A review by Jenni:
This has been a trying week just with personal stuff. I'm
exhausted and should probly wait to do this review til I've slept
some but... here's the paradox: I watch these TBAA episodes and
feel some nervousness that any lil thing in them will make me
sad. And this episode, featuring a character who faces death
while far too young, seems like it could be especially
troubling. And yet it's also watching and reviewing these
that I feel the most at peace. I feel like I'm once again in
a safer, warmer place. So... Here I go.
What I love about this episode:
It's a beautiful opening shot! I wish we could see the stars
better where I am.
It's nice to think that Andrew and Monica had some special moments
together just the two of em, as suggested by Monica telling Tess
that Andrew taught her about the stars.
This episode seems rather perfectly timed for me. I've been
thinking a lot lately about how sometimes nature itself can serve
as God's messenger. A butterfly lands near you at a moment
you most need hope. Flowers appear just when you need the
reminder of Spring. The wind that raises up and sends a
cascade of leaves floating around you, like a caress from
So this dad kinda annoys me but I'm glad to see a parent who wants
to be a parent and not a friend to their kid. Lucy should
not have been wearing that top.
I love it whenever TBAA goes literary. Granted, I prefer it
when Andrew does the poetry reading but it's nice to hear Monica's
lilting voice recite part of Walt Whitman's "When I heard the
Learn'd Astronomer." Kinda odd that they cut one line,
though. I wonder if that was TBAA's or THC's decision?
(ETA: The line is cut in the CBS version, as well.) A bit
later she goes on to say the opening line of William Blake's
"Auguries of Innocence," too.
Hee. I pulled the ol' one set of research, multiple papers
thing in college at least once. I'm glad Monica
approves. I also did one term paper, one JABB newsletter
with one set of research, too. :-) My lovely lil essay
on Andrew's hair was based off an Anthropology paper I wrote.
The scene of Lucy learning about ovarian cancer from her friend is
so sad and so well done. It's also a bit relatable to
me. My parents, God love em, didn't tell me when my grandpa
was diagnosed with prostate cancer. What they apparently
hadn't counted on was that my grandpa was something of a public
figure and, thus, it made the local paper. And I, too, found
out about his condition at school. I think loving parents
want to protect their children from painful truths but... they
"How am I supposed to live without my mom?" That line from
Lucy to Monica is so wretched. And yet, even though I still
have both my parents, I hear myself in it. One of the more
difficult things, for me, in dealing with JD's untimely passing is
the realization that, unless I die young, virtually every
person who inspired me and helped me cope with life will die
before me... including my parents. And I don't know how to
live with that. I honestly can't imagine existing without my
parents. It's a very real, relatable line.
"Just because you can't see the light doesn't mean it's not
there." From Monica to Lucy. I can relate.
I really like that Lucy ends up finding more of relevance in her
English paper. Because while I admire Andrew's efforts,
Intelligent Design has never meant a whole lot to me. It's a
nice theory but there's nothing of warmth in it. Maybe I'm
just a sap but my faith is built more on tradition and experience
and emotion than scientific ideas. That being said, I think
it's a personality thing. I've no doubt some people can come
to an intense belief in God through scientific discovery.
I really like that Monica stresses that you can be a scientist and
a believer. Learning about creation can and does inspire a
sense of awe for the Creator. I'm sure many scientists feel
that way. Heck, National
Geographic's In the
Womb was more faith-building for me than some Jesus
movies. I'm also sure
scientists are sometimes upset by those who demonize science as
anti-God and anti-religion. Certainly, some of what's done
in the name of science is bad. But so is some of what's done
in the name of religion.
"God promises that if you take one step out of the darkness into
the light, no matter how small the step, the light will shine
brighter." Monica to John. Sometimes that first step
is really hard but at least we don't take it alone.
I am really glad of the fact that Monica only lit up after John
called out to God. Having a faith based solely on the fact
that your conversation partner became bathed in light seems
I like the closing shots of the three humans and the three angels
both taking a moment to simply admire God's heavens.
What I didn't love about
These first three are not at all gripes about the writing, acting,
or anything. I believe they're in keeping with John's
character and people like him (my way or the highway folks)...
which is what made these aspects difficult to see...
