In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Hottest TV Show You Will Never See!

OK - after reading my last post and this one, you may come to the conclusion that I have gone off the deep end. No fear, I'm probably just the same person you have come to know and love...or at least know.

Yesterday, I was walking my dog. As I was walking, I thought about the only television show that I've seen lately. Our roommate is very into Gray's Anatomy. Thus, we end up watching it with her. The plots are pretty good, and they have a lot of complex characters. There is also a good cast ensemble feeling. For those of you who don't know, Gray's Anatomy follows medical students on their first rotation.

That got me to thinking about other potential shows that would follow a similar structure. Students who are trying to learn on-the-job skills while still trying to maintain some semblance of personal life. Then it hit me: The Disciples (or The Call, I'm not sure which yet). This would follow a group of students as they go through seminary.

Brilliant, no?

These students would be at a mid-sized seminary. I'm not sure if it would be better to be ecumenical, or to focus on one particular denomination. If it were one denomination, then it would have to be a mainline denomination that the general public doesn't feel like it understands very well. Lutheran!

So, let's go with Lutheran. Our students are at a seminary, entering their first year. Along with taking Greek, Christology, and Pastoral Care, our students also participate in a weekly conversation with their advisor, called Discipleship. The plotlines would not focus on their classes or their theology, but on their personal lives. At times, our students would like to keep theology out of their personal lives, but they are not successful in doing so.

Among our cast of characters would be:

The 1st years:
Jill: She has a high level of personal piety and tends to be more evangelical than her classmates. While she is still Lutheran, she does not understand why Lutheran worship has to be very dead. She is more of a Biblical literalist. Her social views are quite conservative. She would never drink or do anything that may cause a scandal. She came to seminary because she wants to spread the love of Jesus to everyone. However, she isn't sure why there are so many hoops to jump through in order to be a pastor. She just wants to get out there and do ministry.

Brenda: She is the social justice character. She loves liberation theology and moving the church in a more progressive direction. She came to seminary because she feels that she can affect more change from the pulpit, just like Martin Luther King did. She often clashes with more traditionalists, but she enjoys the debate. She is willing to discard biblical or traditional arguments in order to create a more just world.

Rick: Rick is a former bad boy. He has had problems with addiction in the past, but he has done well in recovery. While in recovery, he discovered religion. The call continued to be stronger for him all the time, and now he finds himself at a seminary, studying to become a pastor. He feels a bit out of place here. He secretly feels that he was at his height during his "bad ass" years, and wants to find a way to relive those while still staying sober. He struggles academically, but can provide excellent pastoral care when he needs to.

Doug: Doug is an older student. After his divorce, he started his life over and realized that he always wanted to be a pastor. He is figuring out how he is going to fit into a seminary where he is older than the average student. He also still grieves his divorce and questions if his divorce taints him from being a good pastor.

Cindy: Cindy has felt that she was called to be a pastor since she was seven years old. Her entire life goal was spent getting to ordination. However, she still has some interpersonal issues to work out with her family before she is able to move forward. She is trying to present herself as a good candidate, but she struggles with her own feelings of self-worth. She believes that once she is a pastor, she will finally be fully herself. Until that point, she is incomplete.

2nd Year Mentor:
Stuart: He's a very attractive fellow who is in his mid- to late 20s. He is very orthodox. A confessional Lutheran. Has his concerns about conversations and practices that are not clearly defined within the Lutheran heritage. Very low on the personal piety (read: he drinks lots of beer and enjoys a healthy dating life). He is not a biblical literalist, but rather views scripture through the lens of Lutheran teachings.

Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Theodore Lindstrom: Professor of New Testament. He holds an advising group with all the above named students. He is very intelligent, and delivers wonderful lectures. However, he is concerned with the level of power that he has over people's future. He doesn't enjoy faculty meetings, but would rather spend his days in research or in front of a class.

I can picture a variety of situations. Imagine our students trying to meet people at a bar:
"So what do you do?"
"Oh, I'm a...graduate student?"
"What are you studying?"
"Ummm...I'm studying at the seminary to be a pastor."
The reactions could be a variety from this point! The ideas are limitless.

I know that this plan is not yet complete. I don't have the token lay student involved. I also don't have any married students. However, this is what I could come up with at the moment.

What do you think? Any feedback? Are these people you know? Would you like to see The Disciples on your local network?


Blogger Closed said...


You forgot two important characters: the closet case and the out person. And perhaps maybe the person on a crusade to cleanse the Church.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

I think it's a cool idea. Pitch it to CBS and they can replace one of their sub-par shows! But then again, if it's going to be a realistic portrayal, the AFA would probably not like it, and thus, ask their ranks to tell people to write letters of condemnation... But, seriously, good idea.

1:55 PM  
Blogger mark said...

i think you're also missing the socially awkward person who feels called to the ministry, perhaps because of a positive experience with a congregation, but everyone else seems to think they lack the gifts to be an effective minister. i knew a couple of those in my time at the seminary. and am hopeful that i wasn't considered one myself!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

Good suggestions, everyone. All the characters you have mentioned are people that I still have floating in my mind. It would be interesting to see the out student start to bring out the closet case.

Mark, in response to your suggestion, I almost wrote this person in. But then I got too fearful that some people I knew would recognize themselves in my description!

I'm going to have to continue developing this.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Chad K said...

This is too fun Ross...I think there are a million characters that you could devise by just melding together a few folks you knew at sem. I think the american public would be fascinated by this under-belly view. Paz

9:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There is a reality show that is somewhat similar. A&E has a show that follows four young men discerning whether they are called to the Roman Catholic priesthood, called "God or the Girl."

Not quite the same, but one of the only realistic things about the ministry (or at least preparation for it) that I've seen on television.

12:50 PM  

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