As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a religious person. But seeing as it’s Holy Week, a spiritually themed post seems in order. In fact religion has been quite prominent in the media lately what with this guy newly on the scene…
And this recent and shocking revelation behind the failure to pass the proposal that would have allowed female vicars to become bishops in the Anglican church…
Therefore, I thought it appropriate to share my recent telly encounters with two men of faith – the first is a small village Catholic priest who solves murders in his ample spare time and the other, a well-meaning Anglican vicar who’s in over his head trying to manage his shambolic inner city parish.
While it’s obvious that the Church is Father Brown’s primary gig, the investigation of murders and other serious crimes in the 1950’s Cotswolds village of Kembleford is certainly his avocation. Armed with his ever-present black umbrella, our cleric can frequently be seen, cassock fluttering behind him as he pedals his trusty bicycle hither and yon in pursuit of elusive criminals. Most importantly, he always seeks the truth, even when another explanation might be more convenient.
Another thing that makes Father Brown such a good detective is his advanced observational and listening skills, honed no doubt during his countless hours as confessor for his flock…and while suffering the endless blithering of village gossip, Mrs. McCarthy.
Father Brown is a man of humility, curiosity, compassion, patience and tolerance; a veritable saint, in fact. How else could he possibly refrain from gloating every time he proves the village police chief, Inspector Valentine, wrong?
As accepting and calm an influence as Father Brown would no doubt be to a troubled soul, I think I’d prefer Reverend Adam Smallbone to be my spiritual advisor and I’ll tell you why. He’s as frazzled and screwed up as the rest of us. Between the demands of his home life (he and wife Alex are trying to conceive), his dysfunctional parishioners, and his charmingly cruel boss, Archdeacon Robert, Adam barely has time to listen to his calling, let alone carry it out.
The point is I can relate to this man; the fact that he is torn in many directions, has doubts about his career, and experiences a multitude of human emotions including jealousy, guilt, conceit and lust. All these feelings make great fodder for the humorous situations Adam must endure. But it also makes his private discussions with God and his personal discoveries more endearing, more real. The vicar is by no means a perfect clergyman like gentle, constant Father Brown, but he lives and learns from what he teaches.
When I think of the way church leaders are portrayed on-screen in the US, my mind goes immediately to the intolerant minister from Footloose (played by John Lithgow) who banned dancing and “devil music” in his small town, the Jim Bakker-brand of televangelist or the priests in horror movies who perform usually unsuccessful exorcisms. There aren’t many like the kind and ordinary men I’ve mentioned here today.
Both Father Brown and Reverend Smallbone trust in their faith and I can respect that, even when others cannot.
Oh, and did I happen to mention that like Father Brown, Adam is a cycling preacher as well?