A Critique of NBC TVís
"Book of Daniel"
Yvonne S. Waite
January 14, 2006
I didn't intend to watch it, but I did. I was flicking channels and there before my eyes was THE BOOK OF DANIEL on the television screen. NO, IT WAS NOT THE BOOK OF DANIEL IN THE BIBLE. It was a new television show. You know which TV show I am talking about, don't you? It was the beginning of that infamous six-episode TV series showing a dysfunctional "Christian" family. It was that program that laughed at so-called "Christian" church leadership and their families. There I saw "clergy-sin" splashed in front of me. I saw the homosexual author's corrupted views of the life of an Episcopal clergyman. I viewed the pastor's family's flaws, his associates' antics, his superiors' sins, as well as the adultery of his sermonizing father. I saw homosexuality accepted, adultery condoned, fornication performed, drunkenness permitted, racism voiced, and drug dealing and embezzlement winked at. All of this corruption was found in an Anglican chapel's manse.
This particular story-line was related to the "church" and "church people." This blatant sinful lifestyle was portrayed with tongue-in-cheek by Jack Kenny, the writer/producer, who patterned the TV series THE BOOK OF DANIEL's story-line after his male life-partner's family. Such willful, sinful behavior is winked at by the viewers of many TV programs. For sure, it was a most unseemly televised program full of teenage pre-marital sex, a bishop's hankering for codeine, a frantic preacher's Vicodin vice, and his wife's martini guzzling. Lesbianism, womanizing, fornicating, adultery, and homosexuality was never condemned by the pastor or his sidekick, the so-called "Jesus" figure, who showed up often, to say little or nothing about the prelate's own cursing, smoking, and pill popping. There were Catholic priest's mobster connections within Daniel Webster's holy orders, plus racism by the deacon's wife, as well as theft by a trusted church official, to say nothing of his daughter, the marijuana saleswoman. No wonder KBTV in Beaumont, Texas, WGFC in Meridian Mississippi, KARK in Little Rock, Arkansas, and WTWO in Terre Haute, Indiana, did not air the program. They are to be commended!
What a devious plan to name a hurtful television show after one of God's most noble men. Daniel, the prophet in the Bible, was a man of conviction and courage, not a man of sin and scum. Against his will, as a young boy, the Daniel of the Bible had been taken captive and shipped from Jerusalem to Babylon at the whim of King Nebuchadnezzar. Perhaps Daniel never saw his parents again. His captivity in Babylon did not turn him away from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In spite of Daniel's loneliness and pain, he became bold for Jehovah! Immediately he and his friends took a dietary stand against the rich, non-kosher foods he was offered. Rather, the Hebrews chose not to be defiled but eat vegetables and water for ten days. At the end of the testing-time, the Jewish captives were healthier than those other brilliant heathen young men who ate the rich Chaldeans food.
The Daniel of the Bible dared to have a consistent prayer life. He boldly prayed to the God of his fathers even though it meant gossip and betrayal by the jealous citizens around him. When he was cast into the den of lions, he entered that pit still trusting his God. He had no idea whether he would live or die. He trusted God no matter what.
Daniel was a prophet of renown. God trusted him with revelation concerning the future and end times. How could NBC demean such a prophet by supplanting the name of Daniel and his book with such a crass television program?!
Depicting a dysfunctional family in church leadership by the writers of television's THE BOOK OF DANIEL was thought to be a joke, a quirky comedy-drama. Instead, we should have seen sad sinners in need of repentance. Hypocrisy would be a good word to describe such a pastor as the fanciful Father Daniel Webster, in real life, with his lack of family and personal control. The Bible tells us that a bishop (or pastor) should rule "well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. . ." (I Timothy 3:4) The next verse says "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (vs.. 5)
You and I were supposed to laugh at such antics. Instead we could have cried. Why? Because the Church has let herself become a laughing stock to the world around her. Instead of a purifying agent in the world, the Church and the people in the Church, who claim to know Jesus Christ as Saviour, have become defiled. No longer is the world afraid to mock Christianity. The unsaved world cannot see a difference between the "lost" and the "saved." The church with all of her contemporary music and watered-down Bible versions has lost its edge. Today many Christians have lost their testimonies. They are like Lot in Sodom with no witness for Jesus Christ! God is spitting our churches out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15-16). Christians have lost their first love and walk like the world, talk like the world, and commit sins like the world.
A born-again Christian is a new creature in Christ Jesus. Old things should have passed away and all things should have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet, in many of the lives of those who profess Jesus Christ, there is no change. "He which is filthy, . . [is] filthy still!" (Revelation 22:11) A Christian should not take God's name in vain, drink, cheat on their spouses, or steal from the church till. But, it is apparent that many who say they are saved see nothing wrong with such behavior. The Bible says in I John 2:15a: "Love not the world, neither the things the are in the world. . . " No wonder NBC dared to produce such a disrespectful TV show as THE BOOK OF DANIEL. They knew they could get away with it. And they have done so!
Yes, I know some clergymen personally--in fact I am married to one. They are not perfect. They are human. For the most part, their goals are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and honor His Words. Preachers are not God. They are ordinary men with the extraordinary call of God upon their lives. They have a burden like Isaiah of old. A coal of fire has been put upon their tongues. They cry out, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." Some fail God, that's true. They get their eyes off their goals and succumb to their flesh, the whining of their people, the siren call of the Devil, or the tithes and offerings of their congregations. Some let the cares of the world bring coldness to their soul. People disappoint them. Some pastors' wives complain and hate being a pastor's wife. Often these lonely woman are left at home with their children while their husbands take care of other peoples' problems. Soon the Word of God is blasphemed. The testimony is lost!
