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I tuned in last night to NBC’s Scrubs, a quirky sitcom about a group of doctors and residents, and was, to my surprise, treated to one of the best half-hours of television I have watched in a long time. The episode was called “My New God,” which led me to expect yet another TV show mocking those of us who actively practice our religious beliefs. Instead, the episode offered a thoughtful and tender look at the struggles we all have with faith and doubt.

The main storyline focused on one doctor, Perry Cox, and his sister, Paige, who comes for a visit to see her baby nephew get baptized–something Perry is against. Perry is less than happy with his sister for another reason: She became a zealous born-again Christian since the last time he saw her. After numerous barbs about the pointlessness of believing in God and a cartoonish portrayal of a Christian by actress Cheryl Hines, the entire episode is suddenly redeemed at the baptismal service. The residents, as well as Dr. Cox himself (standing in the back of the church drinking a beer), attend the service, not necessarily as a sign of support or belief, but as an acknowledgement that while they don’t have all the answers, looking at the miracle of an innocent child as he is baptized is just enough to make them question their disbelief and reconsider the idea of faith in something greater than themselves.

An even-sweeter note of redemption closes the show, as Perry and Paige shoot basketball hoops and Perry admits that his struggle with Paige is not about God after all, but about his struggle with himself and his desire to forget his hurtful childhood. With such smart, fearless treatment of spirituality and human frailty (the second storyline, about a stolen Buddha, was also delightful), I will be checking back into this hospital more often.

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