Polemics & Exchanges

On Masculine Christianity

Regarding Aaron D. Wolfs article concerning Ned Flanders' appearance on the cover of Christianity Today (Cultural Revolutions, May): While I agree that Ned is not a flattering portrayal of evangelical Christianity, we must remember that, when dealing with The Simpsons, no one is portrayed in a manner any better than Ned. I doubt the show's creators are ridiculing evangelical Christians the way jocks would tease and beat up the school nerd, as Mr. Wolf suggests. If that's the case, then everyone is the school nerd, because all of the characters are mocked, not just the Christian. Ned's exaggerated and laughable mannerisms are no worse than those of any other character. Most of the characters (with the possible exceptions of Chief Wiggum and Mr. Burns) aren't merely targets for ridicule, but complex characters with strengths and weaknesses. This includes Ned. To quote The Simpsons' executive producer, Al Jean, "We don't mock Ned's faith. We actually think he's a guy with a lot of wonderful qualities."

While, as a Christian, I wouldn't exactly celebrate Ned Flanders, I wouldn't take offense at him either. In the end, in The Simpsons' world, Ned is just another cartoon character.

        —Brian Fife,

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