The Purpose of Life
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The TV cartoon show 'The Simpsons' is a modern day phenomenon, but it's not that hard to see why it has become such a hit and a household name (well, some may disagree with that). I fondly recall watching the earlier series during the 1990's and early noughties, though in more recent years, I have to admit that I no longer watch it. I did enjoy The Simpsons Movie though.

Watching the amazing, yet bland, humorous, yet sad, events that made up the life of this strange, but very human family, you can begin to identify and sympathise with much of what they'd experience.

Looking through the humour and satire, there is much truth there, especially concerning religion, culture and nationality (particularly from the American point of view), and many other things that we humans experience, especially in the weaknesses of the flesh.

I'm sure we can all find something of ourselves in either Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa or even Maggie (well, we were all babies once!), not to mention some of the other characters to be found in Springfield.
One of my favourite characters was Ned Flanders, and his household. Most of their life revolved around the church (which had some great lines on the frequently changing signboard) and the Bible. The interaction between the Flanders and the Simpson households are often hilarious, especially for those who have experienced the modern Christian religion, particularly in America. (Reverend Lovejoy is a revelation too!)

I find I can identify with a little of both families, but the amazing thing is that I sympathise more with the Simpsons! With all their weaknesses and faults, they are essentially living in the freedom of God's grace, unshackled from religious pretence - unlike Ned.

This leads me to one of the most memorable episodes that I've seen - the one where Homer creates his own religion, because he gives up going to church, and then meets God in a dream! I think it's called
Homer the Heretic! Many Christians may think this irreverent (in many respects it is), but the real issue that I see here is that of the heart, for God looks at the heart rather than mere form. If one views this as unkind mockery, then that's trouble, but if it is viewed with affectionate humour that nevertheless reveals some important truth, then I believe that's OK. God is big enough to take it anyhow! Even the Bible at times uses elements of sarcasm when exposing hypocrisy and error!

Anyhow, through the eyes of the Spirit, there's so much honesty and truth in this one episode, it's amazing - and as irreverent as some of it actually is, I still think it's really funny! Here are some of the best quotes.
While Homer's relaxing freely in their warm home (it's snowing), Marge and the kids are freezing in church, having to listen to the reading from Lamentations, and a sermon about Hell! (which quickly warms the kids up in their imaginations about fire). Then they get locked in due to the ice!

Back at home
Homer to Marge
: What's the big deal about going to a building every Sunday...Isn't God everywhere? ... and what if we've picked the wrong religion. Every week we're just making God madder and madder!

Homer's dream
: Thou hast forsaken my church!
Homer: I'm not a bad guy...I work hard and love my kids...So why should I spend half my Sunday learning about how I'm going to Hell!
God: Mmm...You've got a point there.

Then God sits down and has a brief chat with Homer about football.

Homer: You know what I really hate about church. Those boring sermons!
God: I couldn't agree more. That Reverend Lovejoy really displeases me. I think I'll give him a canker sore!
Homer: ...So I figure I should just try to live right and worship you in my own way.
God: It's a deal!

On the 'First Church of Springfield' signboard: Today's Topic: "When Homer met Satan"
There are many other great episodes, too numerous to mention, especially in the earlier series (I generally don't follow it anymore). I also liked the ones that incorporated movies into the plot.

It is true that the show is more for adults than children, and at times it could be quite rude, frivolous and irreverent (the whole point really) - but compared to many other modern shows, it was pretty mild really! Some shows are really pushing the limits these days - in ways that I don't find very humorous at all.

Where do we draw the line?
Hit Play to hear The Simpsons theme
See my archived article Christians and Entertainment for my views on TV & films