Saturday, January 13, 2007

Review of Jay Bakker, One Punk, Under God (#3)

For Dan Myer's post

This episode continues the two main storylines of this series: Jay's relationship with his father and his affirmation of gay relationships.

Jay as public figure. The episode starts with Jay explaining that he is not only a pastor but also a nationwide speaker. This highlights a tension in his career--is he primarily a pastor to a group of people in Revolution Church or is he primarily a public figure in Christianity, with his focus being people nationwide. Of course one can be both, but there is the issue of primacy. As far as I can tell, Jay's father, Jim Bakker, was mostly a national figure, and though Jay has started out as a pastor of a local church, I wonder if over time he'll emphasize speaking to a broader, nationwide audience, as did his father. As different as Jay might want to be than his father, he seems to be increasingly more like him in this regard.

Jay preaching the gay gospel. An early scene has Jay preaching to an African-American church, and all is going well, with plenty of loud amens and affirmations, until Jay explains that he supports gay marriage. He then somewhat scolds the congregation for having been a people who had been persecuted and excluded themselves but not offering acceptance to another excluded group. Wow, did things quiet down in a hurry in that church. While I appreciated Jay's courage in expressing his convictions, this wasn't one of his better moments. It's not clear to me that endorsing the civil rights movement implies a particular theological perspective on the gay issue; furthermore, Jay seems to becoming intolerant of people who have a different interpretation of scripture than he does on this issue.

Jay and Jim. Jay drives to Branson, Missouri to visit with this father, and visit, to be continued next episode, is both touching and revealing. As Jim's assistant explains, Jim is better at books and theology than he is at relationships. Jay, in contrast, is adept and thoughtful at relationships, and the culture clash between them is both funny and horrifying. After Jay's arrival, Jim drives him around town talking about the sites ("here's the new Branson") while Jay clearly wants to immediately connect at a deep level. Jay finally blurts out, "does it bother you that Mom is sick?" Jim, not being able to handle this, soon professes to needing to get back to work.

Eventually the two have a sit-down for a half hour, off camera, to talk about their differences, and they emerge frustrated at having opened more issues than they have resolved. Jim nicely summarized that they needed to talk for several months more. I hope that they find this time, but I'm not optimistic. Think of this as "Field of Dreams" with tele-evangelism rather than baseball.

Amanda, Jay's wife, applies for a pre-medicine program, and she waits till the last moment to mail her application--just catching the FedEx truck in the parking lot. She's ready for grad school if she can procrastinate this well!

Stu Damron, a supervisor of Revolution, is impressive. Clearly he has conservative political and theological views, but he's trying to understand and support Jay.



Dan Myers said...

Jay definitely gets upset when he is preaching and brings up the pro-gay stance. Of course, I guess we should expect it given that the open doors philosophy is the foundation of his ministry and his notion of his theology. I expect that he will continue to experience this kind of conflict because his open view is not shared by many people and he's pretty clear that he is not about to compromise on the issue. I was a little disappointed that the producers of the show didn't show any of after-church reactions from the crowd.

I continue to be dismayed, even depressed(!) by Jay's relationship with his father. They hadn't seen each other in two years and within a few minutes of when Jay arrived, Jim suggested they go to a movie--the least interactive thing you could think of. I hope they are setting us up for some improvement or this thing isn't going to end very well. Between Jay's relationship with his dad, Tammy Faye's cancer, and the struggles of financing his church, he could be headed for a steep fall if something doesn't get better soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for watching and Bradley, thanks for your kind comment about me.