I’m never quite sure when it’s OK for one to profess their love of Glee. But seeing as Mockingbird has a thing for being simultaneously uncool and popular at the same time, I figured this might be the place to discuss this past week’s religion themed episode of everybody’s favorite high school drama/musical/satire/dark comedy.
This week on the show, religion became the theme- all the music and story lines coalesce around questions of prayer, the problem of evil, the meaning of suffering, God’s existence, and the role God plays in all of these big questions.
-Kurt, already dealing with his mother’s death from earlier in his childhood, finds himself in a moment of crisis when his father has a heart attack and ends up in a coma. Kurt’s big musical number is a tear-jerking rendition of the Beatle’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
-Finn, the ex-high school quarterback, makes a grilled cheese sandwich which, after cooked, displays the visage of Christ in the burnt marks. After prayers to his “Grilled Cheesus” are answered, Finn finds faith and has a religious conversion (much to the chagrin of his Jewish girlfriend). After his prayers lead to another football player ending up in the hospital, he has a deconversion and sings REM’s Losing My Religion.
-Mercedes, the Aretha-Franklin-channeling African American character, tries repeatedly to comfort Kurt by bringing him to church. She eventually convinces him to come, and she and her church’s gospel choir sing an inspirational cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
-Sue, the villainous cheerleading coach, angrily opposes the religious antics of the Glee club. She cannot understand how a loving God would allow her sister to be born with Down syndrome. She steps in to shut the whole thing down.
But what’s fascinating is how the show eventually finds its conclusion. The Glee Club ends the show by singing a very mockingbird song: Joan Osborne’s What if God was One of Us? The question being, of course, “What if God actually got down here? Could he handle it? Does God know what we’re going through? Does God deal with loneliness, death, dying, rejection, or abandonment?”
And of course, we at Mockingbird resoundingly answer yes–God was one of us. God himself did deal with loneliness, death, dying, rejection and abandonment. Jesus experienced all these things and more as a human being. Our God is the God of sufferers, the God of the suffering. And knowing this, we can take comfort that our God is one who not only empathizes with us, but is preparing for us a place without any suffering, without tears, without hunger, and without shame.
15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:15-16
The whole episode can be watched here