Gospel According to Glee – 40 Days at McKinley High
Day 7 – Wednesday after 1st Sunday of Lent
To Read: (Series 1 Episode 17 – this scene is included in the song link below)
[Jesse left Vocal Adrenaline, a choir in competition with New Directions, to date Rachel but in an effort to be seen as more edgy she records a video with him, Puck and Finn starring as her boyfriend; this upsets all of them]
RACHEL: Hi. Are you still mad at me?
JESSE: You know, before I transferred here to make you my girlfriend… I asked around about you, found out your rep, what kind of girl you were.
RACHEL: What did they say?
JESSE: Most of them had no idea who you were. The ones that did said you were kind of sneaky hot but that that quality was cancelled out by a compulsive need to be right and a strange affinity for sweaters with animals on them. The most interesting part was that even though no one particularly liked you they all said you were a person who could be trusted.
RACHEL: I still am! I have this pathological need to be popular, okay? I just want people to think I’m cool so bad sometimes that it just clouds my judgment. As a fellow star in the making, I’m sure you can understand that.
JESSE: On that level, sure. As the guy who gave up everything to be your one and only. I just can’t see past this. I should have been enough for you, Rachel. I knew you’d break my heart. Well, that’s the funny thing about reputations. Everyone thinks I’m the big heartbreaker but the fact of the matter is you broke mine first. Do me a favour. If we end up next to each other on the bar
at Ballet Club this week just do your arabesques and piqués in silence. Don’t talk to me.
‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ sung by Rachel, Finn, and Jesse.
Original Artist: Bonnie Tyler
From the Scriptures:
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
(Isaiah 53 v. 1-3)
In the world of pop publicity where the cult of celebrity is the only religion it is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. It is better to be famous for being bad than to not be famous at all. In today’s episode Rachel is upset that her name is last on the Glist – a piece of school gossip which lists members of the Glee Club by how promiscuous they are. Desperate to be in the news for any reason (I have this pathological need to be popular) she ruins her relationship with not just her boyfriend but with two of her old flames as well.
Most of us prefer popularity to being ignored. Not being noticed, neglected as ordinary, the last person anyone thinks about (as it is presumed you are always available), and consistently being the last person chosen for a sports team sucks! It is no wonder that everyone so often an ‘ordinary’ adolescent ‘acts up’ as the peer pressure to conform to be popular is immense.
Looking back at my time in Boarding School I was only ever in trouble with the staff (in those days it meant being caned) when I did something out of character to be part of the ‘in crowd’. Conversely I was also at my most lonely and isolated when I refused to ‘go with the flow’ and stood by my principles. Fifty years later I can value those lessons in life-craft but they hurt like crazy whilst I was learning them!
Our Beloved, when faced with the clamour of the crowd chose to walk in righteousness and for his pains was despised and rejected, beaten and crucified, and even his dead body was mutilated with a spear. It can be very costly to walk the path of righteousness when our ears are tickled by the clamour of the crowd and resist our ‘pathological need to be popular’…
Many people who follow a vocation, be it in religion or medicine, the law or the arts, have a pathological need to be popular. We, I am one of the first to admit this, very often need to be needed and face the genuine temptation of going above and beyond our call to satisfy that need. The compilers of the 39 Articles of Religion called this Works of Supererogation. It may start out as well intentioned but in the end becomes a ‘look at me’ contest – which then descends into the heresy of salvation by works.
How do we counter this? After there is so much that needs doing and did not our Lord say, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few?’ Jesus’ antidote for this problem was not to work the current labourers harder but instead to command his disciples to ‘ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest’. (Matthew 9.35-37). If we could but find others with whom to share the labour then perhaps our ‘pathological need to be popular’, our need to be needed, will assuaged by being part of a fellowship of those journeying together?
One of the mantras of pop religion is, ‘I do not need to go to church to be a Christian’. To some extent I have to agree. After all in some countries where persecution persists it is a life threatening decision to go to church and our sisters and brothers in such places should be frequently in our prayers. However if we can be part of a church fellowship and choose not to we will find the journey difficult, our faith a struggle, and will be tempted to do and say things to get us noticed. This is not the faith of the One who chose rejection over compliance. It is Little Jack Horner theology, wherein we sit all alone in our separate corners eating plums and proclaiming ourselves to be good boys and girls.
The antidote to our ‘pathological need to be popular’, is not found in doing more to be noticed but in finding our place in a company of faith where each is cherished as a beloved child of the One Who Loves us Best. And in being made welcome we will come to see the deep truth of the African Proverb uMuntu nguMuntu ngaBantu – We become who we are because of others.
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colours
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skilful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
(Corrie ten Boom)
- In your church fellowship try to pass a task you hold onto a fellow labourer in the harvest.
- Notice how often you use the words, ‘me, my, mine’. What would it cost to say ‘we, us, ours’ in their place more often?
Reprise: Click here to watch the original version of today’s song
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Transcripts of Glee Episodes were made with thanks to subslikescripts.com
These Reflections, ‘ ‘Gospel According to Glee’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged