Confession Time: I am fully immersed in fall TV. Ok, not fully, but I do have a short list that I am DVR’ing and keeping up with when I’m at the gym or making dinner, or staying up too late just to say I had some “me” time….even though I know I should be sleeping (and all the moms said AMEN!).
I digress, sorry…
One of the shows I started watching is Dick Wolf’s new show, FBI. I started watching the show initially because the main female role is played by the actress I grew to like when I watched Rookie Blue eons ago, Missy Peregrym – but as I kept watching, I got hooked, and now it’s in the rotation for the season.
Anyhoo, Missy’s partner, O.A. Zidan, is played by Zeeko Zaki, an Egyptian-American actor. Now, I like both the actor and the character – Zaki portrays his character well – he is believably charismatic, professional, loyal to his partner, and as a plus, he is a little bit knock-kneed, which endeared me to him immediately because he walks a little goofy, just like me!
When he was interviewed about the role, Zaki said that he thought it was a great opportunity to change the perception of Arab-Americans and Muslims in America, and that he was excited to have an opportunity to play a “good guy” who is upholding justice and protecting America, rather than another terrorist or “bad guy”.
It’s true — Zidan is portrayed as an upstanding and professional character full of discipline who holds tight to his Muslim values. He is shown openly reciting passages from the Koran, and, in one episode, using it to get traction with one of the suspects he is questioning. His coworkers seem understanding and respectful of his beliefs and he seems to have open dialogue with them about the difficulties of being a professional Muslim man in NYC.
I agree that we need to change the climate of this country and be better about respecting different cultures and what they contribute to our nation as a whole. We must be more tolerant of different groups, but I know that is a challenge because of the despicable actions of a few. I think that the show is taking a bold move in their casting choice, as well as the character he portrays, and I like it. I have no problem with the male lead being a Muslim character, but it did get me thinking the more I watched it.
My question to you is this: Why do we never see characters on shows like that that are portrayed as strong Christians? Why are the lead men never strong men of Christian faith, standing tall with their Bibles in hand, and being supported unquestioningly by their coworkers? Why are the lead women never morally upright women who refuse to live life by the world’s standards, instead speaking the truth of the gospel and being respected by those around them?
Christians in pop culture, television and movies are portrayed as complete nut jobs, spouting off ridiculous things, judging and basically being holier-than-thou. You will hardly ever see a character reciting the Bible (correctly) in a show or movie, without it being intended as derisive and ironic. The popular opinion is that Christians are Bible-thumping, judgemental lunatics with no place in modern society. I’m sure you know the people that I mean, you’ve seen them in your favorite shows – Pat MacDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond, Shirley Bennet on Community, Marcia Langman on Parks and Recreation, and Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory came to my mind just as a few examples.
Many people have had poor experiences with the church, and so Christians all get a bad rap as being hypocritical or judgmental. People don’t like being told what to do, and so they mock the Bible. People don’t understand spiritual matters and so they poke fun at them. But, Jesus knew it would be this way — He said “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 ) and also “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me” (John 5:43).
Why does Christianity take such a beating? It’s because Jesus said He is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Satan knows that Jesus is the true way, and so will take every opportunity to discredit His truth, and mock His name in any way possible. He will take that first laugh, and make it grow until Christianity, faithful Christians and the Bible are a laughingstock in this country and have no credibility. No one will look twice at a faith or a tradition that is made out to be a joke!
We contribute to the success of that by shrinking away from sharing our beliefs boldly because we are afraid of what others will think, and the laughter that may come. We don’t bring our Jesus into our classrooms, our offices or our communities because we have Him firmly contained in our “church box”, to bring Him out just on Sundays where people won’t care. We quietly laugh along with everyone when that church scene comes up on our favorite sitcom. We don’t offer up any examples of real Christianity to offset the pop culture version of our faith.
We need to make it the norm for Christians to be honestly represented in our culture. We need to bring Biblical truth, grace and humility to the table to combat the misrepresentations of hypocrisy and judgement. We need to make integrity and faith the norm again and change the percecption of Christians in this nation. WE will always face opposition because God said it would be so, but we can quietly, calmly and peacefully make the truth of our faith be known. Be bold. Speak up.
Jesus said that if we deny Him in front of people, He will deny us in front of His Father in heaven – I don’t know about you, but that is reason enough for me to remember to get real with people about my faith and what it really is. I would be lying if I said it came easy to me, but I am wanting more and more to share it with those around me — maybe we too can start to change the perception of Christianity in our country, one relationship at a time.