Last night we recorded the memorial episode of “Glee” that focused on the death of Cory Monteith and his on-screen character Finn Hudson. I watched it this morning. Here are my reactions:
I had wondered how they were going to explain his cause of death. Thankfully, and wisely, they chose to leave it unexplained. Rather, his stepbrother Kurt simply said that it didn’t really matter how it died. And I agreed with him. Explaining it away would have taken the impact of the story away.
And impact it did have. I called my wife on her way to work and told her what she had worried about, that she would end up crying all the way through the episode. I had hoped that there would have been at least one upbeat song to celebrate his life, but the producers instead chose maudlin song after depressing song to emphasize how much the characters of Glee were in mourning.
One other thing bothered me about the episode. Several characters had, over the seasons, expressed their belief in God. But no one stepped up and gave any positive hope in the episode of a life after death. Instead, every reference was that they would never, ever see him again. That he only existed as a voice in their heads. Santana came the closest to references to heaven when she jokingly said he was in heaven with “fat Elvis, eating baby backed ribs.”
I believe writers of Glee are at a disadvantage. I applaud their continuing effort to promote the little guy, the oddball, the minority. But over the seasons that has turned into a campaign more specifically to promote equality of people with different sexual orientations, rather than every student who feels like he or she is on the outside. Because of their liberal orientation, I suspect that it is hard for them to write an episode like this that mentions God seriously, or offers any hope for those who lose a loved one.
And this episode was hopeless, in the sense that it was without hope. There were no words of comfort, rather just the idea that all of us who survive have to continue on without our loved one.
I am glad that I don’t believe that way. Being a Christian, being someone who believes in God and heaven and a hereafter gives me courage to face my life–and what comes after it.
When I was in my doctoral studies, I had a mentor who purposely picked books that challenged my thinking. I remember reading one author who wrote: “Let’s face it. No intelligent, thinking person really believes that God exists.” That comment rankled me, and I wrote in my report: “The author doesn’t take into consideration that the vast majority (I think it is around 80% in the U.S.) believe in God. Could that many people be misguided?
For me, Christianity goes well beyond believing that someday I will go to heaven. Being a Christian is the focal point of my life, and gives me direction and purpose. As I told a class just a few days ago, even if there were no heaven, or life after death, it would be worth it. Because having a purpose makes it all worthwhile.
I feel sorry for the writers of Glee. I feel sad for Cory Monteith. But I suspect that Glee episodes will be winding down, now that one of their best characters is gone, and the original purpose of the show–celebrating the oddball–had diminished into a single political statement.