View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Watch out, I get preachy!

The other night, we were watching a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Over its last two seasons, the show has generally been rated family-friendly, so most parents assume that it’s fine for their children to watch it.

Of course, that was not always the case with the show, and this rerun showed why.

This episode has Ray and Debra remembering how they met. Ray was working as a futon delivery man. He and another man delivered one to Debra’s apartment, where, after his usual bumbling, he arranges a date with her.

As he and his partner are leaving, they discover they’d forgotten to deliver the futon cover, so Ray knocks, mistakenly thinks she says, “Come in,” then he walks in to find her putting on a dress and so is topless (we only see her back).

That’s not the problem, though. Later, they do have a date, and end up on the floor kissing passionately, and she tells him that he won’t get to see her naked again for at least six months.

The implication is, of course, that if they date for a while they will have sex.

In another episode, when Ray is trying to propose, she misunderstands and tries to lead him upstairs to his room to have sex. It is clear that they have an ongoing sexual relationship while dating (without even the excuse yet of being "engaged" that so many people use to justify having sex).

Okay, so here’s a show that parents might consider safe, and the kids are watching reruns like this getting the message that it’s normal for people to have sex before they marry. But that counters the teachings of the Church, and any moral lessons their parents might be trying to impart. Think of the mixed messages the children are getting.

And that’s with a generally family-friendly show. Last season, shows like Desperate Housewives and Two and a Half Men were in the top 20, and think of the messages they are giving our children! And we also have regular reruns of shows like Friends and Sex in the City to contend with.

Are we allowing moral teachings to be undermined by the shows we allow our children to watch? Are the two hours a week of Mass and religious education they get being swamped by the 20-30 hours (or more) of shows that contradict and even mock faith and morality?

And think of the example we set by the shows we watch?

I’m not calling for censorship. I just think we have to pay more attention. We need to be selective.

We have to think about the lessons we are giving our children by what we watch, and what we allow them to watch unsupervised.

“It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:2 (NAB)


Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Lee, there's no doubt that Everybody Loves Raymond was, at best, a mixed bag.

Frankly, I can't think of any primetime show I'd let my kids watch without supervision.

But do you recall the episode of Raymond in which his entire family (and remember, they're Catholics) lets Ray know that they're unhappy that he never goes to mass with them?

How many TV families are weekly churchgoers?

11:44 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I vaguely remember that one. Is that the same one at which his father is an usher only so he can hang out with the other ushers and avoid actually going to Mass?

In Raymond as a whole, most of the "bad stuff" was just inuendo. Other shows are certainly far worse.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Steve Bogner said...

When we watch TV, which is not often, we tune into things like Discovery channel, Nat Geopgrahic, Animal Planet, and so on. Almost never the major networks. There just isn't really much of anything that we want to watch.

When we moved into our current house, we put the TV in the finished basement. If someone wants to watch TV, they have to have a reason to go do so. And now, we watch very little of it.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

Our daughter's friends think we're the Stepford Parents. Brittany gets an hour a day: PBS Kids, Food Network, Animal Planet--that's about it.

The other day I paused on Law and Order for a moment, and Brittany said, "Dad, isn't this bad for me? Change the channel, please."

1:20 PM  

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