Gospel According to Glee – 40 Days at McKinley High
Day 31 – Wednesday after 5th Sunday of Lent
To Read: (Series 3 Episode 20)
[Coach BEISTE married COOTER Menkins a scout for Ohio State football team but he is a bully and beats her up physically as well as emotionally. She is advised by the other coaches to leave him but only after she has a heart to heart with PUCK – see more below – does she find the strength to leave]
COOTER: Hey, baby. I got us a couple of pies. [pizzas] Hawaiian, your favourite. I’m sorry, Shannon. You know how sorry I am. There’s this, guy from Michigan has been poaching every kid I took a sniff of and everyone’s on my ass and, if I’m being totally honest… I’m always feeling like I’m disappointing you. And… it doesn’t matter. You know why? ‘Cause I know I can’t lose my cool anymore, and I won’t. I promise.
Oh, come on, baby, sit down.
We’re celebrating. You remember that, uh, that bear of a lineman I told you I was hot on from Newton South? Got him to sign on the dotted line!
Come on, baby. You got my word.
[BEISTE picks up a stage knife she confiscated from PUCK]
COOTER: What, are you gonna stab me?
BEISTE: Not with that one. It’s fake. Maybe the big one in the kitchen. The one I’ve been sleeping with at night under my pillow.
COOTER: Oh, God. Baby, I’m so sorry. I mean, how did we let it get so out of hand?
BEISTE: I’m out. I got shame about what happened between us, but I leave that here with my ring and with you.
COOTER: Oh, please, please. Don’t… don’t leave me, okay? You can’t hate me anymore than I already hate myself.
BEISTE: I don’t hate you! That’s the awful part of it. I love you! But what does that say about what I think of me?
COOTER: [Throws food off the table].
What are you gonna do, huh, just walk out on me?
Who’s going to love you the way I loved you, Shannon?
Who’s going to love you now?
‘Mean’ sung by Puck and Coach Beiste
Original Artist: Taylor Swift
From the Scriptures:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13v4-7)
Coach Beiste and Puck, though they may seem to have very different moral compasses have one thing in common. They both have a persona of being tough and people who mess with them need to watch out. However this leaves very little room for failure and no space at all to be vulnerable. So Puck, failing his final exams and being bested in a fight, and Beiste, in an abusive marriage gaslit and blamed for Cooter’s rage, find themselves singing an unlikely duet about how they will conquer those who are ‘mean’
Coach Beiste stands firm and realises that love is not shown with fists, and rage, and blame giving – no matter how many times a favourite meal is brought to make up or protestations of forgiveness are offered. Love is about allowing the other person to bloom rather than using them to feed your ego.
No one knows who first coined the phrase;
If you love something
set it free.
If it comes back
it never was,
It reads like something from Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull) we do not know. I am fairly certain that while someone is held in thrall to the selfish ‘love’ and abuse of another they will never, unlike Jonathan, ever be able to fly.
The proverb proclaims a self-evident truth. We love people, are attracted to them, because they ‘fit’ in the gaps in our lives that we cannot fill ourselves. It is a truism that ‘opposites attract’ and all who fall in love should expect their beloved to not be their identical twin. If we seek to be fulfilled it becomes the height of foolishness, and detrimental to all concerned, to force, coerce, bully and beat that ‘other’ person to be anything other than who they are.
It is with great sadness that down the ages the church has been found to be complicit with such bullying and abuse and even to this day uses scripture verses about children submitting to punishment – spare the rod and spoil the child – and wives being obedient to all of her husband’s commands and desires, no matter how vile, as a sign of righteousness.
Christ did not suffer and die on the cross of Calvary so that parts of His Body, notably the young and the female, the poor and the dark skinned, should be emotionally and physically beaten into submission in His Name. This is not, and never can be righteous. It is unmitigated evil and churches which perpetuate such abuse should be named, shamed, and if necessary closed down. I write this in full knowledge of the fact that my own denomination has, again and again, failed the young, the poor, and women to serve the desires of entitled White men.
What are we to do to change things?
How are we to become places of safety and freedom for all?
Here are some suggestions;
The international group Restored has produced a resource pack for churches which should be on every vicar’s, priest’s, and pastor’s bookshelf. Why not get a copy for your own church?
Be diligent about ensuring Safeguarding compliance in your fellowship. No Christian should feel offended to have to complete legal checks and training to ensure that their church is a safe place for all.
Refuse to become complicit in conspiracies of silence. Concerns must be passed on or else we simply give the abuser permission to continue.
Admit errors and seek to make reparations.
And most important of all, listen to the voices of victims. Abuse is added to abuse when someone with a wounded and bleeding soul, if not body as well, comes to the church leaders asking for succour and our default position is to presume they are telling lies.
Our Scripture reading today must become our lodestone for life. Whenever we find ourselves going against its call and are; envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, self-serving, irritable, resentful or content with wrongdoing, we should fall to our knees in penitence asking forgiveness of those we have wronged, commit ourselves to change and work actively for the healing of the wounded
Or, as the teacher of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull put it;
‘Keep working on love.’
I arise today
through a mighty strength:
God’s power to guide me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s eyes to watch over me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to give me speech,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to shelter me,
God’s host to secure me.
(St. Bridget of Kildare)
- Find out about the work of Restored and other agencies that aim to help churches be havens of healing for the abused instead of places of pain.
- If you have suffered abuse these words will have been hard to read. I do not know your circumstances and I may not be the right person to offer you any help but know this; today you have my tears and love and a candle burns for you in St John’s Church, Felixstowe.
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.