Thursday, September 2, 2010

Be Subject to One Another

Today I begin a course for undergraduates, mostly freshman, "Introduction to the Bible." I am anxious to begin.

I suspect I will have students (55 of them) along a continuum of experience with a Bible. Some will have owned a Bible since birth, been to Sunday school all their lives, etc. Some will never have opened the book at all. But I'm kind of assuming one thing for all of them. They will not have encountered Scripture as a phenomenon. I think I will be able to show all of them the Bible in ways they've never seen it before, and on the Bible's own terms.

But I also want them to know that the culture they live in has been shaped in some pretty important ways by Scripture. Even if they've never read Scripture, they've encountered it--in a song, a TV show or movie, a book, a well-worn phrase. Though its influence is not what it once was, we still have a lot of Scripture and its echoes sounding down the chambers of our culture.

I will show them this clip this afternoon. It's from one of my favorite all-time TV shows, The West Wing. And it features President and Mrs. Bartlett quarreling over church, and specifically a sermon from Eph 5:21. It's pretty stunning. My students will be asked to find three cultural artifacts like this during the semester. Maybe you have some suggestions of where to look.


Mark Love said...

An interesting aspect to this episode is that "Elizabeth Markey," the young girl who died at the beginning of the episode, was shot to death in a Baptist church in Abilene, Texas. Purely fiction, I'm sure. But love that Abilene made it as a town that seemed plausible for this kind of thing.

Julie Harper said...

I love the West Wing! We own the series, if you ever need to borrow it. This is a great clip. Thanks for sharing it with the freshmen!

David Moore said...

Well, there are plenty of other examples just in the "The West Wing." A great argument about Levitical Law in the 2nd season, and a great scene involving the 10 commandments in the very first episode.

Also, in the 7th Harry Potter book, Harry and Hermione find two separate references to Corinthians in one small town graveyard. Two of my favorites. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," and, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Kurt Vonnegut, an agnostic, writes rather eloquently about The Sermon on the Mount is several of his books.

happytheman said...

Goes beyond reading verses on the In-N-Out packaging. My other favorite bible quoting episode is: good stuff.

Mark Love said...


We have all the seasons as well. Favorite alltime show.

- said...

I am not able to find the direct YouTube link to this clip. Can you provide it please?

justjamey said...

The Simpsons is full of stuff like this, perhaps not as long, generally. Your students may find that suggestion helpful