The Simpsons: Religious or Sacrilegious?
As Christians, should we abhor, embrace or ignore a TV show like "The Simpsons"? Gene Edward Veith, in this week's World Magazine cover story, takes a Christian worldview look at this Fox cartoon, a cultural phenomenon that has endured for 15 years.
In the article, Veith writes: . . .
Mark Pinsky, in his book The Gospel According to the Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family (Westminster John Knox Press), points out that religion, which plays an important part in the lives of most Americans, is utterly invisible on most TV shows. But the Simpsons go to church, pray before meals, and talk about religion. At least one out of every three shows features a clear religious reference. Of those, one out of 10 is completely constructed around a religious theme. (For example, in "Homer v. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment," he has to learn that God does not approve of stealing cable TV. In "Homer the Heretic," he tries to start his own religion, until Flanders saves his life.)
Though the depiction of religion is mostly sympathetic, sometimes The Simpsons walks—or trips over—the line between comic insight and sacrilege. The Word of God is holy, but Simpsons characters spout garbled and made-up Bible verses from nonexistent books like "First Thessaleezians." One Halloween episode featured Fractured Fairy Tale–style spoofs of various Bible stories. The show's smart-aleck attitude is sometimes aimed at God, as when Bart says this meal-time prayer: "Dear God, we paid for all of this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing." The sacrilege is never justifiable, but the nature of comedy leads its creators to live dangerously.
I watched "The Simpsons" religiously (and taped every episode!) the first three or four years it was on the air. I then lost interest in it and haven't seen an episode since.
For those of you who do watch it, do you find it sacrilegious or do you think it offers, through satire, a positive moral message that actually promotes family values?