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Religion on ‘The Simpsons’

posted by Nell Minow

Be sure to check out this terrific Beliefnet gallery from Mark I. Pinsky on the best Simpsons episodes about religions. It includes “Like Father, Like Clown” (written with the help of three rabbis, about Krusty the Clown’s exploration of his Jewish identity), “She of Little Faith,” where Lisa explores Buddhism with Richard Gere, and “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star,” with Liam Neeson as a priest.
I loved the brief scene in The Simpsons Movie when it looked like the world was ending and everyone from the church ran into a bar just as everyone in the bar ran into the church. Simpsons episodes have explored everything from end of days speculation to Genesis. And of course recurring character Ned Flanders is a gently joking — but ultimately respectful — portrayal of sincere faith and the kindness it inspires.

  • jestrfyl

    I have created whole retreats on the Simpsons. In doing so I start with Pinsky’s book (he has an equally good one on Disney). There are many other materials as well, including a “memoir” by the voice of Bart. But Pinsky’s book & study guide gives the most spiritually and religious direct starting points. I also use the 3 episode guides- though another for the most recent seasons is greatly needed. In fact, my son gave me my own talking Rev Lovejoy “action” figure (no, he is not a doll) for Christmas, in a church decorated box. Even TV Guide – the Videophile “bible” – has proclaimed the Simpsons to be the most religious show on TV!
    What was fun about the retreats was that even though they were designed (mostly) for middle school kids, the adult chaperones got into it and had a great time – even the ones who had never watched an episode. Now I am thinking about doing a high school/college retreat scheme with “South Park”.

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