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The Church on TV: Portrayals of Priests, Pastors and Nuns on American Television Series by Richard Wolff
ISBN: 1441157972
ISBN13: 978-1441157973
Author: Richard Wolff
Book title: The Church on TV: Portrayals of Priests, Pastors and Nuns on American Television Series
Other Formats: azw rtf docx doc
Pages: 240 pages
Publisher: Continuum; 1 edition (March 25, 2010)
Language: English
Size PDF version: 1297 kb
Size ePub version: 1625 kb
Size fb2 version: 1672 kb
Category: Humanities

Sister Bertrille, Father Dowling, and Reverend Camden - these three characters span the history of television's depiction of church leaders, from "The Flying Nun (1967-1970)" to "The Father Dowling Mysteries (1989-1990)" and "7th Heaven (1996-2007)". Each exemplifies one of three trends in television's chronicle of the church, from shows of the 1960s-70s that focus on internal conflicts in the church, to those of the 1980s and early 1990s that illustrate the church's struggle for relevance in the modern world, and finally those of the 1990s through today that portray the church in the family context. Along the way, the book discusses the programs' depiction of various issues facing the church of their times, including: the role of women in the church; clerics reconsidering their call; the sexuality of clerics; the ecumenical movement; and the church's response to abortion, homosexuality, racial injustice and illegal immigration. "The Church on TV" looks at American broadcast network programs that focused regularly and principally on church leaders. It takes a historical-critical approach, discussing seventeen programs in-depth and looking not only at how each depicted the church and its leaders but also comparing this depiction to actual church history. What trends emerged? Why? How accurate was the portrayal? What does the depiction say about American popular culture and its view of religion in American society? It's these probing questions and answers that bring the current research up to date.

Books reviews
one of the best books in this field was engrossing hard to put down. brought back many memories,well written . would be good for use in school,i loved itChurch on TV: Portrayals of Priests, Pastors and Nuns on American Television Series
I really enjoyed this book very much. It's well written and engaging--and a great introduction for anyone interested in the topic of Christian clergy as lead characters in American television series over the years. I'm familiar with most of the shows Mr. Wolff writes about, so it was a delightful experience to re-visit "old friends."
As a challenge to Mr. Wolff, how about a sequel: I would be fascinated to see what he would do with the broader topic of the presentation of religion and religious themes (Jewish, Muslim, Hindi, etc) on both network and cable TV. And if he was in the mood for a trilogy, how about broadening the scope to media presentations from across the Pond, he'd have a variety of French, Spanish, Italian, German, Scandinavian, and British shows to examine (including two versions of the Father Brown mysteries from England). I'm sure his examination would be just as engaging as THE CHURCH ON TV.
Bottom line: This is a FINE introduction that engages the reader. Well done!
Abandoned Electrical
The concept behind this book is okay--TV series about clergy--but the execution on paper is disappointing. From the start the author makes odd choices about what to not include in his book: nothing on cable TV, no daytime TV programs, no shows where the clergy aren't the lead characters (therefore M*A*S*H doesn't quality, even though he later does a whole section on the M*A*S*H priest!), and nothing beyond Catholic and a few Protestant shows (sorry rabbi!). So he narrows it to the point of only having about a dozen shows to focus on, completely skipping programs that even fit into his own boundaries (Father Murphy).

Then he uses the pages to merely regurgitate the plots of each show, stating specific episodes in depth and not really giving a true perspective of each show. For example, the Flying Nun section spends way too much time nit-picking the minute plot points of a couple episodes instead of giving a true overall feel for the show. And Amen gets short-changed by focusing too much on the family aspects of a program that is firmly about the behind-the-alter politics of the church.

The book is written as an academic term paper or graduate thesis, which makes it dull to read. He states his facts with a lot of unnecessary footnotes, then does a very short "discussion" at the end of each chapter that provides little perspective. The author never really gets beyond the surface of each program, and even then he seems to completely miss the feeling for some of these shows. One of the biggest points he fails to address is that many of the shows he discusses are actually written and produced by Jews. How can Jewish writers do an adequate job communicating truths of Christianity? Another is that virtually all shows focus on liberal, social-gospel Christianity where there is almost no true biblical faith shown.

The biggest weakness is the book's failure to address anything beyond the few regular TV series about church. There are shows where church was an important part of the series (going back to Mama, where the Norwegian Lutheran pastor was the moral guide to the family). There are shows where the full gospel was actually shown, such as the Family Matters episode that takes place mostly in church where Urkel accepts Christ as his savior. And there are many television programs where clerics where regularly utilized, such as Little House or Andy Griffith Show.

This guy admits at the start that this all begin with a paper he wrote for a class--and that's what the book feels like. Something too academic and incomplete to be of use to the general public. He should have rewritten its format, expanded his boundaries of what to include, and added much more analysis. But as it's written it feels like an incomplete, outdated book that sits on the reference shelf of a college library.
What a great find! This book is fun, nostalgic, informative and surprising! The book provides a comprehensive look at the church as it is represented in the television programs we have all enjoyed since TV first hit the air waves. Great programs like The Flying Nun, Father Dowling Mysteries, 7th Heaven, Amen, and so many others are meticulously researched and discussed. Wolff examines how these programs reflect what was going on in the church at the time. For example, The Flying Nun is about a young girl with contemporary ideas trying to fit in to a convent headed by a conservative reverend mother. It aired just after the Vatican II council and reflected the conflict of the times, when the church was trying to modernize its ways. Also, the author looks at how the representatives of the church in these programs dealt with contemporary and sometimes controversial issues like abortion, homosexuality, immigration and so on. Every church show you can think of is broken down with a critical analysis of the program and what it said about the church. In the end, he considers how the church and popular culture relate to each other.

I would not be surprised to see this book become a standard in this area. It is scholarly yet at the same time has a very approachable style, making it an enjoyable read. It's both for those that love TV and those that love the church! I highly recommend it!!!
Awesome book
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