Monday, January 02, 2006

NBC's The Book of Daniel

Even though a Christian, I fancy myself as a somewhat open-minded individual who doesn't just take other's words for controversial issues that come up in the Christian community. So, when the Pastor of my church gave a brief synopsis of the characters in the new and upcoming television series, "The Book of Daniel," to be broadcast on NBC, without telling us what to say but encouraging us to contact NBC with comments, I didn't jump the gun.

To quote

"In Kenny's "The Book of Daniel," which NBC just picked up for midseason, Aidan Quinn plays Connecticut-bred Daniel Webster. Daniel is a good minister and a good man, but that's not always enough to deal with his life. He's addicted to Vicodin. His wife, Judith, has frozen inside since one of their sons died of leukemia. His son, Peter, is gay. His daughter, Grace, is dealing marijuana to raise extra cash...."

In an article found at, Vince Manze, president and creative director of The NBC Agency is quoted:

""Due to the popularity of such books as 'The Da Vinci Code' and the box office success of such movies as 'The Passion of the Christ,' there's no denying the general public's interest in the supernatural and the spiritual realms.""

From the same article NBC Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly "says (the Book of Daniel) is exemplary of his new watchword in program development – “fresh.”":

"I like that it's slightly provocative," Reilly told Reuters. "We did realize that we're in uncharted waters. ... It certainly stirs people's passions and stirs opinions, and if we do it right, with quality, I think there's millions and millions of people who would say, 'Hey, that's what I've been looking for on television."'

Now, while this statement, made by Ed Vitagliano, director of research for the American Family Association, found at AgapePress news , is true:

""... we certainly recognize that Christians do have problems, and they have problems in their families...""

a statement with which I totally agree, does the Christian community really want a man who describes as one ""in Catholic recovery," (who) is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation, and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus....," himself, to be the voice of Christianity for us?

Yes, NBC, "The Passion of Christ" was a box office smash. Yes, NBC, the Christian community would welcome more broadcasting on a religious theme which explores Christianity and the Christian's daily walk with Christ, but please, would it be too much to ask that the writer of such programs have more in common with the average Christian in America???

Further, quotes Kenny, a homosexual, as saying:

""I pull from my own life, but I don't have a gay agenda. Peter is not me, to use an example. He's a conservative, middle-of-the-road Republican gay man, and that's not me."

Mr. Kenny may not be a "conservative, middle-of-the-road Republican gay man," but I cannot accept that any writer, not just Mr. Kenny, can write a fictional screen play without, however unintentionally, expressing his own views and opinions of Christianity and the gay lifestyle, including its agenda. I believe this program is rightfully viewed by Christians as an attack on their faith, why? Because, here we have an Episcopal Priest who is addicted to prescription pain killers, an Episcopal Priest's wife who drinks daily martinis to medicate her emotional pain, an Episcopal Priest's son who is gay, and Republican, mind you, (not that Republican gays don't exist, they certainly do but why this particular choice for the show, if not politically motivated?) an Episcopal Priest's daughter who sells drugs for extra money...we are to believe that this is a common family among the Episcopal faith? Even if it were a common family description of Episcopal Priest's families it still would not set well with the Christian community in America because such a portrayal will be viewed by citizens who have little exposure to church or Christian beliefs as what it is like to be a Christian. Yes, we do have problems in our lives, but the average Christian looks to Jesus to help them with the sin in their lives, they do not look to prescription pain killers and martinis nor are the majority of Christians gay Republicans or selling marijuana as a source of extra income. How can this program be taken as anything less than an attack on Christianity, an effort to portray them not as the unusual people who God calls on them to be, people in the world but not of the world?

Mr. Kenny will be giving an imaginary, fictional view of Christ in his program, of the Christian God in this program. I do not wish the Christian Godhead to be defined by someone who "isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus," in the first place. Is that portraying the Christian lifestyle " right, with quality," Mr. Reilly? I don't think so.


Mini Me said...

Funny, as I was reading your post a commercial for the show was shown!

I like all the research you did and how methodically you laid it all out, nicely done. I am going to watch the show myself, partly to see if it is actually as bad as they say, partly because I enjoy those kind of 'fly in your face' kind of shows. It may be part of my middle-aged rebellion I seem to be going through :-)

Oh, and welcome back... hope you had a terrific Christmas!

Jacke M. said...

Hi, mini me,

Yes, I did have a nice Christmas, thanks for your good wishes, I hope you did too!

After I wrote this I wished I had written it differently, so I really appreciate your comment.

I think it is one thing for Christians, such as yourself, to watch the show, because you have a Christian foundation to work from. What troubles me are the people who have never stepped foot in a church and know nothing about Christianity. This may be the only representation of Christianity or Jesus that many of them will know.

Gone are the days we used to rest assured that everyone in America had heard the gospel. I don't think that's the case anymore.

You know, one time my husband approached some teens in a parking lot and gave them a penny that had the 10 commandments pressed into it. None of the teens even knew what they were and they read them with great interest. My husband had to explain to them what some of the words meant because they didn't know. That was hard for me to fathom happening in the State of Missouri, it opened my eyes to the fact that there are people, right here at home, who know absolutely nothing about the Bible and God has no part in their lives. A sobering thought, isn't it?

I'm soooo glad you stopped by! I plan to visit your blog again soon!

Mini Me said...

Those are great points - it's amazing how people don't know anything about the Bible. I wasn't even raised in the church and I knew quite a bit before I even became a Christian.

Come on over and say hi at my blog, although I haven't been very good with posting lately. Christmas has thrown me off a bit!

:: jane :: said...

hey, jacke...

i found you through mini me... glad to make your acquaintance.

i only heard about "book of daniel" through headlines on msn. otherwise it would have gone by without me noticing it. kinda harkens back to the "last temptation of christ" event that christians made such headlines about. i wanted to check out "book of daniel" ONLY because it had gotten such a reaction from the christian community. i wouldnt have cared otherwise.

i think it reflects the deepest honesty and the highest humility to say that one "isnt sure exactly how exactly he defines God or Jesus"... isnt that the essence of the Godhead? mystery? i've been a believer for 37 years and i truly love the Lord, but could i accurately define Him, in a way that is complete and inclusive of everything He is? i dont think i can. i dont think mother teresa could. you know?

i wanted to see the show because i like the idea of portraying christians as real people, with real addictions and real issues. i'm ready for a fresh approach to the subject of what it means to follow Jesus. not a new gospel, but a new approach. and i wanted to see how the producers would deal with these issues.

that being said, the show stunk. it was poorly done. the dialogue was contrived, the drama was forced, the humor was... not humorous. it's just another dumb show. too bad, i say. i would like to have seen a quality show on this topic. but because of all the publicity and uproar, it will continue to pull in big ratings, i'm sure.

when i went to google and typed in book of daniel nbc, the majority of the first hits were by faith-based organizations, blasting the show. others were about affiliates yanking the show due to pressure from christian groups.

the show should be yanked,no doubt. but not because christians cant handle the spotlight of introspection. it should be yanked because it was bad television.

Jacke M. said...

Jane, it is nice to meet you and I apologize for not replying sooner. Evidently my blog has a little glitch, I am not receiving comments when made here at my email address so I just thought no one was commenting. I was surprised to find your comment here.

Of course all Christians are incapable of fully understanding God, Jane, however, and maybe I shouldn't make this judgement, but I think the writer of NBC's the Book of Daniel is admitting something more extreme than the general consensus and acceptance that we do not and cannot fully fathom or understand God.

I'm going to pop over to Mini me's site and see what's shakin'. :)