Monday, February 26, 2007

The Request Line

We had a first this weekend for "Redeeming Prufrock": a reader request. Yours truly encourages requests, as it ensures that the topic will possess interest for at least one person. Plus, requests put a big ol' stiff arm in the face of the ever-pursuing Writer's Block - at least for another day.

The caller asked for a post concerning last week's episode of "Grey's A," specifically its depiction of the afterlife. Under normal circumstances, I would have posted about this Friday sans need of request, given that "The A" stands as the only show I consistently watch and enjoy. However, I had an epic tennis match Friday afternoon pitting my roomie Nate and I versus a friend and his girlfriend (we won 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(7-1), by the way).

Beyond inconvenience though, I just had very few thoughts on the episode's portrayal of the afterlife. It was bizarre and seemed to lack authority from anywhere that I could tell. As the requester noted, she/he sat all episode as if watching a bad '80's sci-fi flick waiting for Grey's reincarnation. The episode left me speechless and thoughtless. However, I think this response is noteworthy. Blog-worth, at the very least.

One of the most endearing aspects of the show is the believability of the charcters. They all have major, exposed flaws. I relate to this. My initial frustration with this episode grew from its utter lack of believability. Meredith was in the water a long time. She was frozen a long time. In real life, she would have been dead a long time.

Death does not work like it did Thursday night. We do not get to learn previously unlearned lessons and than return to wallow in our new knowledge. Our best friend cannot enter the ER and scream "Try again!" resulting in resurrection. We do not have a certain amount of time, determined by how long people try to revive us, to choose to come back.

Now we all have assumptions about the afterlife. This episode merely provided the writers an opportunity to display theirs. The difficulty with the afterlife is that no one has been there and returned to tell. Except maybe for one Guy. But word on the street is that he and his followers are full of crap. Accordingly, we really do not know a whole lot about what goes on.

The guess of the "Grey" writers has just as much chance as being accurate as one coming from the imagination of anyone else who ever lived in the history of the world. In short, the odds of the afterlife looking like Thursday night are worse than those that the science of statistics would give to the idea that our universe formed by accident. I'm not saying that it might not be right. I just wouldn't bet the farm.

Herein lies one of the chief advantages to organized religion, a word that has become filthier in our day than maybe even shit (both outside and inside many churches). Take Christianity, for example. It's depiction of Heaven claims the authority of God through Jesus Christ as relayed to humanity in the Bible. You can debate the validity of this authority all day (and probably most of the night), but the religion of Christianity claims it. Accordingly, innumerable Christians throughout history have had similar baseline thoughts on the afterlife, namely that those who believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for sins spend eternity in an undisclosed location worshipping God.

It may not be detailed, but it does not come from my imagination. It puts me in good company that includes Abraham, Paul, Augustine, Luther, Graham, Jeff, Oakley, Esther, Jenn and Chris Pappa. That comforts me and gives me confidence.

Perhaps this perturbed me above all Thursday night. Without grounding a theory upon some authority, be it experiential or philosophical or spiritual or scientific, it comes across as silly, imagined, unbelievable.

Now for redemption, which I believe exists in everything. I love Meredith's comment right before she returned to earth: "It all seems so unimportant now," referring to her problems with intimacy. Perhaps we do not get a second chance like Grey. Perhaps the depiction of the afterlife was hard to swallow. A good word still radiated from the shadows of the haunted hospital halls. So many trivialities prevent us from loving, from really living, from sucking the marrow out of life, as Thoreau would put it. Good for the show for warning us to avoid these silly hindrances. Regardless of the route it took to convey the message.

1 comment:

Jenn Pappa said...

Not that you blog readers out there need another blog to read but here is what the script writers of Grey's had to say about this episode:
http://www.greyswriters.com/

turns out their idea of an afterlife was just to make it vague... so that they didn't have to defend or disarm christianity in any way... interesting

also, this episode was written by a self-proclaimed has-been that doesnt write for shows that actually succeed... so i'm counting this episode as a fluke and moving on with my life... sigh

ooh and i look forward to hanging out in heaven with you too ben :)