Gospel According to Glee – 40 Days at McKinley High
Day 15 – Friday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
To Read: (Series 2 Episode 6)
[David KAROFSKY is part of the School Football Team who is the cheerleader of the ‘Slushie’ brigade against the Glee Club. He and others also frequently throw Kurt into the school skip and always slams Kurt against his locker when walking past him…]
KURT: What is your problem?
KAROFSKY: You talking back to me? You want a piece of the Fury?
KURT: The Fury?
KAROFSKY: It’s what I named my fist.
KURT: Well, with that level of creativity, you could easily become assistant manager at a Rendering Plant.
KAROFSKY: I don’t know what that is, but if I find out it’s bad, the Fury’s gonna find you.
[KURT visits Dalton Academy to spy on their Choir but ends up sharing coffee with them and receives encouragement to stand up against bullying from BLAINE Anderson. Later KAROFSKY slams Kurt into his locker again…]
KURT: Hey! I am talking to you!
KAROFSKY: Girls locker room’s next door.
KURT: What is your problem?
KAROFSKY: Excuse me?
KURT: What are you so scared of?
KAROFSKY: Besides you sneaking in here to peek at my junk?
KURT: Oh yeah, every straight guy’s nightmare, that all us gays are secretly out to molest and convert you. Well guess what, Hammerhawk? You’re not my type.
KAROFSKY: That right?
KURT: Yeah. I don’t like chubby boys who sweat too much and are gonna be bald by the time they’re thirty.
KAROFSKY: Do not push me, Hummel.
KURT: You gonna hit me? Do it.
KAROFSKY: Don’t push me!
KURT: Hit me, ’cause it’s not gonna change who I am. You can’t punch the gay out of me anymore than I can push the ignoramus out of you.
KAROFSKY: Get out of my face!
KURT: You are nothing but a scared little boy who can’t handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are!
[KAROFSKY leans towards KURT and kisses him]
To Watch: Trigger Warning: This video deals with an attempted suicide.
‘Cough Syrup’ sung by Blaine Anderson
(Series 3 Episode 14)
Original Artist: Young the Giant
From the Scriptures:
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you…
38 ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5v11,38-42)
Undoubtedly David Karofsky, in common with many bullies has a reason behind his bullying activity. His sad story of being unable to emerge from the closet and his eventual ‘outing’ leads to a suicide attempt after he transfers to another school (the episode shown in today’s song clip). As is the way with TV land, ‘All’s well that ends well,’ but it is not the same in life nor, sadly, in the church.
Although this scene deals particularly with homophobia, bullying happens in all sorts of circumstances and places. It needs to be called out. It needs to be challenged. It needs to be named for what it is, a crime. But our faith says, ‘walk the other mile, turn the other cheek, if you’re persecuted (bullied) you will be blessed’. How do we square the circle between being humble and being humiliated, being a servant and being a doormat?
It is not easy. Our Beloved counsels us to be the servant of all knowing full well that this carries a cross-shaped cost. Is there no place for anger? Jesus, though he counselled against being angry was angered himself (Mark 3v5). Perhaps it is not anger that we should worry about as much as revenge?
It is a difficult tightrope to walk. If we are to live the gospel life and call out injustice and the inhuman treatment of the marginalised, people will be angry with us just as much as they were angry with Jesus. If we do not call out injustices can we honestly say that we are followers of the One who came to:
proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
But beware, proclaiming righteousness provokes anger because it exposes prejudice.
Even if we suspect our beliefs are wrong and inhuman, no one likes to discover that what they have lived by and for was wrong. Having lived through some of the dark years of Apartheid in South Africa I could not believe how ingrained the belief that Black people were sub-human was amongst some of my friends and even amongst fellow clergy, who even used Scripture verse to prove that Apartheid was God’s plan!
We can offer coaching and teaching (if you haven’t looked at Unconscious/Implicit Bias Training please do). We can criminalise bullying behaviour and legislate against Hate Crime. We can declare some human characteristics as being protected but this will not always change people. They may even drive people into closets that are deeper and darker and more dangerous than the one Karofsky has been living in.
How then, do we call out bullying and Hate Crime in a Christian Manner?
We need what Walter Wink describes as a Third Way. A choice other than violent opposition or passive submission. This is the Third Way of Non-violent resistance is that practised by Mohandas Gandhi and his policy of satyagraha. It was championed by Martin Luther King Jr and the peaceful protest and civil disobedience he led in the USA in the 1950s. I witnessed this ‘Third Way’ first hand in the gentle loving laughing refusal of my beloved friend Desmond Tutu to accept that anyone was inferior to another as he helped bring the Rainbow Nation that is the new South Africa to birth.
We will all respond to bullying and hate in different ways but to be faithful to our Beloved the last thing we can do is be indifferent. To say or do nothing not only permits the suffering of the victim to continue but gives up any possibility of the oppressor finding redemption and so allows the cycle of violence to continue unbroken.
Great God, who has told us
‘Vengeance is mine,’ save us from ourselves,
save us from the vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.
Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.
Give us the strength it takes
to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again
to make peace even when peace eludes us.
We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision
to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people
to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.
Give us the depth of soul, O God,
to constrain our might,
to resist the temptations of power
to refuse to attack the attackable,
to understand that vengeance begets violence,
and to bring peace – not war – wherever we go.
- Is there one particular sort of prejudice that affects you or someone you love personally? Find out ways of becoming an advocate for change in that situation. (If you are a member of the Church of England please have a look at the work of MOSAIC and consider whether it would be an organisation whose aims you could support).
- Be honest with yourself and search out any prejudice within you or anything that on reflection you now consider to be bullying. Try to make reparations for the harm you have caused.
PLEASE NOTE: If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of a Hate Crime please get in touch with a Support Group or the authorities. Stop Hate UK helps to organise the National Hate Crime Awareness Week in the United Kingdom and are a good place for advice. No one should be bullied and hated simply for being who they are.
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 gleetranscripts.tumblr.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