Friday, May 15, 2009

Family Guy: A Crude Reality

Family Guy: A Crude Reality: No cartoon series has had a bigger impact on the world of cable television than Family Guy. Sure, there are other cartoon shows like South Park and The Simpsons, but Family Guy currently airs on as many as four channels during the week. In 2008, creator of the series, Seth MacFarlane, became the highest paid television writer in history after signing a four-year, $100-million contract with FOX. Given Family Guy's liberal slant, Rupert Murdoch, current Chairman and CEO of News Corporation (owner of the FOX network), clearly put business over politics. Part of what makes the show popular is its controversial depiction of middle-class family life. Nothing in American culture, especially Christianity and conservatism, is safe from the sarcastic commentary that arises from characters on the show. In fact, the show frequently uses cutaway gags and tangential vignettes to illustrate certain points. Another common feature of Family Guy involves the blatant self-awareness of characters who know that they are on television. Otherwise known as metahumor or "breaking the fourth wall," such a tactic merely enhances the comedic response from viewers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Half-Way Covenant

Half-Way Covenant: Conceived by New England Puritans in 1662 as a means to incorporate partial church membership, the Half-Way Covenant offered a viable alternative for congregants to participate in ecclesiastic circles without having had an authentic "conversion experience." Reverend Solomon Stoddard advocated this doctrine in order to extend the church's influence throughout the Puritan community, which was becoming evermore impious due to the growing commercialization of New England in the late seventeenth century. The central problem, however, rested with the third generation of Puritan settlers, whose religious affinities seemed increasingly aloof. Less parishioners received baptism, and thus, the rights to exercise the church's fundamental dogma. Therefore, ministers preached warnings of moral decay, otherwise known as "jeremiads" after the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah, as a great fear of societal declension swept through the colony. Often cited as one of the first religious crises in early America, the controversy surrounding the Half-Way Covenant served as a precursor to the First Great Awakening, which entailed Reverend Jonathan Edwards delivering his notorious Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God sermon in 1741.