ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–In a post-modern world, “The Book of Daniel” should have worked.
The television show, recently canceled by NBC due to poor ratings and lack of sponsorship, featured an Episcopal priest addicted to prescription drugs whose wife was an alcoholic. The couple had three children: a drug-dealing daughter, a sexually-active straight son and a sexually-active homosexual son.
If the above scenario was not sufficiently dysfunctional, the priest’s father, also a member of the clergy, was having a sexual relationship with a female bishop. Additionally, the priest’s lesbian secretary was involved sexually with his sister-in-law.
In the midst of all this immoral and sinful behavior, a cool, hip Jesus periodically would appear to visit the priest and offer tidbits of tolerant, non-judgmental advice.
In a culture dominated by post-modern thought where tolerance and acceptance are preached as the chief of all virtues and where absolute truth is viewed, at best, to be unknowable, it would seem that “Daniel” had all the elements that should have translated into a huge hit.
According to the Internet news site WorldNetDaily, “Daniel” creator Jack Kenny described the show’s characters as “good, flawed people, who loved each other no matter what.”
In Kenny’s post-modern assessment, addiction to prescription drugs, alcoholism, drug-dealing and immoral sexual behaviors are nothing more than flaws. None of the characters’ actions ever were condemned. They were simply “understood” in an environment of love and acceptance.
In spite of Daniel’s post-modern messages, it was not a hit. In fact, the show tanked in near record time. NBC pulled the plug on the program after three weeks and only four shows.
Supporters of the program blame conservative Christian organizations for its demise, citing calls for sponsor boycotts by various groups. While I would never discount the persuasive power of conservative grassroots movements, they may not be the only reason for the show’s demise.
One explanation for the program’s failure seems obvious. Jack Kenny is simply out of touch with grassroots Americans.
I have a theory that people who live unexamined lives just assume that other people have lives that run parallel to their own.
I was talking with a high school friend at a homecoming event a few years ago. In the midst of telling me about one of his four failed marriages, he paused to ask me how many times I had been married. I confessed I was still married to my first and only wife.
Like my friend, it seems that Jack Kenny just assumes that everyone’s life is like his. While the world he inhabits may be teeming with homosexual liaisons, heterosexual trysts and drug abuse, it is not the reality of most Americans.
Another possible reason for “Daniel” going away is that people are realizing that tolerance and acceptance of destructive behaviors are not good for individuals or society.
Most Americans understand that drug abuse and immoral sex are not behaviors that need to be accepted and/or tolerated. People caught up in either should be told that their choices are immoral and destructive. Their behavior, in a word, is wrong.
Over the past 50 years, divorce went from being viewed as a tragedy to avoid to an accepted remedy for most any marital difficulty. People finally are beginning to realize that our society is worse, not better, as a result.
The bland cultural attitude toward divorce not only undermined the sanctity of marriage, but it also contributed adversely to the plight of many children.
Insisting a choice or a behavior is immoral, sinful or wrong is not tantamount to condemning the individual making the choice or engaging in the behavior.
When a woman caught in the very act of adultery was brought to Jesus, He did not condemn her. However, he did say that her behavior was immoral by instructing her “to go and sin no more.”
While pundits continue to proclaim that moral absolutes are outmoded and irrelevant concepts for a socially, sexually and religiously pluralistic society, “The Book of Daniel” demise might indicate that fewer and fewer Americans are heeding post-modern pronouncements.
Could it be that grassroots Americans are not nearly as post-modernly hip as the experts believe?
Boggs is editor of the Baptist Message newspaper in Louisiana.