Jesus on TV?
Last Friday Night Last Man Standing opened its third season with a guest appearance by WIllie and Si from Duck Dynasty. While this was stunt casting for certain, that does not mean that it was a pointless moment in American TV. Now, Last Man Standing is no Home Improvement, and Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is no Tim Taylor, but it does have its merits. I have been watching for the last 2 years and have generally enjoyed it (except at times when it gets bogged down with political plotlines). I have also seen a handful of episodes of Duck Dynasty, and while they were not all in my wheelhouse of what I consider entertaining, they do tend to focus on the importance of family values and even their faith in Christ.
This week’s episode of Last Man Standing was a large step forward for broadcast television in one major way. Jesus (not just a general usage of God, but Jesus specifically) was presented in a positive light, as someone who was worth following and listening to. The Bible was presented as more than just a rule book, but as a guide for how to live a meaningful life.
Now, I do have to say that all of this discussion was presented in a moment where Kyle (who is dating one of Mike Baxter’s 3 daughters) is finding himself suffocating under a lot of philosophy double-speak (courteous of his girlfriend’s newfound appreciation for the subject in a local community college). In a moment of complete bleakness, Willie encourages Kyle by asking him what he finds meaning in. Kyle finds meaning in what he learned in Sunday School. Through the discussion Mark 12.31 and Philippians 4.13 are both quoted in a positive light. While I am saddened that these thoughts are attributed to being simply philosophies to live by (not sure how much is the censors at work and how much is the writers), they do encourage Kyle and he even quotes the Philippians passage from memory. Later on in the episode Willie does state that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (possibly censors), but manages to slip in that “God is one God” and “We pray that we love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.”
Now is it perfect? No, but I cannot expect a TV show on a broadcast network to be perfect when it comes to presenting Christianity. But it was an incredibly refreshing evening of television for me that I was highly encouraged to see, and am looking forward to figuring out how I can best utilize it for a teaching moment in the near future.