First, it's absolutely awful how John so pointedly makes it clear
that Lucy's friend did well on the Geology test and Lucy did
not. Highly unprofessional. But I've seen teachers do
it. It just sets the kids up for hurt. Both students
could wind up teased and mocked either as teacher's pet or a
failure. I can understand John not wanting to give Lucy
special treatment and applaud that. But here he seems to be
taking advantage of the fact that he can talk down to her and not
worry about a parent complaining since he's the parent. He
is giving her special treatment: just not the good kind.
John seems a lil too high and mighty. Granted, I can
understand how a person might come to that point when they're in a
minority (as I'm sure atheists often feel they are) and in the
midst of a crisis. However, it seems a lil out of line to
accuse Monica of being unethical for talking to Lucy about her
paper for his class. It's not like she was undermining his
authority by, say, suggesting Lucy should spend more time on her
lit homework rather than her science homework. At my high
school, the teachers saw each other as resources if not friends...
they weren't this territorial. Teachers ought not to
be. Education requires all disciplines and sometimes
disciplines overlap. One of my greatest psychology lessons
came from my Chem teacher.
I'm also a lil concerned about John based on the fact that his
wife admits to curiosity about God but is afraid "to rock the
boat." One's definitely entitled to one's own beliefs but if
those beliefs make one's loved ones afraid to explore their own...
maybe something's wrong. Zealots of all types need to chill
out. I've seen people of faith get rude to atheists who were
cheerfully minding their own business. And I've seen
atheists seek out people of faith to say nasty things
to. Neither person helps their cause.
This is my only actual gripe: I have a lil bit of a problem with
Monica telling Lucy she needs to be strong for her mother. A
very similar line was told to me when my family faced a crisis
when I was Lucy's age. And I did my best to be the strong
one. I internalized a lot and, honestly, it's only been with
JD's death that I feel like I've really let that stored up pain
out... 13 years later. (A final lesson and gift, I guess...
but one I wish could have been given in some other way. I'm
so grateful to him and still sad that he's gone from our world but
I know he's loving the one he's in now.) That I carried all
that responsibility around for years is not healthy. I don't
disagree that Lucy will need to be strong but I wish Monica would
have followed it up with "But you'll need to take care of
yourself, too. I'll be here when you need to talk."
Kids can't be the last in the line of strong people.
Holy cow. Research papers in high school science?!?
Praise God that I never had to write one of those in my high
school. I'd still be there. Do most high schools have
that made me feel swoony:
Just the idea of Andrew lecturing me about the stars makes me
swoony. Thankfully, it does not have the same effect on
And I just misheard John as saying that Andrew was from the
"Handsome Planetarium." ::giggle:: I love this
guy. No matter what's going on, he connects me with my
younger, geekier, giddier self. And that name would be very
apt. But, for the record, I think it was actually the Hansen
Planetarium or something. But Andrew is most assuredly
handsome. How come we never got guest lecturers like
him? Then again... at my all-girls high school that may have
been scary. For him.
Aww. He said *our* galaxy. Like he considers himself
part of us...
Why do I have the feeling I might have actually got really good
science grades had Andrew been my teacher?
OMG. I love the button up shirt with sweater vest look
Andrew has when Lucy first visits him. Too bad that scene is
Andrew using his pocket watch to explain Intelligent Design
reminds me of his "Ultimate Reality" talk in MDWA. I love
how he strives to make what he knows to be true understandable in
whatever way he needs to. His body language in that part is
really good, too. Did you ever notice how often Andrew will
move seemingly just to ensure he's eye level with the person he's
speaking to? Andrew's like the opposite of the King in The King and I.
Andrew is really good at playing the devil's
advocate. Ironic for an angel! When he's talking about
how there's a chance that all the gears, wheels, etc. for the
pocket watch just happened to come together, it reminds me of his
confrontation with the father in "An Angel on My Tree." He
voices the exact opposite of what he feels to make his point
"Forever." Gotta love Andrew's last line. For those
who don't remember, that's his answer when Monica asks how long
the family has together. When I get to feeling low about how
short JD's life ended up being, I'm going to remember that moment
and that he has forever. And so do we. In those first
few terrible days, I felt like he'd given me means to cope with
every loss I'd faced but not his own death. That was
wrong. And not fair to him. The message of hope and
peace and God's eternal love that he helped to spread are all I
Music: I didn't catch any.
