Theological Editions - Indepth daily religious news, views, reviews & key theological resources

In-depth religious news, views, reviews, features & resources for the thinking person



Liturgy & Prayer

News & Magazines


Texts & Resources


Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity
by Graeme J. Davidson,
17 October, 2009

Ned Flanders is the popular face of Christianity to millions around the world. Young folk recognise his image more readily than that of the Pope, Billy Graham or any other Christian, other than Jesus.

....You’d have to be a saint to live next to the family at 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, USA. And, in the popular fictional TV cartoon series The Simpsons, Ned Flanders, who admits he’s “about as exciting as a baked potato" is that selfless neighbour. He has to suffer the boorish Homer Simpson and the nasty pranks of his mischievous 10-year old son, Bart.
....Since it first aired 20 years ago, The Simpsons has gained a huge international audience. It’s America’s longest running cartoon series and prime time entertainment, while The Simpsons film has grossed over US$500 million.
....Much of the success of the nearly 450 animated TV episodes lies in how they incorporate popular celebrities and satirise our middle class values, including religious attitudes.
....Ned Flanders is irritatingly cheerful, helpful and forgiving. He believes that God is good to him and has little to complain about, except for Homer Simpson’s swearing on the other side of the fence.
....In contrast, Homer has a love-hate relationship with Ned. In defending him in front of the church congregation, Homer explains, "This man has turned every cheek on his body. If everyone here were like Ned Flanders, there'd be no need for heaven: We'd already be there." But mostly he finds Ned’s goody-two-shoes Christianity infuriating: “I don't care if Ned Flanders is the nicest guy in the world — he's a jerk!"
....Many evangelicals have taken Ned’s bible-based Christianity to heart, treating him as "television's most effective exponent of a Christian life well-lived". Others see him as the show’s way of taking a cheap shot at biblical fundamentalists, while liberal Christians cringe at Ned’s determination to take the Bible literally, including its inconsistencies.
....Nevertheless, Ned Flanders is the popular face of Christianity to millions around the world. Young folk recognise his image more readily than that of the Pope, Billy Graham or any other Christian, other than Jesus.
....A fan of The Simpsons, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says that Ned Flanders is “ludicrous and foolish but generous. He actually does forgive people”.
....Ned’s pastor, the Rev Timothy Lovejoy of the First Church of Springfield, doesn’t attract the same kind of attention. Maybe that’s because he’s disillusioned and burned out by Ned. Ned kept calling Lovejoy over everything and anything, including confessing, “I think I'm coveting my own wife".
....At first, Lovejoy listened. “After that”, he says, “I just stopped caring. Luckily by then, it was the 80s and no one noticed”. He now seeks revenge by encouraging his dog to poop on Ned’s lawn.
....Sixty-year old Nedward Flanders says his youthful appearance is because of “clean living, chewing thoroughly and a daily dose of vitamin church”. Yet his parents were “freaky beatniks” who didn’t believe in letting discipline interfere with Ned’s creativity– until the young Ned became too wild for them. A psychiatrist sent him to the University of Minnesota Spankalogical Protocol, where he received eight months of spanking therapy. That knocked the anger out of him.
....The born again Ned now studies the Bible and prays twice daily, and is involved in his church and nearly every Springfield charity and good cause. Nevertheless, Ned can’t always resist temptation, like the time he and Homer had a wild weekend in Las Vegas and he married a cocktail waitress though already married to Maude.
....Despite being a good man and having a strong belief in God, Ned has had the misfortune of Job. His wife, Maude, died in a bizarre accident, his house was the only one destroyed in a tornado and the shoddy replacement that church members built for him collapsed. Homer constantly abuses him and steals from him, and his retail store selling left-handed goods is often near bankruptcy. Yet Ned Flanders is no hypocrite. He believes God still blesses him.
....If only Ned Flanders would stick to the spirit rather than the literal letter of the Bible, Homer Simpson, and most of us, would find his faith – as Ned would say – very “okily dokily”.



