Daily Archives: May 26, 2008

A clue in the Mystery of _The Simpsons_

There have been many articles written over the years regarding the favorable treatment of religion on The Simpsons. There is even a book called The Gospel According to the Simpsons, dealing with the show’s religious themes. Religion played highly in the recent movie.

Creator Matt Groening has pointed out in several interviews that The Simpsons are just about the only TV family left that is depicted going to church every Sunday.

All in all, while he’s supposed to be Homer Simpson’s antagonist, Ned Flanders, the devout neighbor, is depicted mostly in a favorable manner. I’m particularly fond of when movie-mania hits Springfield in “A Star is Burns,” and the Flanders try to shoot a Biblical epic, with Todd as baby Moses. The basket gets caught in a stream, and Ned shouts, “Flanders to God! Flanders to God! Get off you cloud and save my Todd!”

Then, in “Bart the Lover,” when Ned is trying to figure out where one of his sons has picked up a “potty mouth” (the answer is hearing Homer next door), he asks Maude about his son’s TV viewing. “Well, he used to watch Davey and Goliath, but he thought the idea of a talking dog was blasphemous.”

Catholicism is usually mentioned in a manner that, if mocking, tends to mock liberal Catholicism.

For example, there’s the infamous “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” Super Bowl episode from 1999. The episode features a fake Super Bowl ad where a guy pulls up to a small nondescript building for a drive-through Communion served by women in skimpy outfits, and a voiceover says, “The Catholic Church: We’ve Made a Few Changes.” Obviously, this is making fun of *liberal* Catholcism, but Bill Donohue inexplicably took umbrage, and Fox censored reruns of the episode.
Then there’s the episode “Little Girl in the Big Ten” where Lisa gets vision of John F. Kennedy–a vision which depicts him lying several times–and, at the end of their conversation, says, “See you in Heaven!” And Kennedy replies, “Uhh . . . Heaven?” He starts sweating, grabs his collar nervously, a hole opens in the floor, and he’s consumed in flames.

Then there’s “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star,” a 2005 episode delayed because of John Paul II’s death, for fear of a Catholic League protest. Homer and Bart convert to Catholicism. The episode is highly favorable of Catholicism in contrast to Protestantism, although it ends with a call for religions to “just get along.”

Then there was a statement by Fr. Mikhail Prokopenko, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, praising the Simpsons for being favorable to Christianity.

Wikipedia has an entry on “Religion in The Simpsons

Well, I recently discovered that Luis Escobar, one of the Simpsons animators, is a conservative Catholic and maintains a really cool blog, dealing with his career, pop culture, and religion. He posts original cartoons dealing with pop culture issues and Catholicism. I used one of his cartoons in a recent post. It’s really worth a look.

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