February 26, 2009
Have you ever wanted to discuss a topic with the young people you work and wondered if “The Simpsons” had anything to say about it?
Have you wondered how you would find this out apart from watching every episode?
Well this is the resource for you. Over the next few months I plan to view every episode of ‘the world’s favourite family’ and list the themes that are brought up.
You will be able to search by episode or by theme.
If you are interested in helping me in this endeavour, let me know.
December 7, 2009
“I Married Marge”
Picking up where The Way We Was left off….The year is 1980, and Homer is working at the local miniature golfing course, living with Marge’s parents, and dating Marge. Then Marge becomes pregnant with Bart.
Shame/ Self Image/ Failure
After Marge gets pregnant, Homer attempts to find a better pay job but fails at everything he tries and eventually the Repo men come to take their possessions away. Homer is so ashamed that he cannot provide for his family that he leaves.
There are many things we can feel ashamed for but we should never be ashamed of failure. We mess up all the time and what is important is that we learn from the mistakes we make and move on from them.
For Homer though he is ashamed because he believes that as a husband and as a father he should be able to provide for his family and when he can’t he is wracked with guilt. Homer’s self image is found in what he does. He believes that you are only worth something if you can provide for your family. Where is your sense of self found? What is it that gives your young people self confidence?
We are often told by our culture that in order to be successful we must either be rich or famous. The rise of reality TV shows testifies to this. When the contestants of ‘X-Factor’ are asked what their dream is, they respond, “to be famous”. That’s what is deemed successful. And we feel bad about ourselves if we don’t meet that standard. Talk about this with your young people.
Do they think it’s okay to fail? What do they deem as successful?
November 9, 2009
“Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk”
Homer finds that his job as `safety inspector’ is in danger when Mr. Burns sells the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to German businessmen for $100,000,000.
Homer loses his job because Mr Burns decides to sell his plant for $100,000,000.
We are still working our way out of the recession. Hundreds of people around the world have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new ones. This is the price people pay when others are only interested in money.
George Cadbury saw how oppressed other workers were at factories and decided to start a chocolate factory that honoured the teachings of the bible. He gave free health and dental care to all his employees and regularly closed the factory early so his employees could play cricket. When the factory had to move, he moved all the employees and their families as well. he built them a town surrounding the plant with shops and leisure facilities.
How many business men do we see doing that today? It’s well documented that the reason we are in this mess is because of greed and this episode of “the simpsons” highlights this theme well for young people. What sort of people do your young people want to grow up into? How do they view money? What is life all about? Jesus said quite a bit about money and the effect it can have on people. How are you going to help your young people be more like George Cadbury?
November 2, 2009
Homer helps invent the hottest drink in Springfield. However, when Moe steals the recipe and turns Moe’s Tavern into the hottest spot in Springfield, Homer vows revenge.
What would you do if you were in Homer’s shoes? Do you think Homer was right to blurt out the recipe?
The world is such a place that sometimes things are going to happen to us that aren’t just. It’s the way things are. What’s important is how we choose to deal with it. How would you have dealt with Moe? Have any of your young people ever experienced any kind of injustice? How did they react?
November 2, 2009
“Saturdays of Thunder”
In order to build a father/son relationship, Homer helps Bart build a soapbox racer. However, when Martin crashes his racer during the time trials, Bart must make an important decision: Turn his back on his father and be Martin’s replacement driver, or race in his soapbox and let Nelson win.
Have you ever had to make a tough decision? In this episode of “The Simpsons”, Bart has to decide whether to drive in the soapbox racer him and Homer built or ride Martins.
His choice deeply affects Homer. Sometimes we don’t realise the effects our decisions have on other people. Talk to your youth group about how they go about making decisions. What factors do they take into consideration? Do they ever discuss their choices with others before they make a decision?
Jesus said that we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Does this or anything else written in the bible have any impact on the kind of choices we make?
October 26, 2009
After disappointing Lisa, again, Homer finally gives Lisa a pony. Now, in desperation to pay off the bills associated with owning a pony, Homer works the graveyard shift at Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart.
In order to buy Lisa’s love back, Homer buys her a pony but then has to get another job to pay for it.
