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Fun Friday: Praise for Grilled Cheesus on ‘Glee’

This week’s episode of Glee focused on religion, with lunkhead leading man Finn Hudson’s creation of a “Grilled Cheesus” (burned toast resembling Jesus) prompting him to coax New Directions to sing about faith. The glee club’s musical numbers included covers of “Only the Good Die Young,” “Losing My Religion,” “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” “One of Us,” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.”


Check out this blog post from The Christian Century, and here’s an official clip that sums up the episode:

Ultimately, gleefully sadistic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch, who is hosting tomorrow night’s Saturday Night Live) forbid the club from singing about religion, citing separation of church and state. 


She was wrong, though no one points that out — presumably because, as that recent Pew religious literacy quiz reports, Americans think there are more restrictions on religion in public schools than actually exist.

According to the Anti-Defamation League:

Religious music or drama may be included in school events that are part of a secular program of education. The content of school special events, assemblies, concerts and programs must be primarily secular, objective and educational, and may not focus on any one religion or religious observance and may not appear to endorse religion over non-religion or one religion over another. Such events must not promote or denigrate any particular religion, serve as a religious celebration, or become a forum for religious devotion. Student participation should be voluntary. Thus, a school’s choral group can sing songs that are religious in nature but may only do so if the song is part of a larger program of music which is secular.


Given that New Directions performed Britney Spears music last week (and Madonna and Lady Gaga last year), and the club includes at least two Jews and an atheist (check out USA Today’s Faith & Reason post by Cathy Lynn Grossman for more on that angle), that should cover an occasional Hallelujah. Or they can just leave that to Michael Bolton, who stepped in for Susan Boyle on Dancing With the Stars this week.


If you missed Glee on Fox, you can catch the last five episodes, or just the musical clips, online via Hulu.

P.S. Funniest throwaway line of the episode? Dim-bulb cheerleader Brittany S. Pierce (not to be confused with Britney Spears): “Every time I pray, I fall asleep.”

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posted October 8, 2010 at 8:47 am

The anti-Catholic “Only the Good Die Young” song has woven its way into overall acceptability. A new person is fired for a vague reference about control of media; yet, a song that explicitly states that Catholic girls do not have sex as early as they should and “Virginia” should just put-out because it is more fun to be a sinner than a saint is very difficult to understand.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I think we were all happy to see this episode be so fun and Glee-like while also addressing religious issues in a meaningful way.
“One of Us” was my favorite musical number, and grilled Cheesus was hilarious.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I really like this episode. It revealed for me how truly complicated we can make the simple matters of faith, hope, and love. Finn thinks he has found his savior in the image on his sandwich. Of course, this is ludicrous, but it speaks to how desparate we’ve all become for a savior, dare I say hungry in light of the sandwich image :-). We all need God, and in a world where it’s either frowned upon or outright illegal to suggest that Jesus truly is Lord and savior, Finn’s desperate attempt to accept a savior in grilled cheese caricatures this cultural mess we all find ourselves in. By the end of the episode each of the character’s had encountered the grace of God, and I wanted there to be a voiceover or preacher, or something that made the connection of human experience of grace back to God, the source of that grace. But, alas, had Glee offered that, then most assuredly the non-believers watching would have been in an uproar. How desperate we all are for a savior, yet it seems we are even more desperate to claim the savior is us.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I, unfortunately, run with Gleeks. That being said, I had three main problems with the episode.
1. Finn’s prayer for a boob-touch granted?
2. Mercedes saying from her Church pulpit that it was okay for Kurt not to believe in God, as long as he believed in something. What church in their right mind would allow this from a pulpit?
3. Finally, on a non-religious note, the pacing. Glee does a wonderful job sliding in musical numbers, usually. This week, it was all, “This is how I feel Mr. Shu. Let me sing about it!” All the subtlety of a ton of bricks.
Still a fan, though.

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posted October 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

I watched this episode yesterday (thank you, DVR) – it was the stuff of an excellent Confirmation Class. Each song (yes, the staging of the pieces was heavy handed – in a Broadway kind of way) reflected the issues that kids have brought to me in the process of deciding to join the Church. I thought the arrangments and new contexts for some of the songs was genius.
Of course, I don’t use confrimation class as a means for indoctrination. They are confriming their faith, not the doctrines and dogmas that have preceded them. I believe firmly it is the time for young people to begin making choices for themselves. It is my opportunity not to sell our congregation or denomination, but to offer the confirmands the possibilities and help them determine their own choices. It isa process I dearly love – especially when one of the “wise guys/gals” tries to make a theological/ecclesiastical point into a joke. It it ain’t fun, it ain’t worth God’s time or mine.

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Eva Stavrinides

posted October 19, 2010 at 8:47 am

What a beautiful episode – I hope to catch it in reruns.

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