I know it’s late, but I want to comment on the season finale of Eli Stone.
One of the subplots went like this: Toby from The West Wing (only, here, his name wasn’t “Toby”) came to Eli and wanted his representation. He had cancer, and he wanted to kill himself, or discontinue chemo–something that ended his life. And he claimed that God told him to do this. As a result, he felt a lot of peace. Every now and then, you could see the Toby we’ve all come to know and love. In one scene, he did one of his customary “Toby” tirades–you know, in which he starts off speaking softly, then gets louder and madder as he approaches the end of his statement. But, overall, he came across as a serene person, much like Eddie Murphy on Holy Man.
His wife was a rabbi, and she wanted him to fight for his life. She based her conviction on her love for him, of course, but she also appealed to the teachings of Judaism, particularly the value it places on life. The case concerned whether or not Toby was fit to make his own decision. Was he sane, or was he crazy for claiming that God spoke to him?
Well, Eli gave a speech about the importance of faith and how the judge should not condemn Toby as insane. After all, wouldn’t that declare all faith to be insane? And, in the end, the judge agreed with Eli. Toby died at the end of the episode. And, in the other room, Eli Stone was fighting for his life, for he was having an operation that would remove his vision-causing tumor (I think–I wasn’t following the show as well as I should!).
I felt the same way about this episode as I felt about the sex ed one. The show was trying to inspire me, and I wanted to be inspired, but it wasn’t doing it for me because I disagreed with its message. I’m sorry, I simply could not get inspired by condom-based sex education. I want abstinence taught in school sex ed, and abstinence alone! And, similarly, I have a hard time associating the legitimacy of faith with devaluing one’s own life.
What I like about Touched by an Angel and 7th Heaven is that they have inspiring speeches that agree with my beliefs. Touched by an Angel talks about God’s love, and Andrew once gave a good defense of Intelligent Design. I didn’t care much for the anti-Joe McCarthy episode, but that was the exception rather than the rule. And, although Eric Camden is a liberal Protestant and a Democrat, he still promotes God, country, family, and (this one’s important) abstinence before marriage.
But the episode of Eli Stone about Toby’s (direct or indirect) suicide was, well, twisted. Linking faith in God with suicide? I have problems with that.
We’ve seen the motif of the supernatural entering the courtroom before. Miracle on 34th Street was probably its inspiration. Touched by an Angel once had an episode in which Monica rested her testimony on her status as an angel. In both cases, the court had to rule on the legitimacy of the supernatural.
I like the motif, but I don’t like what Eli Stone did with it. It reminded me of the value of Scripture and centuries of tradition in communicating the will of God. Toby’s rabbi wife appealed to that. Toby, by contrast, appealed to a personal revelation. Ordinarily, in my view, the latter should be subservient to the former. Christianity at least claimed to be grounded in what came before. I guess that’s the Edmund Burke conservative in me talking.