A writer for Christianity Today wonders why God is missing from Downton Abbey, the PBS series that has engaged Americans as surely as Brideshead Revisited did almost three decades ago.
It's been well reported that Downton Abbey is the most successful British period piece since Brideshead Revisited, the series based on the Evelyn Waugh novel. Both are set in roughly the same geographic and economic regions—and as of Season 3, with some time overlap as well. Both stories mark long and descending trajectories for once-in its characters' passionate and complex relationships with God. great English families. But the plot of Brideshead is driven by and steeped Waugh's story turns on a crisis of faith that both sums up the sea changes of aristocratic life at the end of the nineteenth century and transcends earthly questions with spiritual ones. (Why is GOD Still Absent from Downton Abbey?)
Perhaps God’s “absence” from the new series testifies that folks in the second decade of the 21st century have stopped grappling with God and left the wrestling ring of faith. (Jacob wrestles with God) The Genesis account of an all-night wrestling match between Jacob and a man captures my heart’s struggle with the knowledge of my guilt and grief and my understanding of God – but I doubt I could make it through a literal night like Jacob did. Too often, I give up struggling because of my own willfulness or worries. And sometimes it just hurts too much to keep hanging on to an unseen God.
This isn’t so distinct from the struggles of Americans or Brits in last century – or from the angst of Evelyn Waugh’s memorable characters, or our new friends from Downton Abbey. Real life hurts – and our struggles alongside the reality of war, human frailty and financial ruin that both works of fiction captured are recognizable. But none of struggles, or the author, Evelyn Waugh, faced the cultural, social and legal marginalization that Christians face today.
Britain: Judge Rules Christians Have No Right to Refuse to Work on Sundays
A new court ruling in Britain says Christians have no right to refuse to work on Sundays because it is not a "core component" of their beliefs, The Telegraph reports . . . The ruling . . . essentially means the courts are now in a position of deciding what is and what is not a "core" doctrine of Christianity. (Crosswalk)
Explaining our faith may become more problematical as Christianity is no longer an influencer of the culture. But living out our faith – well, that's the history of what it’s all about. Here’s where the Bible can be helpful. (Psalm 119:65-72)
And here’s where I hope Christian artists and writers will succeed – pointing folks to God in times when His enemy seems more powerful and attractive than HE is.
God, I believe – help thou my unbelief (Mark 9:24)