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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Previously on 24

Any 24 watchers out there? Fox is absolutely crucifying the competition and who would have ever thought it from their humble beginnings?

So I'm thinking what if we learned to read and teach the Gospel in narrative sequence instead of in "chicken soup for the soul" methodology. Don't you appreciate the prelude now to television's best stories. Previously on Alias (jumped the shark) or Previously on Lost or Previously on The Apprentice. They do an amazing job of clipping and narrating the essential scenes and plotlines in a 90 second presentation such that a "regular" or a complete "newcomer" can enter into the drama. I've never watched 24 until now-- SEASON 5, and I'm totally hooked. And now I'm looking forward to the "off-season" when I can go back and rent Seasons 1-4 to really get all the interrelationships and dynamics of the plot. There's a sense in which I (a 24 Gentile) "get it" coming in on season 5, but not nearly as clearly as say my friend, Kevin Henson (a true 24 Jew), (who first "shared" the 24 "good news" with me back in season 1). I suspect I will much more clearly understand the "Jack Bauer death-and-resurrection thing" which seems a bit cryptic to me now.

Now consider this whole analogy with respect to the Bible. Television understands the crucial nature of "shared memory" much better than most preachers. Most sermons we hear tend toward shucking away the "story" in order to get to the "self-help" or "spiritual-help." The narrative becomes more like the wrapping on a package that is torn away and discarded to get to "the point(s)." Harry Emerson Fosdick, one of the celebrated preachers of the 20th century, once said "People don't come to church much to hear what happened to the Jebusites." My own preaching professor, a master narrative preacher, cited Fosdick in a surprising effort to say "get to the point." The Epiphany dawns on me more and more every day: THE STORY IS THE POINT. I know this is getting longer than I intended, but what I am trying to say is that GETTING IMMERSED IN THE TRUE STORY IS THE POINT. At this moment I struggle to remember a single "point" any preacher has ever preached---even my own. The question is can I remember the Story in any significant way. You see, when our memory is loaded with the Story our lives and communities become pregnant with imaginative "applications." Not applications as moralistic behavior management techniques but bold faith-acting-in-love initiatives that cause us to see God. I'd be interested in seeing some comments on how this connects in your minds out there?

Let me press this analogy a bit more with an illustration. Today is MARDI GRAS-- Fat Tuesday-- the final Feast of the Epiphany. Today is the eve of a new season of "24." (Think of "24" like 7 days of creation-- only it's the New Creation being enacted by the Word Made Flesh.) This is Season #6-- some would say the final season. The Season Premiere airs tomorrow: Ash Wednesday. So how would we do

Previously on 24. . . . . . .

I picture scenes of demonstrative miracles, compassionate, intimate interactions, mysterious sound-bytes of wisdom, capped off with the immensity of the mystery and sensuality and intimacy of the transfiguration, but the "previously" trailer would end with Jesus facing his disciples with an expression of serious joy, saying:

34Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. 35Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. 36What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? 37What could you ever trade your soul for?

Here we go. . . . .
posted by John David Walt | at 2/28/2006 08:07:00 AM



Blogger Raegan said...

I LOVE 24!! We watch it every week on campus. That Jack Bauer is just great, a little out of control but always working toward the greater good (or at least what he thinks is greater). Just wait till you see the other seasons, they are awesome and highly addicting.

10:31 AM EST  
Blogger Omar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:07 PM EST  
Blogger Omar said...

Another angle to look at: Many preachers and listeners don't want to hear what they have already heard before. "Give us something new! I've heard this one!"

But consider this: Jenn and I have been tracking through the seasons of "Friends" and every episode is titled, "The One Where ________". They understand that we have heard this story before, and we can identify it easily, and then WE WATCH IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. "Oh I love that episode. This one is my favorite... gets better every time."

So how come we can allow for television (or a book or a song) but not THE Story?

6:08 PM EST  
Blogger Katie said...

"At this moment I struggle to remember a single "point" any preacher has ever preached---even my own."

Ironicalloy, the sermon I remember most from seminary was one of yours about Blue Scadooing into the story of Christ. Proves your point that we are drawn to the story. I've been thankful for what I learned from that sermon and from the many times I heard about our need to be a part of the Story in my time at Asbury. I try and remember that as I teach to a generation that is so bombarded with storylines and entertainment. They're looking for a story that's True and that they can belong to- but they have to be led to jump into the picture and experience the story.
Thanks for that reminder JD!

8:07 AM EST  
Blogger Peter said...

I believe in Bauer.

4:51 PM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

If I could find someone who could mimic Keifer's voice, I'd have a sermon lead-in: "previously in Community...." the service I preach at.
I'm sorry JD that you have just entered the 24 zone, but there's so much back story in the previous seasons!
I want Jack Bauer's cellphone, as it works everywhere and never drops a call.

Jack isn't really a human man, as he never has to go to the bathroom....and Jack will be played by no man.

CTU is the epicenter of heart disease caused by high blood pressure in the entire United States, according to the CDC.

President Palmer has reincarnated as a Delta Force leader on The Unit, on another network...just not the same.

12:18 PM EST  

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