Thursday, September 27, 2012

If Only All Days Were Mayberry Days!

Every time you turn on the TV, it seems, people are fighting. Court shows give us stories of neighbors fighting neighbors and co-workers fighting co-workers - even family members going after each other! Whether you're watching daytime soaps or talk shows or prime time programming, it seems like almost everything is filled with people insulting each other and stabbing each other in the back. On the news, we see conflicts between nations, or we see images of protests, political bickering, and Muslim riots.

What's sad is you don't even have to turn on your TV to see similar things. There are plenty of real-life families where people have fought to the point they're no longer speaking to one another, and sometimes office politics can get downright vicious.

Gone fishin' © Viacom International Inc.
I don't know about you, but it makes me long for a simpler time. That's one reason why I love The Andy Griffith Show. Though it was born in a decade marked by civil rights protests, the assassinations of JFK and MLK, an increasing drug culture and the Vietnam war, the show reminded America that there could be a better way.

It's not that life was always peaceful in Mayberry - folks there had their share of problems, too - but with the good Sheriff Andy Taylor on the job, there was no conflict that couldn't be resolved in 30 minutes or less, and there was always time to relax on the front porch or go on a little fishing trip. The great thing about The Andy Griffith Show, though, is that not only does it paint an ideal world, but when conflicts arise, it also often explains why and then shows us what to do about it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you witnessed poverty and injustice firsthand? Would you look the other way? Would you kick someone while they're down? Would you laugh at their misfortune? Or would you be moved to compassion and stand up for what's right? This was the question posed in a segment last Friday on ABC's program, "What Would You Do?"

When you first hear the question, I hope your initial response is that you would step in to help, but the point of the show is to place people unexpectedly in situations and see what they would really do. The show asks unwitting people to give not a hypothetical answer, but a practical one. The scenario is that a Good Samaritan brings a homeless man into a restaurant, seats him at the bar, gives him $20 to buy a meal and then leaves, but the bartender refuses to serve the man and even confiscates his money. While the homeless man, the Good Samaritan and the bartender are all actors, the people seated nearby are not. As the scene is played out over and over again, the question is: if you were sitting next to the homeless man, what would you do? The answers may surprise you.

For those who missed it, here's the segment I'm talking about:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith and Medicine

People Will Talk © 1951 Twentieth Century Fox
Last night, as part of a tribute to Cary Grant, Turner Classic Movies premiered People Will Talk, a romantic comedy from 1951. Grant plays Dr. Noah Praetorius, a physician who adds a holistic approach to the way he practices medicine. Along the way, he falls in love with a female patient who is pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby, and later we discover he is hiding a big secret about one of his closest friends. Fairly risqué themes for the era! And when people start talking, the doctor must defend himself at a hearing.

Although it's not a perfect analogy,I was struck by the many ways Dr. Praetorius - like Superman - stands out as a sort of type for Christ and a hopeful model for the way Christians ought to behave. He also speaks some words of wisdom I think are worth our consideration.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wisdom from the Wild West

Jimmy Stewart made 'em. Henry Fonda made several of 'em. Clint Eastwood built a reputation on 'em. John Wayne made more of 'em than you can probably name. Roy Rogers... The Lone Ranger...

Westerns - the stuff of legend!

Over the years, tales of the Old West have captured the imaginations of people young and old around the world. Often, these are stories about courage and survival. They're stories about struggling to provide for a family. Sometimes they teach us about race relations or the dignity of the poor. They teach us about things like responsibility, duty, respect, and honor. They teach us about right and wrong. And sometimes they remind us that the lines between good and evil are not always as black and white as we'd like them to be.

In 1957, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin starred in 3:10 to Yuma, the story of a struggling rancher determined to put the outlaw Ben Wade on the train to Yuma Prison. Fifty years later, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale played outlaw Ben Wade and rancher Dan Evans (respectively) in what I consider to be an excellent remake. It's rare for me to prefer a remake over an original, but in this case, I do. But whether you prefer the original or the updated version, 3:10 to Yuma is an interesting commentary on the roads we choose and the rough terrain and slippery slopes they can lead down.