On Sons, Soaps, and Sermonizing

I’m an addict. They say that realizing – and then verbalizing – that you are one is the first step to recovery. If so, I am taking my first step. In public.

You see, I’ve been living with a dirty little secret.

I find myself getting up early for a fix. By the afternoon, I need another hit. If I’m alone in the evening, I can’t seem to stop myself.

I’m addicted to Sons of Anarchy.

Sue and I have a few shows that we watch together; at the moment, though, they are all on hiatus. So I was looking around for a series to start. I was also home alone for a while, so I was thinking I’d watch something Sue wouldn’t want to see.

I found Sons of Anarchy. 

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s the story of a motorcylce club (NEVER called a gang, by the way). In particular, it’s the story of a dysfunctional family: step-father, son, and mother.

Sons is a train wreck. If you’ve seen it, you might be thinking I maybe shouldn’t be watching. I’m finding it hard to turn away. Too fascinating.

I was talking to Sue about it, one night. As I explained a bit about the show and the plot, she said “Oh. You’re watching a soap opera.”

Was she ever wrong.

This is a story about men beating the crap out of each other. It’s about gun running and drug dealing. And revenge. For example, when Jax’s (the main character) son is kidnapped by the IRA, he and the club go to Belfast for revenge. In the meantime, after nearly having sex with a woman who turns out to be his half sister, Jax discovers that his father had an illicit affair with …

Holy Crap! I’m watching a soap opera!

In the interests of full disclosure, this isn’t the first time I’ve been hooked on soaps. Back in my university days, I was looking for a way to keep from having to study. What I meant to say was that I occaisionaly needed a break from studying.

General Hospital and Another World filled the bill nicely. I kind of got caught up trying to keep things straight: who’s sleeping with who (or whom, to be precise), who’s broke, who just got out of jail. How all the men had such chiseled jawlines and cheekbones. And so on.

Plus, GH had Felicia Jones. Who was a babe.

Anyway, I thought I had given up my addiction decades ago. Now I find myself relentlessly slogging through this series on Netflix.

You may be thinking that a fellow who is a pastor – a peace-loving, Mennonite one, at that – shouldn’t be watching such a violent, drug infested, sexually suggestive show. You may be right. But, as I follow along, I realize that the problems of a motorcycle club aren’t that much different than the ones a church faces.

It’s interesting how both institutions use similar language. For example, the club calls the “council” together. They meet in the “chapel”, and this meeting is called “church”. Many of you may recognize these terms from the spiritually uplifting joys of working on various church committees over the years.

The Sons face many issues – drug running, prostitution, turf wars, a guy kicking over the boss’ motorcycle – that need to be discussed and handled. Likewise, the church also has problems: fewer members, hard economic times, fear of becoming irrelevant, whether or not we need a bulletin. These things must also be discussed and handled. Or swept under the rug. Either way, action (or, I suppose, inaction) results.

Perhaps the reactions are a bit different.

For example, in the motorcycle club, if someone is trying to push his own agenda, he disappears. The boss puts out a “hit” and the individual is never seen again. This is for the good of the club, as they believe that the wishes of the many are more important than the wishes of the individual.

With any luck, the skeleton doesn’t come back to haunt you in Season 2.

In the church, we believe that the bible may frown on such drastic measures. At the very least, it’s a gray area.

I’m not saying that a pastor doesn’t consider this option. Come on, pastors, you know that there is just that second – a blip in time – when you wish you could take out a hit on old Mr Froese. If he brings up the fact that all sacred music must be played only on a harp one more time, maybe it’s time that he started playing one. Permanently.

“Jimmy? Yeah, it’s The Rev. Take out the old man.”

Of course we don’t do it, but …

Anyway, where was I? Right. The church is a lot like a motorcycle club. Hmmm. The analogy might not be quite right. Or it’s more right than I care to think about. Either way, I’ve started taking notes. The church council could maybe learn something. Sure, it’s a show about outlaws. Truth, however, comes in many packages and appears in many different forms. Maybe even in a show about a band of opinionated, self-serving, self-centered misfits.

Or not. The Lord works in mysterious ways, so it’s so hard to keep these things straight.

I guess I’ll keep watching. If only for the church’s sake.

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