My Favorite Pastors in TV & Film

Too often, clergy in fictional media are portrayed as either demonic, judgmental hypocrites or sincere, mostly nice, but still basically useless.  Hardly ever are we played as real, full human beings in our own right, complete with hopes and flaws.  Here are a few that shatter such misconceptions:

Shepherd-Book-WP-firefly-3087444-1152-864Shepherd BookFirefly, Serenity

Book: River, you don’t fix the Bible.
River: It’s broken. It doesn’t make sense.
Book: It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.

Dr. ChenFrank Lee Bukowski (a.k.a. Dr. Chen) – Eli Stone

Not technically a member of the clergy, but I included him anyway because Eli’s acupuncturist doubles as his spiritual advisor.

Eli Stone: But I don’t believe in God.
Dr. Frank Chen: Sure you do. You believe in right and wrong! You believe in justice and fairness! You believe in love! All those things are God!  And that… [points to sunset] that’s God too.”

stiller nortonFr. Brian Finn & Rabbi Jake SchramKeeping the Faith

The truth is, I don’t really learn that much about your faith by asking questions like that… because those aren’t really questions about faith, those are questions about religion. And it’s very important to understand the difference between religion and faith. Because faith is not about having the right answers. Faith is a feeling. Faith is a hunch, really. It’s a hunch that there is something bigger connecting it all… connecting us all together. And that feeling, that hunch, is God. And coming here tonight, on your Sunday evening… to connect with that feeling, that is an act of faith.

sewellRev. Marilyn SewellRaw Faith

This one almost didn’t make the list since she’s a real person, but the documentary on her was so amazing, I just had to include it!

“There’s a lot of beauty in this world… and I expect that you’ll be a big part of it.”

The_Godparent_Trap_19Father MikeThe New Normal

I should confess that I don’t really follow this show, but my wife does and she made me sit through this episode just to see this scene.  It was worth it.

“I never bought that Jesus-is-a-blissed-out-hippie crap. The man was pissed off.” He was “the Chuck Norris of his day,” and to turn the other cheek was “an act of defiance. It meant: I will see your insult and raise you a ‘suck it!'” Jesus “saw hypocrisy and injustice and said ‘Seriously? You guys are idiots. This has got to change!'”

vedek-bareil_786_posterVedek Bareil AntosStar Trek: Deep Space Nine

Major Kira: I’m useless here.
Vedek Bareil: So?
Major Kira: So? I… I need to feel useful.
Vedek Bareil: It might be interesting to explore ‘useless’ for a while – see how it feels.

vicar_of_dibley_geraldine_grangerRev. Geraldine Granger The Vicar of Dibley

Anyone who has ever had to sit through a parish council, session, or church board meeting will laugh at this show.

Geraldine: You were expecting a bloke; beard, Bible, bad breath.
David Horton: Yes, that sort of thing.
Geraldine: Yeah. And instead you got a babe with a bob-cut and a magnificent bosom.

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Pastors in TV & Film

  1. I have to nominate Father Mulcahy of MASH for this list. I realise he could be on the “useless” list – but after a few episodes of watching, you realise there is something else going on:

    “B.J.: You know, Father, the first time I’ve met you, I thought there’s this nice decent guy, kind of sweet and gentle, you know? How’s he ever gonna last out here? I got to tell you, you’re just about the toughest bird I know.
    “Father Mulcahy: Well, I’m certainly a lot luckier than some of the people we’ve seen come through here. ”

    Having said that – I take your point there are few real portraits of clergy in film or TV.

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