Ned Flanders, the next-door neighbor of Homer Simpson in the series, has been described as “one of the best-known evangelicals on the small screen.” During a service at Springfield Community Church, Homer once said of Ned, “If everyone here were like Ned Flanders, there’d be no need for heaven. We’d already be there.” (After including that quotation, I am tempted to stop blogging and just sit here reflecting on its implications. But that is not the reason for this entry, so I will press on.)
When watching televisions programs I am often struck with how most series are void of any mention of religion. Life is portrayed as a “religion-free existence;” no, even worse, a “God-free existence.”
The Simpsons stands in stark contrast to those shows, thanks in part to Ned Flanders. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Mark Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World’s Most Animated Family concludes with these words of tribute to Flanders’ faith:
In the early decades of commercial television, networks shunned prime-time portrayals of religion as part of Americans’ everyday life, largely for fear of offending viewers. The most important contribution of “The Simpsons” to the national conversation may be that it made religion safe for television — thanks to a lovable evangelical named Ned Flanders.
Religion being portrayed as a normal part of everyday life. Imagine that?!
You can read the entire article here.