The Bible tells us that a bishop (or pastor) "ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. . ." (I Timothy 3:4) Often his children rebel and wander away. In rebellion, they do not realize the havoc they have caused, nor do they care. Children are selfish. The next verse reads, "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (vs.. 5) Some preachers do fail God; but, honestly I have never known such corruption on every hand as viewed in the minister's family as was portrayed in a recent Friday night on my television screen. There were so many blatant sins in one household in those two TV hours that it was hard to count or record them. The whole Webster family was a den of iniquity! (The only good thing in the family was that the pastor and his wife seemed to enjoy their marriage together as husband and wife. Yet, we did not need to have all the intimate description.) That fictitious parson character should get out of his fictitious ministry. No preacher with such rampant sin in his midst should walk into a pulpit so unclean and unforgiven. Yet, in real life, some do this. Sad to say, these wayward ministers preach until they are caught.
Some sins, such as adultery and remarriage, disqualify a clergyman forever from pastoral duties. The Bible says a pastor should be "the husband of one wife." Some have such sin and continue in the Lord's service. They deceive their own selves (James 1:22). The stupid people in the pew apparently like to have it so. Often preachers get their eyes off their godly goals and succumb to the complaining of their people. Moses had such experiences. Hidden sin has a way of being exposed, you know. The Bible says "Be sure your sin will find you out!" (Numbers 32:23)--and it does.
Of course, my ministerial contacts are not with the Episcopal Church like this fictional pastor. Perhaps that denomination has a different standard than the Words of God for their pastors ethical behavior. Maybe that's why some of our Episcopal friends are disgusted with their church. They are striving for reform. I don't think it will ever come. I heard on the news that an Episcopal Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, thought THE BOOK OF DANIEL was hilarious. To me that shows how apostate the denomination has become.
In this fictional TV farce, it seemed to me that the family business was the ministry. (You know like some families are all doctors, or printers, or coal miners.) To some, the ministry is a way to earn a living, not a dedication and devotion to serve God. It is a "business" to them. In the viewing of that unnecessary television series, there was no feeling in the clergymen's hearts of "for the love of Christ constraineth us. . ." (2 Corinthians 5:14) None of those men of the cloth in any conversations--not even in the talks Father Daniel Webster had with the Jesus character, who popped up whenever there was a problem, acted like the Bible meant anything to them. Daniel Webster, the main character who couldn't get through a day without popping pain pills for every crisis, had many relatives who were and are Episcopal priests. In fact, his father who was the tall, skinny-bishop, was ecclesiastically over his son. This tall, skinny, hierarchal bishop was often rebuffed by his short-haired anorexic-like wife, the mother of Daniel. The poor woman was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease--a pathetic figure indeed.
I personally think the worse sub-plot in the whole two-hour-extravaganza came at the close of the two-hour Daniel marathon. It took the cake for Biblical disrespect, as far as I was concerned. Remember the skinny, pretentious, unattractive bishop--the two-faced pious-acting grandfather of Daniel's children? Well, it turned out that he and the lady-bishop, under whom Daniel served in his church, were having an on-going adulterous love-affair. This formally-robed and mitered woman-bishop, who stood every Sunday by Father Daniel Websterís side at the Episcopal altar, was nothing but a codeine-swallowing-hypocrite who played "footsie" with his bishop/father on week nights. A disgrace!
Usually if sin is in his family, a conscientious, God-fearing pastor will deal with it in his home. Such dealings are not always popular with his wife and children. It is difficult for a man of God to maintain a Christian home when his children disrespect their father's ministry. Sometimes a preacher's son gets a girl in the congregation pregnant. It could be that a preacher's child steals candy from the local grocery store. Sometimes a preacher's daughter runs with the wrong crowd and dabbles in drugs which are ruining her life. Often the preacher's wife is rebellious. The rigors of the parsonage and the criticisms of the parishioners wear her down. Such behavior hurts the pastor/father's testimony in the church and in the community. If these matters cannot be corrected, he has to leave the ministry, move to another area, and perhaps sell cars for a living at the local automobile dealership. The Bible says in Titus 1:6, when speaking of a pastor, that he should have "faithful children not accused of riot or unruly." When the Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 3:6 "Not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil," he knew what he was talking about.
It also seems most unfair to name such a spineless character as television's Father Daniel Webster in TV's THE BOOK OF DANIEL after the renowned real-life orator, Daniel Webster. The original Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was a hero of the school boys in his day. He served the United States of America as a Senator and Secretary of State with honor. In my opinion, it is a shame to disgrace his noble name by waving his name in front of the world in association with blatant sins. Could it be that the producersí goal is to warp the viewers in such a perverted way that they will never revere our historic "Daniels" again?.
"MOREOVER HE [a pastor] MUST HAVE A GOOD REPORT
OF THEM WHICH ARE WITHOUT;
LEST HE FALL INTO REPROACH [shame]
AND THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL"
The Bible For Today
For whosoever shall call upon the name
of the Lord shall be saved.
From the Authorized King James Bible