I would like to take a moment to plug a book I just finished
reading yesterday. It's called Creation or Evolution?
Do We Have to Choose by Dr. Denis Alexander. He's a
Christian and scientist who firmly believes both in evolution and
the Bible. The guy actually managed to get me to believe,
once more, that Adam and Eve may have actually existed... all
while making me think about chromosomes. Not being at all
scientifically minded, I sometimes had to reread the really
science-based parts. And sometimes I reread the more
theological parts just cause they were beautiful. I wish the
family in this episode would have had access to the book.
I have an admiration of sorts for atheists. When Lucy says
that about how all the science in the world won't let her see her
mother after she dies, that gets to the heart of it. If I
didn't strongly believe in Heaven, I think death would make me go
insane. As painful as it is, I can live with grief because I
believe that one day I will see those I love again and never, ever
be parted from them again. Without that... I can't imagine
keeping it together and facing day in and day out and losing more
and more people. And it's not even losses in my
lifetime. If I thought I'd never get to meet Jesus then I
think anything connected to Him would just be unbearably
painful. So I have to kinda marvel at people who keep sane
without that. Of course, I also think it takes strength *to*
believe in Heaven and yet remain here on Earth.
This episode is kinda like the movie Creation in bizarro
universe. In Creation,
Darwin loses a child and writes a book that some feel threatens
faith. In this, a child begins to lose a parent and writes a
paper that an atheist feels threatened by.
I was also left thinking about The Invention of Lying. Now, I have no
doubt that film was at least in some ways meant to be
pro-atheism. However, I enjoyed it as a Christian.
Because while it may have been suggesting that theism is a lie,
for me a more apt title would have been The Invention of Imagination
and/or Wonder. As I watched the film, I got to
thinking about how, even though I believe God is a fact and the
Ultimate Truth, without imagination I would likely be an
atheist. If President Obama walks into this room right now,
it requires no imagination on my part to believe the President
exists. I can see him, shake his hand, etc. But I
can't shake God's hand or see Him. It takes some wonder and
imagination. Even if I was left with the Bible, if I
couldn't imagine anything beyond it... would I feel any connection
to this God that they keep talking about? I'm not so
sure. So I think it's interesting that in this episode, we
have Erica who imagined constellations and Lucy who so enjoys
English and thinking about "what ifs." Both have more of a
propensity to believe in God than John who we never see engaging
in anything creative. He doesn't ever seem to ponder
anything beyond what his 5 senses tell him. This is, of
course, not to say that atheists can't be creative. Ricky
Gervais certainly is. John seems to have never really
employed any thought to his atheism, though. When Lucy
questions him about it, his response is something to the effect of
"well, it just is." That's not a very compelling accounting
for a belief from anyone, atheist or theist. I guess what
I'm saying is I wonder if, for many people, their belief in God is
tied to their penchant for creative thought? I will say that
my faith is much more vital and comforting to me when I employ
some imagination. Reading about Heaven in the Bible is
lovely. Taking what I've read and extrapolating upon it
brings me peace.
the scene, right after the commercial break, in which Lucy's
parents finish telling her about her mom's diagnosis; there's a
scene of the two parents in bed. Erica asks John why he and
Lucy were arguing. Clearly still angry, he tells her that
Lucy had the audacity to suggest writing a paper about God.
Erica smiles and says Lucy is trying to get his attention.
John ponders why his daughter thinks she can prove something like
that. Still smiling, Erica responds that Lucy doesn't have
to prove it. She "got your goat, mission
accomplished." John asks Erica is she was like that when she
was 15. She says that she was perfect. They both smile
and chuckle. Then they spoon. Aww. John tells
Erica they're gonna beat the cancer again. She says "I know"
but it's obvious by her face that she doesn't believe it.
John kisses her. Then in the next scene, John confronts
Monica which THC keeps. It's a shame they cut this scene
cause it's the first scene in which I actually like John.
-Poor Erica really got it with the cuts. After the scene of
Andrew's watchmaker talk, there's another of Lucy going to the
hospital to visit her mom. Erica looks quite bad off.
