Sorry, I couldn’t wait for Friday.
While her heart was in the right place, she really missed the mark. Maybe the redemptive analogies are just too obvious for her, or maybe Ms. Gibbs is just unschooled in the art of reading theology into pop culture. (If that’s the case, then I would suggest she check out William D. Romanowski’s excellent book, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture, for some background.)
This show is jam-packed with redemptive analogies, and that, I believe is part of its appeal. It isn’t just sappy entertainment; it also resonates on a spiritual level.
So let me talk a little theological smack here and share five spiritual aspects of the show. Hey, it’s a long way till next season.
(Warning: the following observations arise from my own Judeo-Christian perspective, because that’s my cultural frame of reference. Apologies to those who follow other paths. You have been warned.)
1. Will Schuester as messiah figure. This is the most obvious aspect that Gibbs somehow missed. I really don’t know how anyone could miss this one. Glee coach “Schu” inspires a dozen misfits from diverse backgrounds — his very own 12 disciples — to follow his crazy dream of forming a glee club. He leads them to the promised land of sectionals and to spiritual triumph over their own personal demons. But, like Moses of the Old Testament, Schu himself cannot enter into the promised land, for he has sinned, as all humans (even messiah figures) do. Moses smote the rock; Schu slept on the mattress. And their sins prevented them from seeing their dreams become reality.
2. Sue Sylvester, antichrist. The sly, conniving coach of the Cheerios, Sue Sylvester, could not be a more fitting adversary for Schuester. She is both Satan the Adversary and Judas the Betrayer. (Jane Lynch should win an Emmy for her role.)
3. Figgins at the judgment seat. The wise Principal Figgins is cast in the role of God Himself — or if that’s too much for you, maybe Solomon. He must judge between the rivals, Sue and Schu, and decide which one falls and which is redeemed. They both sit before the judgment seat, and Figgins thunders: “My word is official. Let it be written!” How much more of a patriarchical godlike statement can you get from a TV show?
4. Finn, the Peter/Joshua figure. So Schu cannot make it into the promised land. But one disciple can: the conflicted, hot-headed Finn. He fights with Puck, is absorbed with self-doubt, and yet he is the one who is anointed by Schu himself to unite the others after Schu himself must step aside. In the final episode, the messiah figure Schu even gives Finn “the keys to the kingdom,” much like Jesus of Nazareth did for his disciple Peter (c.f. Matt. 16:18-19).
5. Don’t stop believing (video link). Isn’t that the biggest spiritual message of all?
OK, Glee fans. Tell me what I missed.