Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dr. House and the Mormon Doctor

Last night I was up late enough to watch "House". By now, the formula is pretty clear: someone has an illness, and either they're hiding something important - or the disease is throwing up a lot of red herrings.

To give them credit, the writers seem to get that the formula has to be tweaked every so often to make things seem fresh. For example, last night you had a patient who wanted all of her tests "off the record" so her job (and dreams) wouldn't be ruined. And, at the same time, House had to reduce a potential crowd of 40 would-be assistants to just 3. Let loose the cat fighting the nastiness, people!

What caught my eye though was the portrayal of one of the doctors as a Mormon - an ethnic minority. Compound that with the same doctor being black - a racial minority, and a minority within a minority (not that many black Mormons, though the number is growing).

Being a Mormon myself, I was kind of apprehensive. For some reason, Mormons usually don't get great billing time on TV. We're usually weirdos who won't touch a woman (even if their a paramedic - that was one show I recall), or we're cultists (like "Angels in America" I think it was, where Mormons were pretty much homophobic jerks).

But here, we had a Mormon who was more like me. There was a moment where House had to determine if Patient X had a failed liver without doing a biopsy. The solution: get her drunk. If she goes into toxic shock, then she has a liver problem. To test, they needed a control group of a hard drink (House), a moderate drinker (one of the other doctors), and the Mormon (who doesn't drink at all).

At first, Mormon guy wouldn't do it - wrong to drink alcohol. And then House asks a question: Would you help an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath. For religious people, the question is clearly a reference to when Jesus stated that the Sabbath was made for man, and not the other way around. Therefore, it was perfectly all right to do some work or good deeds even when they conflict with commandments.

Mormon guy then decided well, that a good point. If my drinking can save a woman's life, then it's no longer sinful. When later challenged by House about why he was abandoning his beliefs, Mormon guy gave the same answer I (or hopefully any other decent Mormon would have):

You have a convincing argument.

I hope they keep him around. Yeah, self serving becaue he's a Mormon, but because he's one of the few on a show who isn't portrayed as someone weird. He's got beliefs, but as he says, people in the Mormon faith are free to make their own decisions. Yeah, we've got our own jerkoffs who think that they should set the rules for all other, or who judge others because they drink or some stupid reason like that.

Maybe, if nothing else, it will be a reminder to other Mormons as well that we are suppose to have our own minds. The thing I always remind people when they say to "Follow the Holy Ghost" is to remind them of the advice Joseph Smith gave to Oliver Cowdery: First *reason it out in your mind*, *then* ask God if its correct. Too many Mormons seem to forget the first part and expect the answers to just come.

House had a good, reasonable argument, and for once, I don't feel embarrassed to see how my faith is portrayed on a TV show.


Anonymous said...

This is TWH from LJ;

It's an interesting conundrum, I have to admit. However, I think I'm missing something since I never saw the episode.

Did House rail on the Mormon doctor when he decided to drink?

It just seems a tad far fetched for my tastes, anyway... but then again, I don't watch much tv nowadays.

John Hummel said...

@TWH: Basically, first he got annoyed at Mormon doctor for not wanting to drink (after all, why does a God who doesn't exist care what you put on your body), then he berated Mormon doctor for violating his beliefs so "easily" - the idea being that religious people can not discern between a "lower law" and a "higher law", and that life is full of contractions, and we have to prioritize.