For those who aren't "savvy", House is a Fox TV show about a really cranky, sarcastic, drug-addicted, but brilliant doctor. One of Dr. House's chief characteristics is that he is an (militant?) atheist and seeks at any opportunity to discredit any of his patients' or colleagues' notions about God, the afterlife, or the supernatural.
So it was very interesting when it was announced that one of his new assistants on the show would be Mormon. The show introducing this character aired on Tuesday. Interestingly enough, the Mormon guy is black, so there go the stereotypes. But it lead into the following initial joke:
House: So you a Mormon? I saw that Brigham Young ring on your hand. Or did your parents just clean the grounds?OUCH! Right out of the gate, a subtle dig at Mormon history with African-Americans. The doctor responds with "The Church has a very progressive stance on racial equality." That's a questionable assertion; maybe presently true but not historically so. Also, when I think of the Church, the first things that spring to mind are not "progressive" and "racial equality."
There is another joke about the "magic underwear" that does not go much of anywhere, but the crux of this Mormon guy's involvement in the episode is also my most important point of this post. At one point, the doctor decides to do a liver function test by making a patient drink tequila and see how fast she gets drunk. For such an experiment, he needs a control group (someone with no tolerance for alcohol), so he picks the Mormon. I won't get into the back-and-forth, but the essence of the matter is that if this test is going to be conclusive and helpful in identifying the patient's ailment, the Mormon will have to drink. When the Mormon initially refuses, Dr. House asks, "Would you, or would you not, pull an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath?" A well-beloved scripture for every Mormon who ever went to college.
My real question is: if you had to break the Word of Wisdom in order to save another person's life, would you? I am not particularly thinking about a gun-to-the-head kind of scenario, but if in some alternate universe, partaking of alcohol or tobacco once would save the life of another human being, could you bring yourself to do it? If it was a loved one (wife, husband, mother, father, etc.), would that change your answer? My wife and I both agreed that we would partake. In my case, I like to think that it would make no difference if the person were a relative or someone particularly dear to me. In my own mind, the Word of Wisdom is NOT an eternal law. In the hierarchy of commandments, its actually pretty far down the list.
My only real complaint about the episode is that the guy is not convincingly Mormon. He says at one point "LDS does not try to control every aspect of our lives." LDS what? "LDS" doesn't do anything. The Church maybe, but LDS as a subject in this kind of statement. It just does not sound right and makes the whole thing sound less believable.