The Simpsons and Christmas

The Simpsons have been on the air for 26 seasons . . .

th

. . . An eternity on television pointing to

the eternal question in us all.

at churchA teacher colleague was quite peeved.

Twenty-five years ago—I remember it like yesterday—she said, “It’s shows like The Simpsons we have to fight against in school. The irreverence is disgusting. I can’t believe parents let their kids watch the show.”

If she only knew.

The Simpsons was on at our house every week.

Jesus died for HomerBy no means am I a Simpsons aficionado. I have showed clips from the show to point out various ethical issues. And each season, many times during the twenty-plus shows produced, I have witnessed The Simpsons connection to religion but more specifically to The Church. So it was with great interest that I read Daniel Ross Goodman’s article in The Weekly Standard “An Animated God.” Goodman writes

The heart of The Simpsons is the family, and the heart of the family is often religion. The family goes to church together, they (occasionally) say bedtime prayers; they boast an evangelical Christian as a neighbor (Ned Flanders). . . . By continually casting a comedic light on matters of faith and the family, The Simpsons remains as relevant as religion itself.

homer prayingThe reason The Simpsons can discuss religion is because the questions of this life and the next life haunt us all. Like The Simpsons, we think comedy is perhaps the best way to discuss important issues: the word “comedy” comes from the word “cosmic.”

Our search for eternal answers to our temporal questions is best played with humor. Humor makes us think deeply, to think eternally.

We can’t get away from the eternal. The words of my favorite Christmas hymn tell of our universal interest past the grave

Come thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

ReverendNotice those last three lines: everyone hopes, desires, and longs for release, for rest.

Homer hopes, Marge desires, Bart and Lisa long for resolution in their lives. The Simpsons remind us from time to time of the eternal wish residing in every human heart.

The reason I celebrate The Simpsons pointing toward Christmas is because The Simpsons (perhaps, unintentionally) reminds us of our desire, our need for a savior.

We Christians look for THE Savior, Jesus, of whom it is prophesied will “come with healing” and so “heal our wounds” (Mal 4.2; Isa 53.3; 1 Pet 2.24).

Watch The Simpsons? I know you should. [1]

Consider the eternal issues of your longing heart? I know you will.

Accept Jesus’ salvation at Christmas? I hope you will.

Mark continues to praise The Father for The Son born of The Spirit, the joy of every longing heart. Dr. Mark Eckel brings his own longing heart to teach the longing hearts of students at Capital Seminary & Graduate School.

[1] Goodman reviews a number of episodes which deserve viewing and reviewing.

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One comment

  1. I grew up watching The Simpsons. It’s not quite as disparaging toward religion as Family Guy. I admit, I don’t really watch The Simpsons anymore. I haven’t for seven or eight years.

    Your take on that show is an interesting one that I had not yet encountered. Perhaps I will have to start watching it again. I remember one episode where Ned Flanders’ wife, Maude, dies. I think it paints Ned, usually seen as goofy goody-goody with his head in the clouds, in a sober and real light, showing that even faithful Christians struggle with death. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that episode, though. Perhaps my memory of the episode is not accurate. I’d like to know if you’ve seen that episode and if you have any comments about it.

    Thanks for the article, Dr. Eckel. I appreciate your writing and teaching. 🙂

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