Secular Uber-Lent Hits the Airwaves Again Feb15

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Secular Uber-Lent Hits the Airwaves Again

A guilty addiction I’ve privately nurtured for many years is my weekly dose of the reality series, Survivor. I’m not entirely proud of the fact that I’ve never missed a single episode in over 20 seasons of this silly/serious show. I feel a little less guilty as I note that Gail can’t miss an episode of “Bachelor,” which in my mind is at least as silly. This year’s season very nearly coincides with Lent 2012, but I know I’d never consider giving up Survivor as an act of penance. It’s just too much fun!

The secret of its allure for me may be that it approaches real life in all-too-true ways. For one thing, it’s great to see real people who are trying to achieve their dream of winning money while also struggling with the basics of human interaction. Social skills are underrated in general, and Survivor shows how valuable they are in developing a team — or breaking them up. Each season seems to reach a climax where the central players are actors in a morality play. What makes them win or lose is either how honest and trustworthy they are — or how dishonest and convincing they can become.

Maybe Survivor is the secular Uber-Lent. Like Jesus in his temptation the Survivor contestants get rid of their possessions, are tempted in the wilderness, walk the Via Dolorosa to their doom, and then one emerges victorious from the ashes. Then, when it’s all over, the entire crew of castaways gathers in a TV studio — like in the Messianic Banquet at the end of time — and (almost always) bathe each other in admiration and forgiveness.

So if someone wonders why I’m glued to my TV on Wednesday nights (and why I once applied to be a contestant on the show) I hope the theological justifications are now clear. I just love watching Lent on TV each week!