Thursday, January 18, 2007

Review of Jay Bakker, One Punk, Under God (#4)

This episode focuses on Jay’s relationship with Jim, his father, as Jay and Jim reconcile on air during Jim’s television show. Also, Amanda got accepted to her pre-med program in New York City, and so Jay announced his departure to Revolution.

Who’s reading this post?
First off, Stu Damron, one of the main characters in this series, and current pastor of Revolution in Atlanta, posted a kind comment on my last review. This means that he & others involved in the series might read my reviews, so, let me start off by saying that everyone in episode 4 looked particularly attractive and in good shape.

Life on television. During Jay’s appearance on Jim’s show, Jim said such nice, reconciliatory things, such as what an “awesome man of God” Jay is, and “I love you”, and that Jay is doing better than him. These are the things Jay sought from his father, and somehow Jim was able to express on television what he seemed to have trouble doing earlier in person. Somehow the anonymous audience of television allows parts of Jim to come to life, maybe like telling one’s secrets to a stranger on the bus. The scene was heartwarming, but it also wrapped up one of the driving themes of the show.

High price of grace. At one point, Jim commented that from his own experience, he expected Jay to pay a high price for preaching grace. Unfortunately Jim did not elaborate, but somehow this feels like a very biblical, albeit ironic, principle—paying a price for grace. This certainly happened in the life of Jesus. This makes me wonder, though, why? Any thoughts?

Haphazard Jay
. An on-going theme in the series, at least for me, is that of Jay’s role with the church, both Revolution and the broader church in the U.S. Is he a local pastor or a national figure? Obviously some people are both, such as Rick Warren, but they often become known because of their success with their local church.

As such, I found it informative when one of the Revolution members spoke appreciatively of Jay’s haphazard humanity. In just the little time this series has covered his life, he has launched himself into a new direction theologically (regarding the gay issue), and he is now moving to a new city. Jay’s willingness to try new experiences and interact with new people makes him interesting to watch and easy to learn from, but I don’t know that it fits with the job requirements of being a pastor—at least a head pastor. Likewise, Stu and one of the staff people seemed to have a much better sense than Jay of the organizational details of Revolution.

At some point, I would expect Revolution to have to redefine Jay’s role. From what little I’ve seen in these four episodes, he doesn’t seem to have the administration gifts typically required of a lead pastor, and yet he embodies the spirit of Revolution, and he’s probably their most important resource right now. Maybe a teaching pastor? Maybe a pastor-at-large?

Reticent Jay.
I got a laugh out of the discussion between Jay and Stu about the need to raise money. Stu suggested that, with the loss of their major donor, that Jay start teaching about the importance of giving money. Jay responded that he was uncomfortable doing that (though he seemed to think it was a good idea). Here’s Jay, who will, out of conviction, take up any theological topic, no matter how controversial, with anyone being almost shy about talking with money. This is the opposite of many pastors, and it shows the money-related trauma he witnessed in his parents’ ministry.

Safe fish. A touching scene had Jay and Stu trout fishing together, and as I watched Jay smoking a cigar, asking Stu how to cast, I kept thinking that those are some very safe fish in that river.


1 comment:

Dan Myers said...

There's so much to talk about in these shows, its hard to cover it all! I wanted to write about the comments Jim made after the television taping too, but I thought my post was getting too long. So, I'll just steal some space from Brad!

It's always a little hard to interpret bits and pieces from these kinds of shows, because as Brad and I have both mentioned, the way they decide to cut things can really make them look different. Nevertheless, when I was watching Jim say the things Brad mentions here in the "High price of grace" section, I couldn't help thinking, "Wow, he may not want to Jay to talk about the gay issue on his TV show for various reasons, but he really does support what Jay is doing." He's really on board with the ultimate grace notion and he goes about as far as he can in supporting Jay's approach without slapping down any quotes that will get him in trouble with his own world of ministry.

Somewhere in there he says, "He practices my message of love, and total love, and total fogiveness and total restoration much better than I do." And later, "Jamie is what I should be, but cannot be."

I wonder, will Jay ultimately produce some kinds of change in his dad? How will Jay's relationship with his dad continue to develop--and ultimately influence their orientations toward their own ministries. We won't find out in two more episodes! But maybe there'll be a season two....