Grilled Cheesus…

Ready-made just for my blog comes along an episode of Glee called, “Grilled Cheesus.”  It begins with a young man named, Finn, discovering that his grilled cheese sandwhich has the face of Christ toasted onto the surface.

There are probably a billion different directions that I could take to start to dissect this episode from a faith perspective… especially the idea of prayer being a magical incantation that gets us all of the things we have ever wanted.
But the storyline that drew me in and rocked me professionally was that of Sue Sylvester.  When Sue gets all uppity about faith being brought into a public place, you begin to think, alright – this is a typical Sue rant.

However, when she is confronted by the school guidance counselor, Sue responds back honestly and openly.  You get the feeling that she is truly baring her soul and not just making up some wildly crazy and insane story to disturb everyone around her.  Our fearless antagonist proclaims that she once had faith… and that she has always looked upon her big sister with eyes of wonder.  But as Sue began to grow older, she started to recognize that others did not see her big sister with the same love and adoration she did.  They saw her as a person with disability, a person who was less than, and treated her as such.  Sue’s heart was broken over the way that her big sister was treated and she prayed and prayed to God that her big sister might get better.  When God failed to answer – Sue gave up on God.

Sue and Jean – from The Yeti Online

I think this is a common theme in many stories of those who have left the faith.  When someone we deeply love is hurting… when we are hurting… we pray for God’s deliverance.  We pray that God would take away the pain and would bring justice to those who have been wronged.  And we pray and we pray and it seems like there is no answer.  The world is still broken, our loved ones are still sick, death comes, the mean guy wins the lottery… where is our salvation?

We believe God has failed us… and so we turn our backs upon God.

What I loved about how Glee handled this storyline comes in the scene between Sue and her big sister, Jean. It comes across much better when you can see Sue react to her sister’s words.  You can watch the scene here.

Sue: Do you believe in God, Jeannie?

Jean: Do you?

Sue: No, I don’t

Jean: Why not?

Sue: (explains how God never answered her prayers for her sister to be like the other kids)

Jean: God never makes mistakes. That’s what I believe. Want me to pray for you, Sue?

Sue: Yeah, that would be nice.

In four words, Glee disrupts the more traditional understandings of disability as brokenness.  Jean looks upon her life, not with eyes that see a problem, but with eyes that are thankful for who God has made her to be.  In four words, Jean helps her sister realize that she is not sick, she is special.  In four words, this episode challenges us to think differently about how we see the “less fortunate” of this world – to rethink even how we might characterize those who are not the same as us.

I don’t want to say that there are not real problems of poverty and disease and sickness.  There are many broken and hurting people in this world.  But there are also just as many opportunities to experience blessing and abundant life and joy and hope amongst the lives of those who we might think have gotten the short end of the stick.  And it is sometimes in the darkest corners of our lives and in the world, that we see the hope and the light of Christ shining the brightest.

1 Comment

  • John W

    January 20, 2011 at 8:37 am Reply

    I love that scene too. It really challenges the traditional Protestant Work Ethic view that if you're well off God has blessed you and if you're not its because God has abandoned you or you are not one of the predestined depending on the particular brand of protestantism. Too many People don't understand that suffering can be and often is a blessing in disguise. God promises that if you follow him you will have life more abundant, and life includes the ups and the downs, sorrows and joys, etc.

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