A Rumor of Television Angels Confirmed by Gregory R. Beabout

A Rumor of Television Angels Confirmed

Gregory R. Beabout on Television (Part II)

One morning while driving to work, I heard one of our local disc jockeys announce that after traffic and weather, he would interview Roma Downey, who plays Monica, the “angel” with the Irish lilt, on Touched by an Angel. The disc jockey confessed that he had never seen Touched by an Angel, and had never heard of the actress, but he knew that it had become a very popular show. A few minutes before the interview, he asked the meteorologist if he had ever seen Touched by an Angel. The weatherman said, “We watch it every week. In fact, it is the only show that our whole family sits down to watch together.” Apparently, his family is not alone. Last year, Touched by an Angel was watched regularly by more than 20 million households, and it runs strong this year.

The central characters and drama change from week to week, with the constant element being three angels who serve as divine caseworkers. Tess, played by Della Reese, is the angel in charge, while Monica is the young angel who is still earning her wings by helping human beings. John Dye plays Andrew, the angel of death. The recurring theme of each episode is that while family is the most important social institution there is, families are often tainted by sin. Since sin separates us from God and from each other, and since we can’t overcome sin on our own, we need God’s grace and redemption. (When I was explaining this television program to a theology student who had never seen it, he was surprised by my description. “You mean the characters actually get down on their knees and pray to God for forgiveness? During prime time? On one of the major networks?” They do.)

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