I grew up in a house where the television show The Simpsons was off limits. I’ve never been particularly fond of the few minutes of the show that I’ve seen since I’ve been away from my rents, but for some reason, The Simpsons was the first thing on my mind this morning.
It turns out, interestingly, that there’s quite a bit of literature about the connection between The Simpsons and God. One article in particular is entitled, “The Gospel According to Homer.”
There’s a couple of quotes that the article points out that are worth discussing. Here’s the first,
“Dear Lord,” Marge prays, “if you spare this town from becoming a smoking hole in the ground [the nearby nuclear reactor is in danger of melting down], I’ll try to be a better Christian. I don’t know what I can do. Ummm . . . oh, the next time there’s a canned-food drive, I’ll give the poor something they actually like, instead of old lima beans and pumpkin mix.”
What’s funny is that Matt Groening’s Marge captures perfectly my occasional attitude towards the least of these. The least of these can have my left overs. I’ll hang out at the food bank on Friday if I have time, which translate to “if I have nothing better to do.” Just are Marge fails to make the poor a priority, I too treat loving the least of these as some side project instead of the reason for my existence. Thank you, Mr. Groening. Its amazing that, Groening spits a better sermon than many professional preachers.
This one is my favorite,
Asked by Bart what his religious beliefs are, Homer answers, “You know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don’t work in real life. Uh, Christianity.”
Here, Homer comically captures the tension between conventional wisdom and the subversive wisdom of the Gospel. “…rules that don’t work in real life” that is precisely how the message should appear if it really is Jesus’ message.
To the conventional mind, how practical is it really to turn the other cheek? How much “sense” does it really make to drop everything and follow a stranger? Can I really convince myself, as a 21st century American, that it isn’t a little crazy to believe that someone came back from the dead? (The disciples themselves did not believe the reports of the women because of the epistemologically scandalous nature of the resurrection.)
I spend much of my time trying to convince myself that I’m not crazy for believing all of this nonsense, so I can relate to Homer’s remarks. What gets me every time is that when I start living this crazy life of discipleship (the one that looks like death but is actually life), I feel alive. I feel connected to something Divine.
I hope that one day my only hope will to share this life with others.
Little did my parents know, that when they were forbidding me to watch the Simpsons, they were actually stopping me from hearing some spiritually delicious dialogue.