We live in a culture that revolves around ‘wants’. In order to feel good or “in” we buy the latest goods with money we don’t have. We become machines whose sole duty is to fund the luxuries that give us our identity.
Pretty bleak isn’t it? But for most people it’s the truth even though they don’t realise it. Homer wants himself almost to death so that Lisa will love him. Is that really what life is all about? The commandment to keep the Sabbath holy wasn’t just another law God was throwing it, it was to show people that life shouldn’t revolve around working to fund our “wants”. This spits in the face of our western consuming society. Do your young people want more to life than this? Chat about it.
October 26, 2009
“Like Father, Like Clown”
Krusty finally drops by to have dinner with the Simpsons to thank Bart for believing him (see Krusty Gets Busted), and drops a bombshell: He real name is Krustofsky, and he is estranged from his rabbi father, who disowned him when Krusty decided to be a clown instead of a rabbi. Now, Bart vows to reunite Klown and rabbi.
Although Krusty promised to have dinner at Barts’ house, he has consistently broken that promise and cancelled on several occasions.
How important is your word? How important is someone else’s word? When you agree to do something for someone else, how seriously do you take it? A lot of questions, I know, but there are important none the less. Promises are something we just don’t keep very often. Ask your young people how many of them have made a promise and how many have ultimately broken one.
Have a discussion about whether people believe it when someone promises to do something for them and how they feel when a promise is broken. The people in the Old Testament made many promises to God and Him to them. Who kept their side of the bargain? Can we trust God’s promises? What are God’s promises in the first place?
Krusty’s father refuses to forgive his son because he went into comedy rather than follow in his footsteps. Bart and Lisa try to reconcile them.
Krusty’s dad believed that respectable people should not be entertainers and felt ashamed that his son wanted to be one. His stubbornness got in the way of the relationship he could have had with Krusty.
What’s more important to your young people…being right or being right with people. The Rabbi realises what he has missed out on and forgives his son. What could your young people be missing out on by choosing not to forgive?
October 19, 2009
When Homer accidentally saved two nuclear plants, he becomes a hero, and is admired by his daughter, Lisa.
Bart learns that his best friend Milhouse had a birthday party and didn’t invite him.
What do you when your best friend lets you down? Have any of your young people felt betrayed? How did they cope with the situation? That’s a lot of questions but once again ‘The Simpsons” unveil a great theme to get your groups thinking.
It turns out that Milhouse’s mum is to blame because she thinks Bart is a bad influence. Do we sometimes jump to conclusions about why someone has betrayed us? Maybe there’s more to the situation than we first realized.
October 15, 2009
“Bart the Murderer”
After having a very lousy day of school, Bart accidentally stumbles into `The Legitimate Businessman Social Club’, a mobster front. He becomes a bartender, but when he shows up late at work and blames Principal Skinner, Skinner disappears.
When Bart questions Fat Tony on whether they stole a truck load of cigarettes, Tony asks Bart if it’s wrong to steal a loaf to feed a starving family.
Depending on the maturity of your youth group this might not be a good theme to discuss with them but for an older group this could be very enlightening. Is stealing ever justified? Depending on your ethical view, you could answer yes or no. If you live by a deontological ethical code then you believe in simple right and wrong and so it wouldn’t be justified but if you believed in teleological ethics then you believe that things are done for the greater good then it would be okay.
This theme could be a good way of opening up a series on the ten commandments or as a simple exercise on your young people’s view of stealing. Either way it should create some lively debate
October 14, 2009
“When Flanders Failed”
Ned Flanders quits his regular job and announces at a barbecue that he is opening a mall store catering to lefties. Homer, however, wishes that Flanders would fail.
Homer makes a wish that Flander’s new store would fail and is happy when it seems to be coming true.
Do you ever wish bad things on other people? Are there people that you know that you want some bad luck to fall in their way? Homer doesn’t like Ned, that much is clear. But to actually wish failure on someone? When Jesus says that we should pray blessing on our enemies, the word he uses means ‘to wish well, or to grant favour on’. How often do your young people pray for that kind of fortune for someone? And who would they wish that on? Just their friends?
To see other people fail makes us feel better but wouldn’t it be so much better to pray blessing on someone and see that happen?