Donald Anthony DeBusk
As a general rule, I don't watch much television. But the controversy surrounding “The Book of Daniel,” lured me to tune in Friday night for the two-hour premiere.
The central character is an Episcopal priest who's been addicted to pain pills since he lost his son to leukemia. His wife eases her pain with vodka; his remaining biological son is homosexual; his daughter just got picked up for selling marijuana; and his adopted son is a philanderer. Add to his problems a brother-in-law who absconded with the church's $3 million-plus building fund and this is a man with real problems.
Those protesting the series also are offended that when Fr. Daniel talks to Jesus, he hallucinates, and the viewer sees Jesus appear beside him.
In his homily Sunday morning, St. Stephen's rector, Fr. Gary Baldwin, said he didn't think the series would have aired if it had been centered around any other denomination. That the creator could not get away with making Daniel a Baptist, a Catholic, or any other denomination, he said, breaks his heart.
While that may be true, it doesn't mean Episcopalians have cornered the market on family problems. And unfortunately, all of the problems Fr. Daniel faces in this television series are problems that appear too frequently in all of society – both in and out of the chruch.
Isn't the point of Christianity is that we are loved even when we deserve not to be? That our sins are forgiven because Christ paid the ultimate price for them on the cross? What better way to illustrate that than with a priest with a family full of problems.
The series creator said his goal with “Daniel” is to look at life through the prism of the church in the way that HBO's “The Sopranos” looks at life through the prism of the mafia. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, he'll manage to convey the central theme of Christianity. And perhaps the good Christians who were crucifying him for his work long before it aired can find it in their hearts to forgive him.
Michele Gerlach can be reached at 867.4876 or firstname.lastname@example.org.