This is just to let all of you know that I have been granted an early viewing of the Da Vinci Code movie, and by Thursday night late I intend to post a full movie review and viewer's guide, if pastors and others want to use it next Sunday and the following weeks. Thus far the news flash.
My main reason for writing this post however is that I have just viewed the final episode of my favorite TV show of the last seven years (indeed almost my only TV drama show of the last seven years)--- West Wing. Its consistently high level of drama and dialogue rightly won it numerous Emmies. But while our own nation is floating along on a wing and a prayer, this show reminded us that governing could be done so much better than it has been in recent decades. It gave me hope in our political process that it could still work.
This show made clear that it was possible to have quality television on a major network with excellent scripts and acting, and often scripts that raised important issues about the relationship of politics and religion. Whether or not you agreed with the politics of the Bartlett administration or not was quite beside the point. What you learned was something of the huge moral dilemmas a President faces day after day, and the numerous compromise and compromising decisions one has to make day after day to govern our country. What you also learned is that in a democracy patriotism is not an ideological stance-- one can be a patriot and hold widely divergent views from other patriots.
The level of public discourse in America has gone down dramatically in the last two decades. We have degenerated into shouting matches, and spitting contests, and it has not helped us resolve any issues. This show in its best moments helped us think hard about the profound issues that confront us as a people and as individuals, and regularly the issue of what role religion should play in our democracy came to the fore. I shall sorely miss this show, as it did a better job of stirring up real patriotism and love for our country at its best than much of what passes for honorable rhetoric these days. Would that there were candidates like Arnie Vinnick and Matt Santos that we had to choose from in the next election. A country, it has been said, should be judged at its best, not its worst. Any country that can produce this kind of drama that honors freedom, democracy, and even at times the Bible and Christianity can't be all bad.
God bless America, and God bless producer John Wells and all those who gave us West Wing for the last seven years. May we aspire to better things in 2008.