Save “Joan of Arcadia”

Rumor has it that one of the best shows on television is headed for the chopping block, and if it happens, TV will be worse for it.
CBS’s “Joan of Arcadia”, currently in its second season, chronicles the experiences of high school student Joan Girardi (played by Amber Tamblyn) and her daily encounters with God. In each episode, God typically gives Joan an assignment that is meant to both carry out His plan and teach Joan a lesson.
Christian critics have zeroed on the fact that the show isn’t a biblically accurate portrayal of God, and therefore not fit for Christian audiences. That’s baloney.
It’s television, folks. There isn’t anything on TV that is biblically accurate (including some of the so-called religious programming). Besides, the point of “Joan of Arcadia” isn’t to teach Scripture, it’s to entertain. And it does so in a well-written, mature manner that requires viewers to think about spiritual issues to get the point of the episode.
Joan’s attitude toward God is a picture-perfect representation of how most people approach God – blaming him when things go wrong, doubting everything He asks, and resisting even the things He offers for our good. Joan’s foot-stomping, eye-rolling, sarcastic questioning every week is in stark contrast to God’s patient guidance towards the task at hand. What’s so refreshing is Joan’s gradual acceptance of each task, even when she doesn’t understand or agree with it. In the end, God usually lets Joan see the bigger picture and how her small actions helped. But sometimes, her constant questioning is met with this response: “See how I’m not answering the why, Joan?” Instead, God asks Joan to trust Him. Sound familiar?
One problem for many Christian viewers is that in each episode, God shows up in various forms – sometimes as an old woman, as a handsome guy on the bus, as a gothic punk rocker, as a child. I’ve heard complaints that those portrayals are an attempt to make God politically correct. But in the first episode of the show, God explained to Joan that He doesn’t appear to her in those forms, because He’s always there. Instead, He lets her Him see in a way that she can understand, and each circumstance lends itself to a different form. The point is that the more Joan listens to and obeys God, the more she recognizes Him, whatever form He takes.
Joan’s encounters with God have also led her family to examine their own faith, to believe in miracles, and to seek God. And even when the show is tackling a particularly difficult topic – marital infidelity, teen sex, lying, cheating, death – it’s done with tact, compassion, restraint, humor and maturity. This is a show you can – and should – watch with your kids and then discuss afterwards. In fact, a non-denominational bible study can be found at http://www.pcusa.org/today/joan/.
“Joan of Arcadia” airs Friday nights on CBS. I urge you to check out a couple of episodes – not just one; get the whole picture before you decide – and if you think “Joan of Arcadia” should stay on the air, contact your local CBS affiliate. Then visit HYPERLINK “http://www.cbs.com” www.cbs.com and click the “feedback” section at the bottom of the webpage to voice your opinion.
When you consider the alternatives on prime time, wouldn’t you rather watch a family drama that gets viewers thinking about God than a sitcom where immorality without consequences is celebrated?

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