See also
Should we intervene to prevent suicide? >> more
Divorce risk indicator >> more
When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger >> more
Surving the breakup >> more
Suicide terrorism as a desperate weapon of liberation >> more
Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity >> more
Seven common myths about religion >> more
Moral divide between church leaders and laity >> more
Unholy silence over MPs hypocrisy and greed >> more
Anglican schism over gay clergy inevitable >> more
My agonising path to enlightenment >> more
More than ever, it's a time for generosity >> more
National's ethics smell of political expediency >> more
Pope's trip to Holy Land fraught with potholes >> more
The resurrection may have been superfluous >> more
Rasputin — from sinner and seducer to saint? >> more
Religious delusions and the Jerusalem syndrome >> more
Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism >> more
What Castro and Obama have in common >> more
Holidays can revive romance or widen cracks between couples >> more
Dubious scholarship reinterprets Jesus to fit secular creed >> more
Furore over gay marriage echoes the conflict over slavery >> more
If only politics were as certain as dear old granny >> more
You've got to have faith to win the White House >> more
The problem of evil >> more
TV Programmers let lose Roman circus >> more
Prostitutes welcome in the kingdom of God but not in Dannevirke >> more
Church too busy navel-gazing to take lead over crime >> more
Will the Anglican Church split over gay clergy and same-sex unions? >> more
Faith in secular western society >> more
The Vatican's pelvic theology >> more
Abuse and the Beijing Olympics >> more
Would the real Jesus stand up? >> more
Hypersensitivity perverts ethics >> more
God and presidential hopefuls >> more
A three-ghetto church based on politics >> more
Good and bad intentions >> more
Deliver us from exorcists who harm >> more
How effective is prayer? >> more
Masters of non-violence, resistance and kung fu >> more
Was Mother Teresa living a lie? >> more
Double standards over child sex abuse >> more
Soppy inspirational and pseudo-spiritual emails >> more
Caring organisations and pyschopathic bosses >> more
The new anti-religious evangelists >> more
Call for religious education could backfire >> more
Blessing creatures great & small — but what about blowflies? >> more
Does God exist only in the brain? >> more
The Prudes who crucify >> more
tomb raiders and the bones of Jesus and his family? >> more
Jesus loves Osama >> more
Is God more like a matchbox or a number? >> more
Confessions of a failed axe murderer >> more
Bacchanalian festivals and sentimentality >> more
Manners: insignificant social customs? >> more
The 109 fighting boys >> more
Trying to exhume the historical Jesus >> more
Is global violence really on the increase? >> more
Polygamy, circumcision, atheist journalists and religious diversity >> more
The Christian Right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology  >> more 
What a rat taught me >> more
The Church is becoming a retirement hobby for granny clergy >> more 
Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood? >> more
Have church schools sold out on Christianity? >> more
How good a Christian is President George W Bush? >> more

Hitler, Lawyers, Politicians SUV owners and life after death >> more

Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace? >> more
Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy? >> more
Skulduggery and controversy over discovery of religious texts >> more
The cartoons aren't about secular freedoms versus intolerance >> more

Christian Zionists hinder justice and peace in the Middle East >> more

Should making more money be your New Year's resolution? >> more
My early life as a black sheep in a nativity scene >> more
Different types of suicide bomber: what makes them tick >> more
Cheating a short cut to sucess in winner-take-all society >> more
Life after death: Is it logically possible? >> more
Is it Anglican to practise apartheid? >> more
Da Vinci Code unlocks controversy>> more
Bishops' statement: pompous, pious, out of touch and verging on the heretical >> more 
Church leaders unconvincing over prostitution law reform >> more
Divorce risk factors >> more
How global are we?  A Christian's view of globalisation >> more
Victims of dirty tricks & friendly fire: Machiavellian tactics in the Church militant >> more
A redundant resurrection >> more
War, violence, ethics, religion and hypocrisy >> more
If St Peter was interviewed for ordination today >> more
13 ways to empty a church without really trying >> more
How tolerant is the Museum of Tolerance? >> more
A church comes out and reconciliation divides >> more
Micah's dream — too much to ask? >> more
Has the revised Anglican Church in New Zealand instigated a benign form of religious apartheid? >> more
The case for St Judas Iscariot >> more
Exorcism: the ministry of deliverance >> more