17 febbraio 2006

Trading Moms is not authentic

Most television shows and movies have no idea about Christians or Christianity. With the exception of Christian-themed movies made by Christians, the rest usually mess up the details. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was a prime example. "Freakshow" spoke like a fundamentalist Protestant ("Do you guys know Jeeeesus??"), yet he had a gigantic image of the Catholic Divine Mercy image in his home. On an episode of Arrested Development, the married and clearly Evangelical preacher had to attend "Mass" on Sunday morning. In truth, Fundamentalist Protestants (those who know their doctrines) consider the Mass an act of blasphemy and/or idolatry. Yet the writers of these movies and TV shows are completely ignorant of this, and it shows. They'll take the salient parts of different denominations, and mix them together into something any Christian can spot as a fake. Especially when it comes to Catholicism and Protestantism, which in many areas are like oil and water.

On FOX's Trading Moms, there is one episode when an almost violently fanatic Christian woman lives with a pagan or polytheistic or New Age family for a week. Great plot! Of course the tension will be palpable, according to the secular world's perception of Christians: intolerant, uneducated bigots! When one of them gets in with an open-minded, "progressive" New Age family, the sparks will fly and the ratings will soar! (That's why they're rebroadcasting it tonight).

Anyway, in watching this, I found a few inconsistencies.

The woman, Marguerite, is portrayed as a fundamentalist Protestant, the sort of Christian practically despised by the left of this country. The way she talks, "rebuking" people in Jesus' name, and equating stars and gargoyle statues and science with the "dark side," is the typical media stereotype of the fundamentalist Christian.

But she also says and does some very Catholic things. For instance, when she gets off the plane, she says she was "praying to Mary, Jesus, and Joseph" about a safe flight. Hmmm.... I know a lot of Catholics who would say "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" in that order, and in that order only. I've never heard a Catholic say it the other way (with Mary first), and Protestants WOULDN'T say that, as with the exception of a very small pocket of Anglicans, they do not believe in praying to saints! In fact, it is extremely antithetical to Protestant beliefs, as Protestant theology considers prayer an act of worship (hence the Hail Mary would be 'praying to a false god')! So what is the deal?

I saw a girl in the Christian woman's family cross herself with her left hand before dinner prayers. They she said the typical Catholic prayer "Bless us, O Lord, and these they gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord, Amen." But the problem is, Catholics do not cross themselves with their left hand. The Orthodox do. Catholics use the right hand. And Orthodox have different dinner prayers....Hmmmm...

If it is a Catholic or Orthodox home, where is the art? Where are the crucifixes? Where are the statues of St. Joseph, of the Virgin Mary, or of St. Francis on the front lawn? Nowhere. If this family is so "devout," it would be extremely rare to not see some sort of religious art in their home. Yet in a Protestant home it would not be a big deal, as some of them even refuse to depict Christ, and they would never have pictures of saints.

Marguerite uses a completely Protestant vocabulary. "I'm a God warrior!" She 'rebukes' people. She calls science and psychology "dark sided." Catholics simply do not speak like that. That is an ultra-fundamentalist Protestant choice of words. Would a Catholic woman be so disturbed by gargoyle statues? Especially when Catholic cathedrals have gargoyles all over them???

When Marguerite goes on the radio show, it's hard to believe it wasn't scripted. The calls do not sound natural at all. Someone calls, doesn't even say "Hey," or "long time listener, first time caller!" - none of the smalltalk or banter. The second caller asks about how his girlfriend wants to physically "go to the next level" with him but his religious beliefs are against that. How convenient for this TV show! And Marguerite, like a good Christian, encourages him to pray and not have premarital sex... but then indirectly advocates masturbation! No devout Catholic or Orthodox would promote that, nor would a fundamentalist Protestant. Then the homosexual psychic, by the New Agey name of "Tristan Rumbo" comes on, and the close-minded, bigoted, Christian woman insults him and refuses to talk to him. Wow..

Then, Marguerite convinces the New Age family to take her to church. Apparently there is only a Catholic church in the neighborhood. The woman is a bit disappointed that the church they went to was Catholic, but at least it was Christian. So we are to take it she is not Catholic... what is she?

When the New Age woman meets Marguerite's friends, there is some tension in the air. One of the women remarks, in those added in retrospective voice-overs/interviews, that "she isn't a Christian, and I hope one day she gets saved." "Gets saved?" That is strictly Protestant terminology. Neither Catholic nor Orthodox Christians talk about whether people are "saved" or not. They don't talk about how Joe or Jane needs to "get saved." It is a lexical item that only Protestants have.

This woman has no denomination. I do not think she was even Christian. That sort of oil and water mixing is not found in Christendom. She spoke like a most fundamentalist of Protestants, yet many of the salient details were clearly Catholic. Why the Catholic details? Because Catholicism is the largest religion in the world, certainly in the West. Hence, it is more recognizable. On TV shows, when they show a religious leader, he usually is an old man with a Roman collar. Why? Because everyone recognizes the Roman collar. Why the Protestant vocabulary? Because when people see a televangelist on TV they hear him say "get saved" and "rebuke the dark side" and talk down on evolution and sometimes science in general.

In the spectrum of Christian thought, the more fundamentalist Protestant one is, the less Catholic they are, and vice versa. This show is a complete sham, with stereotypes of Christian groups mixed together to make them look like idiotic, hateful bigots. Two thumbs down to Fox.

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