The Downton Abbey Dilemma

Downton AbbeyI’m a Downton Abbey addict. I don’t really watch prime time television at all, you see, except that someone turned me onto this PBS Masterpiece series from Great Britain a few years ago and I just love, love, love it. But there wasn’t really ever a good reason to blog about this passion on a site about barrenness–until now.

This past week’s episode included a scene where Lady Mary is discussing how to change the home’s old nursery into a sitting room for herself and her new husband Matthew. Matthew, who heard that Lady Mary had been to see the doctor recently, gently touches his wife’s arm and, with a twinkle in his eye, wants to know when they should possibly be thinking about using the nursery as a nursery (as if she had some kind of control over this in 1920). Lady Mary nervously shrugs off his comment and casually replies, “Oh, there will be time enough for that later.” In true Downton Abbey form, this brief exchange foreshadows a new storyline that will inevitably take more shape in upcoming episodes. The audience is left to ponder these two questions: 1) Is Lady Mary embarrassed that she is not yet pregnant after being married for several months now? or 2) Is Lady Mary not particularly interested in having children and knows that this attitude will not sit well with her husband?

The dilemma that I face is that I may never know the answers. This is a difficult pill for an addict to swallow.

Why can’t I just tune in next week and the week after to find out? No, my TV is not broken, nor do I have any social responsibilities scheduled for Sunday nights. It’s because the producers of the show have decided to reintroduce the fact that one of the servants is gay, and his sexuality (which was implied but rather brushed over at the beginning of the series) is now going to be featured as a storyline. In watching some interviews with the cast on YouTube I discovered a little more about what’s to come, seeing as how there is a new and rather attractive footman who’s joined the show who has caught the eye of more than just the housemaids. There won’t just be talk anymore about homosexuality. There will be scenes. Downton Abbey is about to join the rest of prime time’s sleazy line-up.

The thing that gets me is that one of the main reasons I adored the show was because it takes place during an era where honor, integrity, and morality were thought of highly. Of course it wouldn’t be modern television if some of the characters didn’t fall from grace, but these indiscretions were not shown, and there was regret and embarrassment after the fact. There was confession and forgiveness demonstrated within the family. I found that refreshing. So refreshing, in fact, that the disgust over the upcoming storyline is not enough to make me truly want to wash my hands of the whole program. I keep pondering the other storylines and it kills me when I think about not being able to follow them. This is what addiction means.

I’m finding that these kinds of dilemmas are becoming more common for the modern Christian, and because there is so much good wrapped up with a little bit of filth, we often feel it’s ridiculous to make such a fuss. Take for instance a mother of an only son who loves him so dearly and wants so desperately to keep peace within her family that she bites her tongue when he announces that he is living with his girlfriend. It’s not what she would have wanted and she knows it’s not right, but he’s such a good son and a responsible young man, etc. They’ll probably get married anyway.  Or what about the father whose daughter has suffered for so long with barrenness that he sees no point in asking too many questions when she announces that she is pregnant following an IVF procedure. He wouldn’t have recommended this procedure, but she hadn’t asked for his advice and the procedure is over so why bring it up? Afterall, a child is on the way!

Living the Christian life is hard. Having an active conscience is stressful. It makes you unpopular and you often feel like you’re missing out on the fun. Don’t think I haven’t tried to find ways around this problem. It’s very possible that Downton Abbey may not focus on the gay servant next week. I don’t know when this is going to happen. I might be able to get a few more episodes in. I could find a friend whose conscience is not so burdened and ask for the summaries after each episode to make sure I know what’s going on. Or I could find the summaries online somewhere, I’m sure.

Such are the musings of an addict.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions (addictions??) of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV

Wow. I’ve been “ransomed from the futile ways” of my forefathers “with the precious blood of Christ.” This is vivid imagery. And speaking of imagery, I know that, just as I ponder all the possible outcomes of the innocent storylines of Downton, if I keep watching this show I will be thinking about all the storylines, and those scenes that are inevitably coming will be imprinted on my mind. Do I want to be thinking about these things?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

If I find out that the offending storyline ends at some point soon, I may make my way back to the Abbey. I know there is a season 4 coming up. Perhaps there’s still hope. In the meantime, I’ll have more time to read on Sunday evenings I guess. Oh, but how I will miss them all!