Monday, January 29, 2007

Masked Mom's Media Monday: One Punk Under God

I'm not sure how I'm going to talk about a mini-series called One Punk Under God about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (Messner)'s son Jay, without getting into a discussion of religion in general, but that's my goal. Religion, like anything we are passionate about, can rarely be discussed calmly and rationally--perhaps because so much of faith and belief comes from some place not entirely rational--and while it's possible for people who care about one another to agree to disagree, the Internet is full of people who don't really care about each other and many who are just looking for a fight and the opportunity to flaunt their own faith or belief (usually in the form of harshly judging those who dare to be different from themselves).*

As so often happens, I found the mini-series One Punk Under God purely by accident. Our cable package includes a Sundance Channel "sampler" where you can watch selected shows "on demand" for free and I was flipping idly through one afternoon and thought the title was intriguing.

Five minutes in, I was completely charmed by Jay Bakker, who may look a little "punk"--tattooed and pierced, but who is soft-spoken and utterly sincere in his religious searching and in the comfort he tries to provide for the members of his own church Revolution. (During one sermon, he says, "We're not here to judge you, we're just here to love on you.") The piercings and the tattoos as well as his prematurely balding head are a contrast to his little boy lost manner. He is human and vulnerable and uncertain and completely unafraid to show it. Like his father, he is a minister. Unlike his father, he was not called to the sterile world of TV studios but to the streets.

We also get to see glimpses of his relationship with his father, who has a new show of his own, and his mother, who suffers from Stage 4 cancer. He is extremely close to his mom, visiting her often and speaking to her regularly. His relationship with his father is more strained and restrained.

The six episodes of the series show Jay and his wife Amanda preparing to move from Atlanta to New York where she will continue her education as well as Tammy Faye's worsening health and Jay's attempts to reconnect with his father.

Considering it was something I never meant to watch, I found the show fascinating and, dorky as it sounds, touching.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Surprising.

PS--If you're interested, clips from the episodes are available at and can be purchased and downloaded from iTunes.

*The harsh judgment isn't in any way one-sided. I've seen atheists who are just as judgmental in their own way as the rabid fundamentalists. It goes back to wanting everyone else to believe what you believe, I guess.

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