Friday, October 12, 2012

Who We Are Instead: An Introduction

by Ben Howard

Fall brings a lot of fun things along with it like cool weather, awesomely colored leaves, and football. It also brings along a new slate of TV shows, some terrible, some interesting, some good. In the last few weeks I started diving in to two of these shows, Revolution and Last Resort, and noticed that they share common themes regarding the moral ambiguity of one's relationship to authority and the nation-state.

At the same time, I had just started watching the Emmy-winning series Homeland which also explores the tension between what it means to be a good citizen and what it means to be a good person and whether those can co-exist or must compete against each other.

These shows had my mind running through different ideas about citizenship, American identity, allegiance and the other tensions that exist in regards to being a citizen of a nation-state while also being called to some higher moral authority. These were difficult and occasionally troubling questions and I realized rather quickly that many of the questions raised about American identity were true regarding Christian identity as well. So I decided to write about it.

Next week, I'll be running a five part series on American and Christian identity titled "Who We Are Instead" (yes, that is the name of a Jars of Clay album).

Monday, I'll talk about the NBC series Revolution and how we are shaped by our pasts, both individually and communally. Tuesday, I'll cover the ABC series Last Resort and the question of authority and allegiance.

Wednesday, the discussion will turn to the Showtime series Homeland and we'll discuss what we think, how we believe and whether or not that makes us dangerous.

On Thursday, we'll take a turn for the comedic as I cover Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart's recent debate The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium and we'll talk about what it means to co-exist with someone who is wholly other.

Finally, on Friday I'll take a shot at wrapping the whole series up by explaining what exactly I mean when I use the phrase "as a Christian."

I hope this series is fun, interesting and enlightening. One side note, I promise that you will not need to watch the shows in question in order to understand the discussion. I'll explain whatever plot points need explanation and I'll do my best to avoid spoilers (which should be easy since I haven't seen the end of any of these series).

I look forward to the conversations this may spark and I look forward to your feedback.


When he isn't watching TV, Ben hangs out with his friends. Yes, he promises you that he has friends who he sees in person from time to time. You can follow him on Twitter @BenHoward87 or email him at benjamin.howard87 [at]

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