Saturday, January 6, 2007

On God and Television

Public affairs programming is dull; I don't think anyone disputes that, even the most wonkish of C-SPAN junkies. That's how it happens -- not too many people enjoy dealing with administrivia, but it's got to be done. As it happens I've done quite a bit of public affairs programming and it's usually pretty much the same -- the host has in a guest or two to discuss some pressing affair such as homelessness or emergency preparedness. It's dry, but generally important.

Now I'm a militant agnostic, have been for a little over five years (I grew up Catholic but gave up on religion in general as irrelevant to my life). Being as I live on Cape Cod, a good majority of the people I work with at C3TV are religious and devoutly so, and I do in fact do work on one program of a religious nature. As a result, I find myself with an inside perspective on the matter (a perspective that for the most part involves one ear on a single volume slider and both eyes on a good book, but still), and I have to say, the single-talking-head format just doesn't work. No one's gotten it right yet -- not Mother Angelica, not any number of televangelists, no one. It's the most lethally dull form of programming on television. (Note that Pat Robertson at least has someone to bounce his ravings off of in the studio. He knows better.)

The thing that gets me is that there is a lot of great church culture -- music, architecture, literature. But none of it seems to come out of the modern Christian pop culture, which generally seems to have all the fun surgically removed for the purposes of teaching a Biblical lesson (possible exception: VeggieTales, which I've heard is actually pretty good). And let's face it -- no matter how scintillating a preacher may be, there really isn't much to be seen on a program that's all sermon.

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