We have been fans of the police drama “Blue Bloods” for a few years. A recent episode touched on the police chaplain’s escape into alcohol abuse; he was deadening the despair he felt, realizing that few of his flock ever came to him for solace, understanding or help to keep doing their jobs – or – simply living.
He said these kinds of troubles have been redefined.
He had been on duty through 9/11 and its aftermath, but now he was “feeling useless as cops who used to seek his counsel were now opting for doctors who prescribed pills and diagnosed them with things like depression and PTSD.”
Frank (Tom Selleck) asked Father Markhum what was different about his recent circumstances, his having dealt with loss for so long, The chaplain lamented that "nobody's coming" to him anymore, given other sorts of counselors and even the meds people take to feel better. And, basically, he had decided to throw in the towel. (Crises of Faith)
In the television drama, bad things happened; how should the characters cope? The show did goad me to wonder how well I can help a soul in crisis. Some of them faced stuff that has yet to happen to me and mine – but some of it, like broken hearts, happens routinely. The writers on this show raised unanswered questions – and showed hurt that is not automatically healed.
A dramatization of living in the post-Christian era?
How do I answer a sudden cry for help? Are you prepared? Are we living in such a way, a hurting heart could trust us with their tears? Or, are we living like that chaplain, consumed with rejection and self-pity because of today’s re-definitions of faith, sin, and ethics?
What I liked was those writers pointed to the help and hope God can be, without expressing one-size fits all bromides. We didn’t hear what the chaplain said – only that he offered a fresh cup of coffee, and a sympathetic ear. Counseling and prescription medicine help heal . . . but counsel that ignores God may lead us into more dead ends.
God did not turn all His healing power over to counselors, even those who preface their profession with “Christian.” Nor did he compress the power all into prescription drugs.
He leaves room for Himself to work in ways we don’t expect. But if we go A.W.O.L., throwing in the towel the way that police chaplain initially did, despairing that nobody seems interested in the healing hope that faith in Christ is, we’ll miss His mysteries, too.
“God did not die and leave you in charge!” And if I slip into thinking God is my co-pilot, change seats!
In the “Blue Bloods” episode, finally the police commissioner, Frank, sent his hurting son to get the help that he knew the chaplain could and did offer. Just one person came to him – just one, and found the chaplain on duty, albeit in a very empty church.
Praying we have ears to hear the cry, and hospitable hearts to help, even in big empty spaces.
A little Humor & Wise Advice: Bob Newhart: Just STOP IT!