You're a Saint, HomerBy David K. Li
© New York Post, September 8, 2001.
At first glance, it would be difficult to confuse Christian-based shows like "Touched By an Angel" or "7th Heaven" with the animated badboy comedy "The Simpsons."
But beyond Homer's donut-eating gluttony, Bart's demonic behavior and neighbor Ned Flanders' obsessive evangelical faith lies the most spiritual, religiously inclusive TV show this side of "The 700 Club."
That's according to the author of a new book, "The Gospel According to The Simpsons," written by Mark Pinsky, who covers religion for the Orlando Sentinel. Pinsky makes the hard-to-believe-but-well-argued point that "The Simpsons" portrays American religion better than anything else on TV.
Not only does religion play a basic role on "The Simpsons," but Pinsky shows how it even addresses the most intricate issues of American spirituality.
Homer, according to Pinsky, falls into the classic category of a "folk religion" or "religio-magic" Christian who believes any immediate need can be answered by prayer. Take for example his desire to score tickets to a soldout football game: "God, if you really are God, you'll get me tickets to that game. Why do you mock me O Lord?!"
Evangelical Flanders, while unwavering in his faith, can often be bewildered by God's mysterious ways.
In one episode, Homer floods the town for a conceptual art project but Ned thinks it's a biblical event. "The Lord has drowned the wicked and spared the righteous," Ned exclaims, only to be confused when he sees Homer row boating by. "Looks like heaven is easier to get into than Arizona State."
Rev. Lovejoy and his First Church of Springfield are favorite targets of "The Simpsons."
But Pinsky argues that "Simpsons" writers are not attacking people of faith but the institutional excess that often lead to hypocrisy. The church's marquee can often be found with messages such as "Sunday, the Miracle of Shame," "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Salvation," "Private Wedding: Please Worship Elsewhere," or a sermon title like "Evil Women in History, from Jezebel to Janet Reno."
Despite the growing influence of the Indian subcontinent and its immigrants to the Western Hemisphere, many within the Judeo-Christian community in America still struggle to grasp or appreciate the Hindu faith.
Take, for example, the time Rev. Lovejoy credits the efforts of Jews and Christians on the volunteer fire department that saved Homer's house.Lovejoy overlooks convenience store owner Apu, who points out that he's "Hindu! There are 700 million of us!" In a wonderfully condescending tone, Lovejoy reponds: "Aw, that's super."
Last updated on October 10, 2001 by Jouni Paakkinen (firstname.lastname@example.org)