CBS. Monday, February 26, 9:30-10:00 (EDT)
Our star rating (1-5): 4.5
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow;
it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The fictionalized TV series is based on Esquire Magazine writer A.J. Jacobs’ bestselling book about the impact of the Bible, The Year of Living Biblically. The series follows the misadventures of Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson), a critic at a New York City publication. He is married to Leslie, a pregnant medical technician.
Following a series of setbacks that includes the death of his best friend, Chip decides to set his life straight. Part of this decision is occasioned by the dead friend’s mother after the funeral telling Chip and his wife Leslie (Lindsey Kraft) that her wayward son is not in “a better place,” that because he stopped going to church, “his area code is 666”—and, when Chip says he too no longer attends, she says she is sure he (Chip) will see him again. This launches Chip into a funk, from which he is extracted when his wife returns from the medical clinic where she works to tell him she needs him now more than ever—she is pregnant. He promises her he will improve so he will become a worthy father. At a book store he adds to his tall stack of self-improvement books a Bible that he has pulled from the shelves. He almost puts it back but decides to buy it anyway—a decision that will change his life.
The next day Leslie is somewhat surprised by his announcement that after reading in the Bible the previous night, he has decided to live its commandments literally for the 9 months of her pregnancy. The daughter of a flaming atheistic mother, she raises some mild objections, but agrees, as long as it does not spoil her fun. He assures her that it will improve their marriage.
The following questions can be used in a group discussion, or a clergyman or teacher might find them as helpful in identifying incidents or issues for use in a sermon or lesson:
Relevant Scriptures: Deuteronomy 20:10; 22:11; John 8:1-11; Matthew 17:2
- What must Chip been like before the death of his friend? Do you know people like him who are too busy to give any thought to the Bible or God? Has the death of someone or another hard knock caused you to think about or turn to the Bible or God?
- What did you think of the remark of the mother of the deceased–that she assumes her son is going to hell—or that Chip is headed that way too? What must be her view of God? Do you think this is pretty wide-spread? Where have you heard people remark, “I must have done something bad, everything has gone badly this week,” or just the opposite? How widespread do you think is the view of a vindictive God among TV evangelists?
- What seems to be, then, the motive for Chip to re-order his life? Fear? How do we see this change in the episode—for example, what does he tell Leslie that his decision might do for their marriage?
- How do we see that Chip has committed to changing his life when he shows up at work? What is he wearing? (White suit) What has he brought, which a co-worker earlier had accused him of never doing? (Not one, but TWO boxes of donuts) How does his conversation with his friend Vince also show he is committed to change? (i.e., does Chip join in Vince’s dissing of their obnoxious co-worker Gary?)
- What do you think of Father Gene’s reaction to his decision at church the next day? What about his pointing out that Chip is already breaking a commandment by wearing clothing of mixed cloths?
- How is Fr. Gene’s anagram “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” a good description of half of the Bible, the half that often gets lost in the preaching of those who see the Bible only as a one-way ticket Heaven? (Check out all the prophetic books—though Pie-in-the-sky preachers do use the Torah passages pertaining to homosexuality.)
- What does Rabbi Gill add to the story? How is his Jewish faith often more grounded in everyday life than those Christians who focus on getting to Heaven?
- What do you think of the stoning incident in the restaurant? Funny, yet relevant to our time? What about the result of it? (The adulterous co-worker coming to his senses by breaking off his affair.)
Note: My intention was to post similar guides for all 12 of the episodes for groups to discuss them and/or for leaders to use as illustrative material, but CBS would not grant access to the programs.