For some reason the God-figure who most gives me the creeps on Joan of Arcadia is the Goth guy with the spiked hair and the black lipstick. He was the main epiphany last night (January 7, 2005) and I found myself getting tired of him. I probably need to ask myself why. There's may be a touch of prejudice in it. I haven't hung out with many Goth guys, but the few I've encountered didn't strike me as being founts of godly wisdom. Now that I get to thinking about it, though, the question does arise about why God chooses the personas he adopts on the program. Who decides that? (assuming it's not God himself). Is there a esoteric connection between the guise selected and the message adopted? As I've said before, I'm not sure about the vision of God we get from this production. He seems to veer dangerously close to a "with-it" high school guidance counsellor.  Maybe that's who God actually is. But if so we've wasted a lot of effort and money on high-fallutin theology.

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I often wonder what fundamentalists think of the depiction of God on Joan of Arcadia. He, or she, is certainly not a thunder and brimstone figure. Joan argues with him frequently, and even calls him names, which he always takes in good spirits. Last night (December 10, 2004), God told Joan she needed to do something she was afraid of. So she decided to go out for the high school diving team. The purpose, it turned out, was to induce her younger brother, Luke, to try out also and, eventually, to overcome his fear. There's nothing straightforward about the God on this program. His ways might even be called sneaky, but, being God, he gets away with them. Another thing about this God: I've never heard him say anything about the Bible. He may have written it, but he's not much of a PR man. That's not likely to set well with certain strains of Christianity. If there is any serious theological purpose lurking in the background of this series, it may be to liberate God from being an idol and make him into something living. I don't know that the purpose -- if it exists -- is succeeding. But I suppose we ought to give some credit for the attempt.

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I'm afraid that Joan of Arcadia has run out of steam. Even God seemed droopy on the program last night (October 8, 2004). The depiction of high school life becomes ever more incredible, and ever more fatuous, as the actors look ever more like people in their thirties than like teenagers. And the physics teacher at the school is so bizarre she makes one wonder if she ought not to be under restrictive care. Her notion of helping students understand Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is get them to engage in social activities and then discover that their actions don't turn out as expected. This is high-octane intellectualism. Joan, herself, continues dumb as a post and perpetually perplexed. She evidently has no memory at all. She never recalls that God's semi-cryptic instructions turned out pretty well in the past. Every time he (or she) tells her something, she pouts. Pouting, in truth, is her fundamental response to life. I guess this is supposed to show that she really is a teenager and not the woman in her mid-twenties that her body proclaims her to be. Her parents, meanwhile, continue to do astoundingly stupid things so that older brother Kevin will be given opportunities to wake them up and teach them something. Whenever this occurs, they look grave and then, eventually, hug somebody. At times, the only person in the entire cast who appears to be sane is younger brother Luke. Yet he is continuously dismissed by all the rest. The program is rapidly turning into the melodrama of an asylum rather than a depiction of God's mode of intervening in life.

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Staying power is a key issue for a dramatic television series. Even those that start brightly sometimes lose it by the end of the first season. That's happening now with Joan of Arcadia. The problem is, the program has a callow notion of God. And, in a series that's supposed to reveal God's wisdom, this is a difficulty. Admittedly, people down the ages have found it hard to figure out what God's up to. But, if this is it, God help us. I suppose the program does reveal one thing. If God actually spoke directly to people as the TV God talks to Joan it would make for gigantic screw-ups. And, after a while, even God would become boring, which, I suppose, is the problem facing the program's producers. The real God, if he's around somewhere, must have concluded long ago that familiarity is not his forte.

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