September 13th, 2012 by Kristi Stephens
NP and I are faithful watchers of NBC’s “Parenthood.” It’s beautifully written, and although it is definitely not theologically or morally on target, we enjoy the poignant portraits of family life they so artfully create.
I always read books and watch TV and movies looking for the underlying worldview. What message is being woven throughout? What is the belief system that this text/dialogue/ portrayal of life grows out of? Everyone has a worldview. Every author, screenwriter, producer has a worldview. I think that for Christians to thoughtfully engage the world around us, we must be students of culture and look for those worldview messages we constantly interact with.
So, as a culture-studier, I’ve been fascinated with Parenthood on another level, as well. Ever since we first began watching the series it’s been so obvious that the Braverman family has no set belief system other than the worship of their own family. Everything revolves around the family. One’s whole identity is bound up with the family. Rightness and wrongness of choices is decided based upon their effects on the family. You can believe what you want, do what feels good to you – just don’t skip family dinner.
Last night we watched the first episode of the season. One of the subplots of the episode is that adult son Crosby Braverman is on quest to define his beliefs, spurred on by a challenge from his mother-in-law and resulting conversations with his wife. It was fascinating to me as the family-idolatry of the show, having operated under the surface for so long, was overtly verbalized.
Mother Camille Braverman stated to her son (regarding the Braverman parents’ “religious journey”), “We both realized that we were more invested in this world, and if god exists at all it’s right here in our family, in this house.”
Later, Crosby sits down with his young son and endeavors to explain his beliefs and how they differ from what the boy was taught by his grandmother.
“Well, I believe in you. You’re my number one guy. I believe in your mom, and in all of our family – my mom and dad, brothers and sisters… and sometimes, on a night like tonight, sitting under the stars with my son, eating delicious cookies, I think, “You know, I’m pretty blessed. By something.”
The tricky thing about this idolatry of family is that it sounds somewhat appealing to us. As believers in Christ we rightly treasure the family. Marriage was established by God. Families were established by God. Families matter! But our families are not God.
Our homes matter. But our homes are not God.
Marriage matters because it was created by Him, reflects Him, honors Him,.
Our homes matter because they are spaces where we raise our children to honor Him, glorify Him in our work, serve our families and those we welcome in and share our lives with.
Our choices matter, not just because they should honor and uplift the family – our choices should honor and uplift the Lord. And sometimes, family will not approve.
We should be students of culture. And make no mistake – our culture is studying us. What will they see portrayed in the story of our lives?
- What is the underlying message that subtly shows itself through our actions and words and choices?
- Is God on the throne in our hearts? Is He the ultimate focus of our families?
- …or is family the focus, and our theology merely plays a supporting role in making us who we are? Is it really all about us?
Everybody has a worldview. What’s yours?