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« The Pain of the Unborn | Main | Oooops! »

November 30, 2006

Biblical education needed, stat!

Harvard's addition of a faith and reason requirement could not possibly be more timely, at least if House viewers are any indication. Consider the (admittedly unscientific) poll on Fox's homepage for the show, which asks, "Did you understand Wilson's last line in the [most recent] episode about the 'thirty pieces of silver'?"

The results are currently as follows:

"Yes, I recognized it right away": 17%
"I did after I looked it up": 19%
"No, what does it mean?": 60%

Let's not forget that House's audience might be expected to be at least a smidgen better at grasping literary allusions than, say, a bunch of teens vegging out in front of MTV's Jackass. In the same episode, for instance, Wilson quipped to Chase that Samuel Beckett had once considered calling his most famous play Waiting for House's Approval. If people who listen to this sort of thing week after week don't get one simple biblical reference, we're really in trouble.

It's not just that these people -- who are Web-literate enough at the least to look up a site on their favorite show and answer a poll -- know nothing about the Gospel, serious as that is. Without even a basic knowledge of the Bible, how can they understand Shakespeare, or Milton, or Dante, or Dickens, or medieval or renaissance art, or, in short, anything at all about Western culture? How can they have any idea at all of where they themselves came from?

Kudos to the House writers for their cultural literacy, and for encouraging it among their viewers, but with responses like that -- assuming that they're not the product of pranksters -- one starts to fear that it might really be too little, too late.

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Sarah Edwards

Anyone who looked up the episode in advance had an additional clue, since the episode was called "Finding Judas."

Incidentally, the show is a great place to look for situational ethics of all kinds, particularly medical ethics. I'd be interested to hear your and your fellow bloggers' takes on that.

Gina Dalfonzo

Martha and I had a discussion of that kind back when "House" came back after its summer hiatus. If you'd like to read it, Sarah, here are the links:





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