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Crazy or Enlightened by God?

From 2003 to 2005, Amber Rose Tamblyn starred in the CBS drama series Joan of Arcadia. Amber played Joan Girardi, a sophomore in high school struggling to fit in. The pilot episode introduces Joan while dreaming where she first hears God’s voice as a whisper in the night. The next day God appears to Joan as a human being based upon Joan Osborne’s song “What If God Was One of Us?” This initial meeting sets the format for a typical episode where Joan sees and speaks with God, usually appearing as a different person each time. During this conversation, Joan receives an assignment and performs this task is a round about manner.

Then a fresh division of opinion arose among the Jews because of His saying these things. 20 And many of them said, Jesus has a demon and He is mad (insane—He raves, He rambles). Why do you listen to Him? – John 10:19-20

These encounters make Joan uneasy, unsure if she’s crazy, dreaming or enlightened by God? When Joan regularly leaves her friends to talk to strangers who are God, family and friends begin to get the sense that Joan isn’t all their mentality. In the final episode of season 1, Joan contracts Lyme Disease. After collapsing on the last day of school, doctors believe Joan’s encounters with God were merely hallucinations. Over the summer, Joan is sent to a mental hospital where she meets Judith, as a close friendship develops in season 2. Like many teenagers, when asked to share her special connection with God, Joan changes the topic, never expressing her faith. When you get a chance to share your faith, don’t let these opportunities slip by.

Others argued, These are not the thoughts and the language of one possessed. Can a demon-possessed person open blind eyes? – John 10:20

Telling others that you have a special relationship with God is risky in today’s current climate. Yet, when God put a message upon Jesus’ heart, He regularly shared biblical life lessons. These analogies, parables, and stories threatened many Jewish leaders. Jesus’ teaching caused some to believe that He was either demon possessed or insane. These comments inspired a chapter in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. Lewis asks an opened ended question: “is Jesus a liar, lunatic or Lord?” This question challenged former investigative journalist Lee Strobel who like Lewis was an atheist. Yet, Strobel’s journey ended in a similar manner, writing The Case for Christ. No one wants to be made fun of or teased, but Jesus calls enlightened individuals to speak up, Matthew 10:32-33. Those who stand up for God will be counted but those who deny God will be rejected.

by Jay Mankus


What’s God’s Handle?

Before the day’s of cell phones, internet and twitter, one of the most popular means of communication was CB radio.   The 1977 classic Smokey and the Bandit starring Bert Reynolds glorified this coded form of conversation.  In this film, Smokey referred to highway patrolmen, especially those setting speed traps for truckers.  Snowman was Cledus’ handle, played by Jerry Reed, who drove an 18 wheeler full of 400 cases of Coors Beer and Bandit was Reynold’s nickname, who teamed up with fellow drivers to escape the police and fulfill their dare with Big and Little Enos, driving 2 vehicles from Georgia to Texas just in time for a big celebration.

In the 2003 Pilot episode, Amber Tamblyn plays Joan Girardi, a high school junior trying to comprehend God’s handle on life during Season 1 of Joan of Arcadia.  Through a series of strange events, Joan’s not sure if she’s crazy, delirious or actually able to hear God speak.  Afraid to tell others she is communicating with God, Joan starts to subtly ask others their opinions about the Lord’s existence, trying to make sense of her bizarre encounters.  Finally, after obeying God’s first assignment slowly, she lays down to sleep, removing her headphones, hoping to discern God’s voice, waiting in silence, like an old CB radio with static.

The most difficult part of adjusting to God’s Handle, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, 1 Kings 19:12, as your volume is not always tuned up.  However, when you do make a conscience effort to hear God, sometimes you may want to turn the dial to another channel because you’re not happy with what you hear.  This is where Free will enters the equation.  If you are able to watch the first season of Joan of Arcadia, CBS and the writers of the show do a valiant job of illustrating moments of obedience and disobedience.  Although the nature of God is flawed by Joan Osborne’s song “What if God was one of us,” the premise challenges the audience to ponder, “what’s God’s handle?”

by Jay Mankus

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