September 2006

I’ve seen it suggested that in places like Europe, especially the more socialist countries, where the state is seen as the protector, people don’t feel as much of a need for religion.  While statistics would seem to bear that out it’s still not something I can understand.  The state can provide a certain level of physical protection like employment insurance and health care.  These are both good things. I’m all for people who have lost their jobs still being able to eat and have a roof over their heads and not having to worry how you’re going to pay for it as you or your loved one is rushed to the emergency room.  However physical protection is not all that is needed. 

One of the FMH-ers recently posted on the joys of life and contrasted them with the attitude that this world is a vale of tears.  I have to disagree with her.  There are many things right with my life; there are many blessings I have or look forward to experiencing.  I try to be truly grateful for them but there are other things in my life that, while they are exceedingly minor compared to what others bear, bring me to my knees weeping and screaming.  In so many ways, I want off.  I feel like I’ve had it with this world, its inhabitants and the imperfections of both.  (Readers can relax; I believe suicide would be a sin and anyway I could never intentionally inflict that kind of pain on my family.)

The above brings me to my point: while the state may be able to protect my body it can do nothing for my soul.  Even putting aside for the moment the issues of human nature, sin and eternal progression, the state can neither protect me from nor offer me comfort for the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to.  I truly hate to think of what my life would be like without the gospel.  Nothing could replace it for me; how can those people in Europe NOT notice this hole in their lives?  What do they turn to to help them bear their emotional burdens?

Recently I read an interview with Hugh Laurie, the man who plays House in the show of the same name.  One of the things he said about the part interested me.  He said he was initially unsure the show would survive because Americans like their heros to be good and wholesome, the kind of person you can root for.  Given House’s (now famous) irascibility, Laurie just didn’t think people would like him (meaning House).  However, “House” is a hit; people love it so much there are now several clones on their way to the airwaves.  For example there is “Shark” about a jerky lawyer who always wins.

I hope very much that these clones fail.  I do enjoy “House;” even though if I were ever to meet House himself in person I’d want to throttle him right quick I enjoy him as a character on a TV show.  However I think there is one very important aspect to “House” that isn’t recognized by those behind “Shark.”  No, House isn’t your typical hero.  He’s a jerk who knows he’s a jerk and doesn’t care.  “Tact” is a foriegn word to him.  “Courtesy” is something other people bother with.  It’s not that his competence excuses him either.  Those around him hate his behaviour to the point that in a recent episode one of the doctors learning under him flatly stated that if House had lost his edge then he would quit because “there’s no point putting up with House’s torture if there’s no upside.”

However, in the end House is saving lives.  He’s no sentimentalist; he doesn’t particularly care for the patient but he does care about their life and even their quality of life.  I think that that goal, along with the audience’s own frustrations with people around them and with bureaucracy, is what allows people to enjoy House even in his snarkier moments.

I don’t think people will appreciate the same attitude from a lawyer.  Especially when, as it said in a review of “Shark,” he’s not always fighting for justice.  The ends don’t justify the means but they do affect perceptions.