Breaking Awful

For the past few years, people have suggested I watch a TV series that ended in 2013. As you probably know, this is now possible through the magic of streaming. Many of us—and probably you as well—have been known to get hooked on old shows that we never saw (or that we want to see again). Services like Netflix and Hulu make it all possible.

Because of these wonderful little inventions, binge-watching entire series has become a thing. I’ve been known to get caught up in such trivialities from time to time when I come across a show that captures my imagination. And now, it has occurred once again.

Terminal Cancer

The series I mentioned in my opening line is Breaking Bad. In case you haven’t seen it, it entails the story of a high school chemistry teacher who discovers he has terminal cancer and decides to “cook” meth to make money for his treatment and secure his family’s future. Well, one thing leads to another and he becomes a major criminal.

The thing about this five-year series is that each episode ends with a cliffhanger of a scene. It’s tough to turn off the set until you’ve seen how it turns out. Then, of course, the next episode ends up being another cliffhanger. It’s almost like getting addicted to drugs. It’s tough to quit.

Walter, the main character, starts off as a rather likable guy—sort of meek and mild—a brainy family man who gets clobbered by a tough break. You have to feel sorry for him—even when he begins to cook methamphetamines. You know that he’s helping to ruin lives by supplying all the meth-heads in the neighborhood. Still, it seems like a good cause.

Deeper and Deeper

Of course, he keeps getting in deeper and deeper. As time goes on, more and more lives are ruined, his family is put in danger, and people die—lots of people. Spoiler Alert! On more than one occasion, he personally commits murder. He ends up being a monster of sorts.

The thing about watching this show is that I still root for him to get away with everything. As vile and immoral as he becomes, I still can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s one of those hero/anti-hero types. I’m conflicted and compromised.

This is not the only show like this, of course. I’ve seen several of them in the past few years. One thing they’re good for—aside from the entertainment—is the way they portray the evil that resides in each of us. 

These days, a lot of humanists keep telling us that people are basically good. If you’re a Christian and have paid attention to your own theology, you know this not to be true. Humanity is basically evil, and it doesn’t take much for us to get lost in our own sinfulness. We are a people in need of a Savior. Walter is one of us. I guess that’s why I still root for him. 

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

I’ll Hold Your Beer

I was watching the fifth game of the World Series along with a few million other folks when it happened. I was also watching live in 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down on national TV. I suppose there were hundreds of other famous, live incidents I was able to see as they occurred, but these two are possibly the ones I will remember the most.

I’m referring, of course, to the now-famous Jeff Adams. Mrs. Adams had stepped out to purchase some food, so her husband was holding her beer as well as his own. Then Yordan Alvarez of the Astros jacked a home run. As Adams spotted the baseball heading his direction, he put himself in position to, uh, catch it. 

A Heroic Move

In a heroic move, he held on to the two beers (one in each hand) and blocked the ball with his chest. The ball fell to his feet, and he was able to retrieve it. Obviously, it was a well-deserved souvenir. The home run traveled over the left field wall going a distance of 405 feet at a velocity of 106 miles per hour. I’ve played enough baseball in my lifetime to know that had to hurt. My immediate reaction was to tell my lovely Bride that it probably broke a rib.

Apparently, I was wrong. Adams was interviewed after the game and said it didn’t hurt because, “the Astros don’t hit that hard anyway.” Obviously a Nats fan… I have to admit, I would have either tossed the beer and gone for the ball, or I would have dived out of the way. I’m just happy for Jeff that the ball wasn’t head high when it reached him—although he may have caught it in his teeth if it had. I would have had to look away if that had transpired.

TV is an amazing invention. We got our first boob tube when I was two years old. My parents told me years later that I was glued to it. That was sixty-seven years ago, and I’ve watched my share over time. Sometimes I’m embarrassed about the decades I’ve no doubt wasted during that era. I’ve viewed some pretty important moments, but I’ve also had to wade through eons of unnecessary drivel to get there.

“I Was Watching!”

With media the way it is these days, I can watch Oswald and Adams whenever and as often as I want. Seeing it live isn’t all that important—or is it? It’s kind of cool to be able to say, “I was watching when that happened!” That’s small reward for losing so much of my life, but that’s the way we seem to live.

Luke tells the story about Mary and Joseph finding the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. He told them, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” It appears that Jesus preferred spiritual matters over TV. I’m not sure how much time he wasted in his short life, but I’m guessing it wasn’t much.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]