The Bible: Topping the Charts Again

I don’t watch tv very often. Too busy.

But when I do, I ignore the network channels altogether. The only exception is when we’re under a tornado alert. Then I watch Gary England on Channel 9 to learn which way to duck.

Other than that, I spend most of my viewing time in the bigger numbers on the viewing chart, far away from the oddball take on the world that the network channels provide. But I do read about television from time to time. (Go figure.) What I’ve read says that “viewers” are attracted to more up-to-date entertainment with lots of cursing, sex and degrading insults to women.


Maybe the reason “viewers” tend to watch these shows is because they are the only shows being offered, and the kind of “viewers” who don’t like this trashy entertainment don’t watch at all. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t watch network programming. In fact, I know I’m not. In my circle — and that includes, family and friends — no one watches network programming.

We do however, all of us, every single one of us, watch Gary England when tornadoes are flying.

Some of the rest of us (Not me. Not my girlfriends.) watch football. But that’s really it for our network tv viewing. The reason? There aren’t any shows on that we want to see. We aren’t entertained by what they’ve got. We tend to be insulted and disgusted by it. 

All this is a lead up to the surprising news that the series the Bible scored another hit this week. It came in first, beating out 60 Minutes, and The Walking Dead.

Now, who, in this “post-Christian” world would have predicted that? After all, isn’t the Bible (the book, not the show) irrelevant, out-of-date and totally embarrassing? 

I remember shortly after Mel Gibson’s smash hit The Passion of the Christ came out, whoever it is that makes these decisions evidently decided that there was gold in that religion stuff. They put on a “Jesus” miniseries, presumably to try to cash in. My family tried to watch it, but we couldn’t make it through the first 15 minutes. Ever since then, “surfer Jesus” has been a joke line around our house to refer to the lame way that the networks approach our faith. 

Now that I’ve typed that line, it all comes clear. No wonder we don’t watch network tv. Except for tornadoes and football, the people who decide what to put on network tv don’t “get” us. I’m sure that they would regard me and mine as a bunch of religious fanatic, unwashed, redneck hill-billies to whom the truth has not yet come.

The odd part is that we feel kinda the same way about them.

An article from The Baptist Press describing the success of the Bible series says in part:

NASHVILLE (BP) — History Channel’s “The Bible” miniseries climbed back into the top slot in its third week Sunday (March 17), finishing No. 1 for the night among all broadcast and cable programs thanks to an increase in viewership. 
The episode drew 10.9 million viewers, better than its previous week of 10.8 million. It bested AMC’s “Walking Dead” (10.8 million) and CBS’ “60 Minutes” (10.2 million). 

The series was No. 1 among broadcast and cable shows in its first week but dropped to No. 3 in its second week. 

Unlike most History Channel documentaries — which generally cast a skeptical eye on the truthfulness of Scripture — the five-part, 10-hour miniseries has placed the Bible in a more positive light. The final two episodes will be broadcast over the next two weeks, wrapping up on Easter Sunday.  (Read the rest here.)

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  • neenergyobserver

    Done right, and this series is pretty close, it’s still “the greatest story ever told”, and for cliche number 2: if they make it, we will watch. :-)

    • Rebecca Hamilton


  • Dale

    The conventional wisdom is that, in the US, we have been living through a golden age of television. However, almost all of the quality shows are on cable/satellite channels and not on the broadcast networks. I haven’t watched television in a few years, so I can’t assess that viewpoint. However, I do wonder if the smaller audience of cable channels doesn’t make it easier for them to produce shows with more limited appeal.

    Of course, a respectful series on the Bible would appeal to a large portion of the US public, so I can’t explain why such a series didn’t appear on broadcast television. Still, it is nice to hear of programming during Lent/Easter which is not dismissive of religion. As the BP article notes, most History Channel fare casts a skeptical eye on topics involving faith.

  • Janice Oliver

    All the “surfer Jesus” shows as you say, had me saying to myself as I refer to them as (made for hollywood Jesus movies) or better yet the documentaries that do not follow the bible, well here goes another that will get it wrong! This one happily is refreshing and as you say Rebecca has been put in a more positive light. I was astonished to learn how many people watched the first episode! 30,000 people! It gave me hope that perhaps more people are turning to Christ in their times of need instead of worldly fixes.
    And responding to your question of other people not watching network tv, I recently gave up my cable and home phone. I have the internet only and use Netflix for movies and hulu if I do want to watch a show. I do not miss tv at all. Besides, it gives me more time to spend with Jesus!

  • about empower network

    You might not take action. You might lose interest in things quickly. You might be lazy. You might be one of those people who says you’re willing to do what we say, but when you’re shown what needs to be done, you simply don’t do it or do something completely different.

  • Jeremy A. Ingle

    Totally on-board with you 100% with regard to network TV garbage. We live out on the Oklahoma Prairie and don’t have satellite or cable, so all we’re left with is the local networks that we can pick up. Most of it is such garbage (Except for that rare instance of Archbishop Fulton Sheen appearing on “The Church Channel”) that we rarely watch anything at all except pre-recorded movies.
    That said, I find it interesting how so many Protestant groups were so happy with “The Passion of the Christ” considering how Catholic it was…even down to the traditional scene of St. Veronica wiping the Face of Christ. Now, the Protestants are once again giddy about this new miniseries, even though it was produced by Catholic (CINO) Mark Burnett. I’ve read that this particular version follows the edited/censored 66-book Protestant canon of scripture as opposed to the whole 73-book Catholic canon. Perhaps this is why they like the new series so much?

  • pagansister

    I watched The Bible to see what is what it was like, curious. Also, the night it started there was nothing I wanted to watch on the other stations. Skipped the 2nd episode, then watched part of the 3rd. Not sure if I will watch again. The stories were familiar. I’m a big fan of PBS—the Masterpiece Classics, Mysteries etc. I do admit to having some network shows that I follow—none being the “reality” shows.

  • Pete Mc Nesbit

    Watched it for awhile then thought why in the heck are all the “good” people so light skinned and all the “bad” dark complected. Don’t get me wrong I understand that are of the world is a polyglot of peoples now, but heck even the Romans at the time as today are a bit swarthy. At least they didn’t show the blond haired blued eyed Jesus, that so many people seem to think was the norm for the area.