Saturday, November 10, 2007

Okay, Pass the Crow

I will happily eat a plate of crow over something I wrote a few weeks ago related to the TV show ER adding a chaplain:


I'm all about a chaplain being portrayed as "normal." God knows clergy struggle with relationships as much as anyone else. I wonder, though...will she pray with people? Will she struggle with some of the tough spiritual questions that come with experiences in the ER? Will she counsel fellow staff after a tough loss of a patient? Will she share her struggles with others in a way that shows how draining and rewarding real chaplains find their work? Obviously, there'll be the sexual tension between her and Uncle Jesse. Oh, and she'll wear low-cut tops. I just hope there'll be more to it than that.


Basically, I was worried that she'd spend more time flirting with John Stamos than doing her job, and that when she did do her job, it'd be so watered-down so as not to reflect what real chaplains do on a daily basis.

This past week I willed myself to sit through ER in order to see what exactly they do with their new chaplain. It's not that I don't enjoy the show...I just don't watch it regularly and 10:00 seems to constitute "late" for me nowadays. I know...lame.

Side note: hey look, it's Stanley Tucci! Cool!

Our new chaplain was not the focal point of the show by any means. Instead, there was something about a heat wave (on a November episode) that I think allowed them to keep with NBC's "green" theme of the night. And another character has a serious drinking problem that apparently almost everyone else is oblivious to.

Anyway, the chaplain first appears tonight finishing a visit with a Jewish family. As she departs, she uses a Hebrew phrase to wish them well. So she's aware of the diversity of religious worldviews that will show up at her job, and she makes use of that knowledge to help care for her patients. And she does this in specific ways, rather than offer a few inoffensive platitudes. Okay.

Later in the episode, John Stamos notices the labyrinth tattoo on her wrist and asks about it. She goes into a somewhat detailed response about what the labyrinth symbolizes and its meaning to her. Dropping some knowledge while giving just a tiny snippet of her own faith story. Okay again.

She explains the tattoo's meaning (after also mentioning that she has more than one) while drinking beer and shooting pool. So that successfully portrays about 60-70% of the pastors that I know. Granted, I run in less uppity circles so mileage may vary. Still, she hangs out without bringing attention to it, i.e., "Hey, lookit me the chaplain drinking beer!" which was what made a show like Book of Daniel so horrendous.

I was even wrong about the low-cut top/cleavage thing. She wore stuff that was contemporary and a little provocative, but not in a "trying too hard to make the chaplain not a nun" sort of way.

Maybe she's UCC.

All in all, based on one episode, I might be willing to call this one of the better clergy portrayals on TV. But where's it going? Once her thing with Stamos' character hits full stride, will she retain her chaplain-ness? Maybe it'll present a conflict about how well she can do her job while being involved with a co-worker! I guess time will tell. But so far, so good.

Can I get my crow with a honey glaze?

3 comments:

shawn said...

Cool ... it's about time a TV show OTHER than Dan Ackroyd's Soul Man presents us clergy in a REAL and human light ...

The problem is though - life just ain't ready for what we're really like!!

As one who cusses periodically, likes beer, and has had more than my fair share of tussles along the way - presenting and maintaining a REALISTIC image of clergy is vital to the health of us all.

I may have to start watching ER again to see how this unfolds ... your posting sounds tantalizing ...

BTW, love the blog - keep up the good work ... and thanks, from one pastor to another ...

genxpastor said...

Hope you didn't clean your plate. This week's episode showed the chaplain as a dope-smoking looney, IMHO. Real life may be too boring for ER; no helicopters crashed at St. Luke's while I was doing CPE.

Coffeepastor said...

True, Genx. That was disappointing that they felt the need to throw that in. Now we're suddenly in "Book of Daniel" territory. Well, it showed promise before that.