Tina Brown, after moving to Washington DC, lamented that she had to meet “Christians” every day: something she didn’t have to do when she lived in NYCity.

Apparantly Ms. Brown was a snob because she didn’t notice all the “invisible men” (and women) around her. She didn’t notice her Latina Catholic cleaning lady, nor the Italian Catholic cop on the street, nor the Muslim taxi driver, nor that her doorman was a deacon in a local Baptist church, nor that most of the secretaries at her magazine were practicing Christians.
One feels the same snobbery when reading the NYTimes article about TV shows that openly portray religion.

Here is paragraph two:

Episodic television has always celebrated Christmas the way secular humanists and the neglectfully faithful have: with overcooked turkey, undercooked turkey, too much bourbon, not enough bourbon, mind games, debt, farcical airport delays, injurious gift giving, fractured compromise, teary problem solving, newly found bastard children and the lewd mistletoe enticements to sexual distraction that result in those children.

The problem? Even in NYCity, a lot of secular humanists attend midnight Mass on Christmas. And where in the description are the ordinary millions of people who include time to worship. Ninety percent of Americans are Christian and see Christmas as a holiday to spend with family, but also a Holy Day. (and a lot of Jews and Muslims quietly enjoy the holiday as with their family– and in cities, many of them volunteered to work at hospitals so that their Christian counterparts could take the day off).

The entire article shows a dearth of personal experience with faith, and a blindness to those ordinary people around her who practice their faith.

The writer then goes on to insist that TV shows are full of faith…
Well, I live in the Philippines, so I wouldn’t know. But reading her examples, I find the same agnosia of how ordinary folks live. Why then does the writer think that these examples prove how TV covers faith?
A dishonest preacher to expose the “hypocracies of piety” ignores that many people try to do the right thing. A “practitioner of Christian Science…screaming against penicillin” ignores the deep faith and peace of many of that sect–as opposed to the “herbal/back to the land” types who distrust modern medicine. A familiy that “decides to visit a church” and finds to her disgust that the only church in town is a big, materialistic “megachurch (what, no Catholic church? no small Bible churches? No Methodists? Where in heaven’s name does she live?) As for a plastic surgeon who goes to “rediscover his faith,…and thank God for delivering him to an overdosing woman in time to save her life.” How sweet. But what did he do in the next episode? Maybe go to Haiti and repair cleft palates with Dr./Senator Frith?
As for the “cheerleader” in “Saturday Night Lights”: it doesn’t run here in Asia (yet). But I wonder if the writers get the culture correct, or is it just one more Bubbah bashing show?

There is no denominational neutrality here; the show aligns itself with one brand of Christianity over another. The mainstream churches of Dillon, Tex., the show’s setting, have ministers prompting their congregations to pray for Panther victory. But in the places Lyla practices her evangelism, God is called upon for less selfish signs of charity.

Ah, maybe they do get the culture correct. The point is that America is full of people who find strength to perform the “duties of their daily lives” in their faith and even in their houses of worship. Not all will go on to visit prisoners, as in the TV show: many more will visit their sick neighbor with a hot dish, or knit scarves, or serve at the food bank, or even just care for their kids.
What the writer doesn’t seem to notice is that the average “person of faith” doesn’t go around preaching Jesus (or wearing a yamulka, or praying loudly five times a day), but that the beliefs of his or her religion who it’s fruit quietly and faithfully in everyday live. That is what’s missing from her analysis, and why I called it “agnosia”: failure to recognize the concept, and a blindness that the concept of faith lived in one’s life exists.

And you know, once in awhile, instead of the “in” promiscuity, vanity, greed, and disdain of the TV world, we’d like to see dramas where the “faith” is so much a part of life that you don’t need to preach about it. Even if it is only shown at Christmas time.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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