But Lucy is smiling cause she thinks she's figured her paper
out. She quotes something (whether her paper or her
research, I'm not sure) saying that several recent scientific
discoveries support the idea of Intelligent Design. Lucy is
troubled when she looks over and it appears Erica is drifting to
sleep. Erica rouses and explains that she's having trouble
focusing. Tess enters and suggests Lucy do this another
time. But Lucy tells them that the paper is due
tomorrow. Erica asks her if she's happy with it. Lucy
says yes and that she put a lot of science into it so her dad
should like that. Erica smiles weakly and says "Good, turn
it in." Lucy looks at her gravely as she turns her head to
sleep. Then it briefly goes to a scene of John's students
turning in their papers. The camera zooms in on one:
"Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design" by Lucy.
Looking ticked, John looks at the paper and then the departing
Lucy. *Then* it goes to Monica's classroom. The bell
rings. The kids leave but Lucy approaches Monica. She
hands in her "When It Gets Dark, the Stars Come Out" paper.
The two exchange smiles. Finally, the cut scenes end with
John slapping the ID paper on the table and yelling at Lucy.
Further on down the road...
This is just one of those days when watching endless amounts
of TV sounds like a good idea. So here goes!
Just yesterday a friend and I were talking about the importance of
keeping an eye out for God's messages in nature. Perfect
episode to demonstrate that!
This episode is a prime example of why I believe atheists are not
automatically hellbound. Let's face it: there aren't many of
us who have angels drop into our lives in obvious ways. It
probably happens fairly often that an atheist parent shoots down
the beginnings of faith in their child. Just think of how
often it happens that a theist parent goes off the wall when their
child questions a matter of faith. Some people just can't
deal with anything but easy agreement. Anyway, let's say
Lucy didn't have the revelation scene or maybe not any angels
dropping into her school at all. She'd have no one to
balance her father. True, she could come into contact with
people of faith. Likely she will. But will any of them
ever carry the weight of her father in determining her
outlook? Maybe. But maybe not. Regardless, I
think it's gonna be far more difficult for her to build and
maintain a faith with John as her major influence as opposed to me
with my two Catholic parents. I think God takes all of this
into account when we come to Him when our lives end here.
Otherwise He'd be majorly disadvantaging certain people by having
them born to parents who are either atheist or just pretty silent
on the matter... or both as Lucy has.
Monica reading poetry just isn't the same as Andrew reading
poetry... Actually, I have Roma's "Healing Angel" CD and
she's wonderful on that. But there just doesn't seem to be
much going on with her reading of Whitman. Very little
emotion in her voice.... which is, of course, beautiful. But
I just don't feel it.
So I'm quite adamantly Christian. However... I still don't
know that I think a science paper is an appropriate venue for
trying to prove the existence of God. I agree with Monica
that the topic is worthy of discussion. Absolutely!
But writing a paper really isn't discussion. I guess I'd
need to see the paper to see if, on top of arguing the God
question, it actually demonstrated knowledge of science which is
what should be the focus in a science class. I've read some
great books that blend the two. But I just wonder about a
high school class paper pulling that off. I guess my concern
would be that Lucy might just write "None of these scientific
theories negate the possibly of God. The end." I agree
that this is true. But neither that nor even Andrew's lovely
watch metaphor demonstrate any actual intellectual mastery of
science. It's a great exercise in philosophy and how to
build an argument but it doesn't demonstrate that she knows what
the theory of relativity states or what tectonic plates do.
Or I dunno. Maybe I just think it's missing the point of
faith. God is both in science and beyond science. I
guess maybe Monica encouraging Lucy to show her mother the report
for her own class kinda demonstrates this.
I really don't think this marriage is healthy... If you
don't feel comfortable talking about something important to you
because your husband might freak, I think that's a problem.
A pluses didn't exist at my high school. A was the highest
grade you could get. Was my school weird or do A pluses not
usually exist at the high school level but Monica just loved the
paper that much?
This episode reminds me of this C.S. Lewis quote: “If we find
ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another
world.” I love that. And the "C.S. Lewis Song" by
Brooke Fraser that it inspired.
the Episode Guide
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