’t pray. Dr. House is not only a hard-core atheist, but he delights in belittling those who embrace faith. He rudely and repeatedly barges into the hospital chapel, using it for his own purposes, even going so far as taking over the chapel as his own office, barking out differential-diagnosis orders from behind the podium at the front of the room. The only time House seems to have had a “religious experience” was when a baby reached from the womb and grabbed his finger during a surgical procedure. He later referred to it as a baby rather than a fetus, and this was considered a shocking admission.
As I thought about these things, I was bothered that no one on the show seemed to be representing Christ with authenticity. They were all such misfits, stumbling their way through life like blind men and women. If the program is going to give a fair treatment of faith, then it should have a character who is a spiritual tower, devoted to his or her faith, comforting the frightened patients who face death in every episode, and advancing the kingdom of Christ at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Having these people represent faith in God is like taking health advice from a dead man.
Or is it?
Perhaps the Misfits of House are more closely aligned with the Heroes of Old than we are comfortable recognizing. Aaron, leader of the priests, mouthpiece and right-hand-man for Moses, created a golden calf for the Israelites to worship and then lied to Moses about how the calf got there. The sons of Jacob, fathers of the tribes of Israel, were so filled with jealousy that they sold their own brother into slavery. Jephthah made an absolutely asinine vow and ended up losing his own daughter to fulfill it. Samson, complete idiot, hot for Delilah, explained to her precisely how he could be subdued…and she obliged him. David, the one whom God himself described as, “a man after my own heart,” knocked up his neighbor’s wife, tried to make her husband think the baby was his own, and murdered the honorable man when the deception failed. Lot, sired his own grandchildren. Noah got sloppy drunk, passed out buck-naked, and ended up cursing his grandson because of it.
Perhaps we need to rethink what it is that finds favor in God’s eyes. Here’s how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message. Luke 14:12-14, “Then [Jesus] turned to the host. ‘The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be – and experience – a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned – oh, how it will be returned! – at the resurrection of God’s people.'”
Victoriously in Christ!