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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Outsiders

One of the reasons I like to watch Glee is that on the first episode I saw, the show choir sang my second favorite modern song* (Proud Mary a la Tina Turner) in wheel chairs. They did Shriner-style parade driving tricks during the chorus, “Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river”.

My 22 years at Lincoln High inform me that most of the story lines rely on some pretty far-fetched premises. Principal Figgins is a nitwit, come-and-go football team members (including girls and Arnie (the boy in the wheelchair), district competition nearly every week, omnipotent/malevolent cheerleader sponsor, better than Broadway costumes, and the list goes on. 

The Glee writers don’t shy away from issues - teen pregnancy, bullying, teen alcohol abuse, gay rights to name a few. Does it matter if the music is the vehicle for the controversial topics, or the topics are the vehicles for the music?  It clearly showcases some highly talented musicians. Looking at them I believe they believe they feel called to exercise their gifts for our entertainment. I find it inspirational; God bless them.

I celebrate this outrageous, ridiculously popular show.  It consistently elevates and supports the outsider.  As a coach and teacher I was called to those kids and I didn’t have to go looking for them.  In a small way I saw these students as God’s precious creations and it grieved me to witness the injustices the school experience often allowed to happen.

The Bible has a fair amount to say about outsiders. In the Message (Matthew 9:13) Jesus says, I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."  Whether they mean to or not, the Glee people deliver us the gospel. Who doesn’t need that?

Questions: Do you encounter outsiders in your world? God forbid, do you create outsiders?  Are you called to welcome others? Who can you welcome today?
*#1 is the Beatles Here Comes the Sun. I guess I’m getting old if I call these titles modern!

by Tom Pappas


  1. AMEN Tom! Love everything you say about Glee. So fun to see these kids who portray the ones who are "on the fringe" in so many schools.
    Thank God for music and band and debate and chess clubs...all the things that pull these sometimes "sideline" kids in from the edges of school life, and give them a place to BELONG and use their many gifts and feel surrounded by others like themselves. ( I once heard, though, an interesting statistic that said the number of kids involved in music,debate, and theater outnumbers those in sports by a huge, huge, amount. Makes ya wonder who really is on the fringe. :) Have a great day Tom and thanks for writing this. MAL

  2. I've never watched Glee but people in my church choir love it. I'm watching too much political stuff and world news that puts the weight of the world on my back. I'll be checking Glee.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences as a teacher and coach.