downton abbey

Gospel Lessons From ‘Downton Abbey’

See-ming Lee, Flickr

Downton Abbey recently finished its third season. See-ming Lee, Flickr

I got home from a church event on Sunday evening, in time to watch the season three finale of “Downton Abbey” on PBS, but I stuck to my guns about catching up on previous episodes first.

But on Monday morning, The New York Times had two articles about the finale and I couldn’t stop myself from reading them.

So now I know that two key characters get killed off — because the actors playing them wanted to move on from the show. Does that mean watching the older season three episodes is pointless? Not at all. As any Christian can tell you, knowing how the story ends doesn’t take away its meaning or mystery. If anything, you become even more alert to character development.

Killing off characters can work wonders for a television series, but it rarely works for the actors who overestimated what they uniquely brought to the program.

Ask any executive, pastor or educator about moving on and then bombing in the next job: their success wasn’t about them in the first place. It was circumstance, luck or an “alignment of the planets,” if you will, that existed only for an instant.

Is God the Missing Character in 'Downton Abbey'?

RNS photo courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE.

Downton Abbey's servant's hall RNS photo courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE.

The third season of the megahit PBS series “Downton Abbey” wraps up on Sunday, capping another must-see run of ruin and redemption at Lord Grantham’s stately English manor. Yet some are still left puzzled over the absence of what should be a leading Upstairs player in this colorful cast: God.

Writing last month in the flagship evangelical magazine Christianity Today, Todd Dorman wondered why — despite the heart-rending melodrama and all the “divine trappings” that gild the 1920s scenery — “God is a peripheral presence at best.”

“There are numerous fascinating blog posts … that search for implicit Catholic and Christian themes in the show — good and evil, suffering for cause, various types and grades of love and devotion,” Dorman wrote. “At some point, though, especially with a vicar in the family’s employ, it seems odd for such connections to remain unnamed, unspoken, and, for all we can see, unperceived.”

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