If you like old shows (“old” meaning way back in the 70’s) you might think of giving yourself a gift this month. Watch some episodes of The Waltons (1971-1981). When is the last time you heard of a tv show that lasted 10 seasons?
Much more than just entertainment, this just might be a story we need to experience, especially now.
My wife and I have been enjoying these on iTunes and each episode actually has a meaningful story. I know it sounds like we’re silly and sappy, but we like the way the family always learns from each other, faces change, addresses major issues like race, poverty, gender, education, religion and much more. We think of John-Boy Walton, the family writer, as a kind of chaplain, without a lot of god-talk. He, and the whole family, are constantly helping others through hospitality and plain kindness. This seems old-fashioned, but as I say, it’s somehow just what we need.
If you remember, each episode ended with the family going to sleep and everyone says good night to parents, grandparents and kids. The other night we saw “The Fighter” about a young African-American man who comes through and gets hired by John Walton to help in the family saw mill. The man is training for a big prize fight and he wants to use the money to build a small church “for my people.” As usual, the story takes a twist and doesn’t end quite like he expected, or as we expected. The family helps build the church then joins a local Black congregation and the fighter-preacher gives a simple sermon.
That night, faith was on the mind of the youngest girl, Elizabeth. At bedtime she asked:
“Mama, when someone is baptized in the river, are their sins washed away?”
“But, Mama, where do the sins go down the river?”
Grandpa chimes in to say the river flows into other rivers and out to the sea.
“But that doesn’t seem fair to the FISH!”
Give yourself a gift and watch this show, again or for the first time.
(hint for seculars: Grandpa likes to go to church mainly for the hymns. John doesn’t go to church at all. The back and forth between the mother and grandmother–heavy baptists–and the menfolk, is pretty good to hear)