Okay, I know I a lot of my Christian friends probably think I push the envelope of Christian propriety because I watch what can only be called "gritty" television. My most recent foray into the land of fictionalized fallen humanity is the Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black. It is based on the memoir of a nice, upper-middle class woman who finds herself in a women's prison for transporting drug money. It has all the features you might expect - sex between inmates, semi-coercive sex between inmates and prison employees, strong language and the requisite Crazy Christian. And she’s what I want to talk about. Or rather, I want to talk about why it is so difficult to find a media portrayal of either 1) a normal Christian or 2) actual Christian beliefs.
The Christian in the show is a meth addict who is in the prison because she killed someone at an abortion clinic - not because she was protesting abortion, but because while she was having one, a clinic employee “disrespected” her by commenting that she had been there five times already. She was not a Christian at this time. You know when she “became” a Christian? When a “Christian” law firm approached her and wanted to take on her case, because now she had all kinds of “Christian” fans who thought she was “defending the unborn” with her rifle.
Once she is in the prison she is constantly going on about the evil lesbians everywhere and telling everyone that she is God’s prophet and surrounding herself with a bunch of minions who play along with her so-called healing powers. You won’t be surprised to learn that she is not all that popular, nor does she ever proclaim anything resembling the actual gospel. The main character, Piper, somehow gets on our prophet's bad side (not hard to do) and in order to make peace, she says a prayer that satisfies the Crazy Christian enough to think Piper now warrants baptism. So, they clean out the muck sink in the laundry room to use for dunkin' the former evil sinner right into God’s Kingdom. When the attractive blonde sees the murky waters of her salvation, she backs out and finally shares what she really thinks.
Piper: I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony Awards while a million people get whacked with machetes. I don't believe a billion Indians are going to hell, I don't think we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don't believe that people die young because God needs another angel. I think it's just bullshit, and on some level, I think we all know that. I mean, don't you?
Crazy Christian’s Minion: The angel thing does seem kind of desperate.
Crazy Christian: I thought you was a Christian.
Minion: I am, but I got some questions.
Piper: Look, I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all of the random shitty things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride, I'm sure I would be happier. But I can't. Feelings aren't enough. I need it to be real.
In all my years as a Christian, I have never met another believer who 1) thought shooting abortion providers was “doing God’s work” 2) called themselves a prophet and/or 3) thought they had healing powers. But I have talked to numerous non-believers who do equate Christianity with these doctrinally unsound fringe elements and absolutely do not know what the gospel is. They do ask important questions like, well, why do people get whacked with machetes if God is supposed to be good. But why haven’t they heard that our faith is not based on feelings? Who told them dead children become angels? Why don’t they know that people get cancer because we live in a fallen world full of fallen people, and so we can all expect to eventually receive that paycheck - the wages of sin, which is death.
There are so many problems with both the Crazy Christian character and Piper’s understanding of the Christian faith. Are Christians really portraying the gospel as something it isn’t, or are non-Christian creatives suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1). I suspect it is a combination of both. Someone doesn’t have to believe in the Christian doctrine to present it correctly - well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens proves that. It’s disappointing (but not surprising, I suppose) that people who can produce an otherwise thoughtful show would fall into depicting caricature Christians (and this is not the only one to do so). But shame on us if we are lending ourselves to being caricatured.
What is the reason for the hope that is in you? How would you answer Piper?