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January 20, 2014
Life on Planet Kathy
Television from On High
by Kathryn H. Kidd

I got a letter from the people last month. It is only fitting that I get letters from them, considering that I, alone, am keeping the entire Amazon empire afloat. Amazon shouldn’t just be sending me letters; it should be sending me bonbons. Good-looking he-men from Amazon should be rubbing my neck and fluffing my pillows, for all the business I give the corporation.

But I digress. The letter I got from Amazon was not an invitation for Fluffy and me to spend a month at a private island off Costa Rica, at their expense. Instead it was a paltry “reminder” of something I did not know, which is that because I was an Amazon Prime member, I am also eligible for free downloads of television shows and movies. I had become a Prime member just to save money on postage, but I guess there are other benefits I had not henceforth used.

The first thing I did was to throw the letter in the trash. Even though many of our friends virtuously tell us they have thrown their televisions away, Fluffy and I are so hooked to our TiVo that we might as well have plugs protruding from our fluffy bunny tails. Indeed, our family motto is, “If it moves…. [we watch it]”

This is just a slight exaggeration. We do not watch anything starring Honey Boo Boo, brides, gypsies, plural wives, or little people, which means there is not much we watch on TLC. But for the most part, we are embarrassed about how much television we watch already. When I saw the letter from Amazon, the first thing I thought was that the last thing we need is to watch more television than we already do.

Then I realized that Amazon was trying to get us to watch quality television. It was trying to get us to watch shows from the BBC. It was trying to get us to watch “Duck Dynasty.” After some heavy reconsideration, I pulled the letter out of the trash and gave it to Fluffy.

I figured that Fluffy could do the technical work to get us hooked up, and I was right. Soon we were on our way to watching even more television than we already did. We had to start out watching “Sherlock” because watching shows produced in Britain would prove how cultured we are. (It helped that we quickly became as fascinated with the series as our friends said we would be.)

Then we had to watch at least a little of “Duck Dynasty,” just to see what all the hoopla was about. We were impressed enough with it that I wrote a whole column about it. Then I accidentally saved this column over it and lost it forever, or at least until Fluffy undeleted it for me. Good old Coma Brain. Sometimes I have the cognitive powers of a potato chip.

Finally, though, we settled on a show we had seen many years ago — “Quantum Leap.” Fluffy had never seen the two-hour pilot and I had forgotten it, so we settled down with some popcorn and decided to enjoy ourselves.

We were stunned. God was there. I don’t mean that there was an unseen spiritual presence as we watched the television show. What I mean was that God was referred to throughout the show as though the characters believed in Him.

Furthermore, one of the theories why Sam, the main character in “Quantum Leap,” is unable to find his way home is that he is on a mission from God. No sooner does Sam correct a cosmic injustice than he leaps again into another time and place with a new mission.

And God Himself even makes an appearance in the show’s last episode, playing the role of a Pennsylvania bartender whose real identity becomes more apparent as the show progresses.

How many times recently have you seen God on series television? Never — that’s how many. But throughout “Quantum Leap,” even before His appearance in the final episode, God is referred to as God — not by backwoods rednecks like the “Duck Dynasty” people, but by scientists who should know better. What a refreshing thing to see!

Watching the few episodes of “Quantum Leap” that we have watched has made me sad for the time we live in. Of course, I doubt that God would want to make an appearance on anything starring Honey Boo Boo. But He might enjoy an occasional cameo on a nature show, or maybe a cooking show. Who knows? He might show up on “The Amazing Race,” if only somebody bothered to invite Him.

It hasn’t been that long since “Quantum Leap” appeared in March of 1989, but the world has changed immeasurably since those days. These days it’s fashionable to make fun of people who suck the brains out of squirrels (cooked ones, thank goodness) and pray to God every night. People who believe that God actually exists are held up as objects of ridicule.

Furthermore, on those rare occasions where spirituality is included on our screens, it usually involves some kind of nebulous supreme force designed to offend no one. Think of “the force” in the Star Wars movies or the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day who has to keep reliving the same day until he gets it right. These things just happen, with nary a God anywhere to get the credit.

This kind of spiritual smoke-and-mirrors may be entertaining (I really liked Groundhog Day), but I want God to get the credit, even in fictional creations, and I think He does too. And I really, really get annoyed when God-fearing people are mocked by the elite of Hollywood just because they believe in Him.

The “Duck Dynasty” situation as foisted upon us by Hollywood reminds me of this verse from the Book of Mormon, when Moroni said to God that people would make fun of the Book of Mormon once they read it (and Moroni hadn’t even seen the musical!). When Moroni said that, God had a simple answer for him:

Fools mock, but they shall mourn. (Ether 12:26)

I believe that time will show that the squirrel-eaters are closer to eternal truth than all the Hollywood executives who have taken God out of movies and TV and have made His name a dirty word. I wonder how soon it will be before the Hollywood types realize the squirrel-eaters are not worthy of ridicule, but really had it right all along.

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