A new Bible-themed TV show could soon be arriving on the small screen, though it’s unclear if it will leave faithful audiences cheering…or discontented. The show, titled, “Living Biblically,” is based on author A.J. Jacobs’ book, “The Year of Living Biblically.”
That book, which was published back in 2007, covered Jacobs’ quest (the author, who was well-received by some churches and Christian groups after the book’s publication, has called himself an “agnostic Jew”) to take the Bible as literally as possible, integrating laws and commandments from both the New and Old Testaments into his life.
An official description of the book explains in more detail:
Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.
Jacobs’s quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations—much to his wife’s chagrin.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, CBS has picked up the “Living Biblically” pilot and is planning to bill it as a comedy, with Patrick Walsh, producer of “Two Broke Girls,” and “The Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki — who is slated to executive produce the project — helping bring the show to fruition.
The outlet noted that Hollywood has been re-evaluating its pilots of late, taking into account the fact that comedies and dramas do well in America’s heartland — part of the country that hasn’t been as well-served by TV projects in recent years.
And while it’s certainly true that religious shows can do well with this cohort, as Hollywood Reporter noted, there’s also an important balance when it comes to presenting faith on the big and small screens: People love comedy, but if the show comes across as mocking or misrepresenting Christianity or certain parts of the Bible, it might not go over too well.
If you’re looking for evidence, just look back a few years to the 2012 release — and quick cancellation — of the controversial show “Good Christian Belles,” which was immediately critiqued as being anti-Christian by numerous individuals and groups.
It’s unclear whether “Living Biblically” will be created in a way that ushers in similar reactions, but finding that balance is certainly going to be an important element for producers to consider as they embark on crafting the pilot. Even Jacobs himself — who feels he approached faith in his book with a fair and open mind — once admitted that “mixing humor and the Bible is a risky proposition.”
It should also be noted that Jacobs was invited to pastors’ conferences and other Christian events after writing the book — something he discussed in a 2009 interview with Christianity Today, saying he was “flattered” by reaction to the book. And, interestingly, he said he’s seen people on both sides of the religious divide find solace in the text.
“I have gotten lots of e-mails saying that it strengthens people’s faith, and that’s great. It’s weird, because on the other side I’ve gotten some agnostics, secular people who say, ‘Your book showed me how some of the rules in the Old Testament are so crazy. Thanks for reconfirming that,'” he said. “It’s interesting that people take away different things from the book. I love breaking down the walls between the secular and the religious.”
(H/T: Hollywood Reporter)
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