I mean, do we really believe that the writers of Glee had one of the main characters, Finn, eating his “Cheesus” sandwich — a grilled cheese sandwich with the alleged face of Jesus on it — while the choir sang “What If God Was One of Us?” in the background as a witness to eucharistic theology? Even some theologians would have missed that one. No, I think it was the writers showing us that Finn had given up on religion (He did, after all, sing the REM song “Losing My Religion.) Having Finn eat what he had once thought was sacred but now thought was bunk was the writers’ way of showing us that they think God is disposable, just an illusion. It was not some high-minded Catholic evangelization, in my opinion. It was the typical Hollywood dismissal of all that we hold to be holy and sacred.
What I respectfully think Mary is missing here is the context. Finn was, in fact, praying to a sandwich during the show. Clearly they are poking fun at the yokels who claim to see Jesus or Mary in potatoes, sandwiches, etc. But the Eucharistic moment is a moment of transformation–where Finn begins to see that God is more than wish fulfillment Genie in a bottle. Finn doesn’t just doubt that the sandwich was God, Finn realizes that God is far deeper than the stupid, simplistic, gambit that he substituted for God.
“If you let me touch Rachel’s boobs, I’ll believe in you.”
The sad part is that we all see ourselves in that, don’t we? We’ve all done Finn’s gambit.
“Oh Lord, let him live and I’ll go to church every day.”
“Oh Lord, let me pass the test and I’ll become so holy.”
“Jesus if you get me out of this, I’ll be a priest.”
Any takers on praying to the Almighty Santa Claus?
God is far from that simplistic notion of faith. And in the moment that Finn realizes that God is far beyond a coincidental burn mark on a piece of bread, he unites with all of us who fall for the same cheap switcheroo.
And that friends is the broken body of Christ of which we share. We all sin, arrogantly sometimes. We all accept cheap substitutes for God. We all think we can control God and get God to do what we want. Even the students who pray for Kurt’s dad to awaken from his coma are hoping for the God of magic tricks. What happens if Kurt’s dad doesn’t wake up? What happens to our faith when things don’t exactly work out?
The truth that Glee exposed was that things don’t always work out. But that God doesn’t abandon us either. God is present somewhere, suffering with each one who thinks that they are a loser, that all is ruined forever. Losing a parent, a starting role on the team, the respect of peers, or one’s own dignity through the hurtful actions of others doesn’t mean that God has decided to become unconcerned about us.
But we all doubt that this is true from time to time. God couldn’t possibly be One of Us. Joan Osborne’s question and REM’s plea to being Losing My Religion is really a call to find a faith that you can believe in. One that goes beyond child-like hocus-pocus and instead understand true transformation.
We all need to be changed.
By the way, a comment about one other matter: With regards to The Billy Joel song, “Only the Good Die Young,” which Mary also complains about as an example of Catholic stereotype, I would say one thing:
We should be more outraged if he said that “Catholic girls start much too early.”
We must be doing something right if he’s singing about us.
And of course, whatever side you take…
Don’t ever stop believin’