God or the Girl turned me off before I even saw the first episode.  I did not want to watch some show about guys who were either choosing to become priests or to stay with their girl.  That sounds absurdly ridiculous and seemed it would be tantamount to my sitting in front of the TV watching “The Bachelor.” I was wrong.

I would have to admit, though, before I move further that I was drawn somewhat by the idea of the show, but the title was just horrendous.  It turns out that the title for the show was a bad choice because the show is much more than choosing God or the girl.  It actually amounts to having a bird’s eye view to an evolution of thought over theology, Catholic tradition, humanity, and, of course, the life behind priesthood and what that entails.  As the title may have suggested to many people like it did to me, this show is not as simple as it may have looked from the onset.

This was no competition.  There was no money-bagged winner.  There were no possible seminarians sitting down and critiquing each other.  No, God or the Girl was about human choices to either follow the daunting road of Catholicism and its deep faith and profound works, or the daunting road of being Catholic and human.  Doesn’t sound like a win/win situation, does it?  No, but then, when in Catholicism are things this easy and simple?

The four would-be seminarians are an interesting bunch of fellows.  Joe is the very confused and ultimately indecisive older twenty-something.  He had a love interest in Germany, and has a family that is both supportive and not so.  His biggest problem, other than his own lack of decision-making capability, is his mother, a cute traditionalist Catholic lady with no shortage of catholic statuary.  She very much wants Joe to be the family sacrificial lamb in becoming a priest.  Joe’s mother, as cute as she may be, tends to overpower Joe with her views by playing the guilt game.  I really like Joe and I think he would make a decent priest, but, man, make some kind of decision already!  To become a priest is to be committed and stalwart, not stuttering and cloudy.  Joe surely would be an asset to the dwindling ranks of the priesthood.

Mike, by the end of episode four (which has already aired), had already made his decision.  However, his issue was not necessarily his family, or even a girl (of which he did have, but she was very well-prepared for his priestly exeunt if it were to come to that).  Mike’s obstacle to a solid decision came in the form of his own mentor priest.  I’ll go on record and say that this priest was downright controlling and manipulative.  He even seemed (as Mike himself stated!) to be jealous of Mike’s time spent with the girl in his life.  It was made clear that Mike’s mentor firmly believed that what Mike had to offer in service and faith was phenomenal.  However, the end came quickly for Mike as he was pressed into making his decision early: does he take a teaching position or does he become a priest?  Mike broke the news to his mentor and, although his happiness was expressed, the priest continued his manipulation by saying that he was “…crushed” by the decision.  I think, in this case, Mike made the best decision for his life.

Steve is the most interesting candidate for the seminary.  Having already graduated from college, made tons of money, lived the high life, and had it all at such an early age, he’s coming back down to earth and realizing what he has amounts to nothing much at all.  Steve is the one that seems to be in the most turmoil in relation to his place in the world and what it means.  Although Steve seems to be a quick decision maker, he does have some trepidation concerning his road ahead.  As part of his decision-making process, Steve made his way to a Catholic mission in Guatemala.  It is here that he truly comes into his own.  He faces fears that he never realized he even had.  Most importantly, he views and lives with those that are truly poor and they welcome him with open arms knowing that just be virtue of being an American, Steve is rich compared to the Guatemalans.  I almost wept along with Steve as his time came to an end at the mission.  He was fundamentally changed.  It was a beautiful experience to witness.  His coming decision will be difficult, though.  Out of the four, I truly believe that Steve is the most suited for priesthood.

The last candidate is Dan.  I have issues with Dan.  No, allow me to elaborate.  I have some extreme problems with Dan.  First off, I have this catch phrase I like to use with many young evangelical men out there and it is this: Christ for chicks.  Don’t deny it.  Just like there was emo for chicks, feminist for chicks, metrosexual for chicks (or, uh, guys, too) there is Christ for chicks.  Dan is one of these.  He is a part of a “Catholic fraternity” in Columbus, Ohio.  His motives seem to be more about displaying his amped up Catholicism as opposed to putting his amped up Catholicism to good work.  Dan and his college Catholic crazies pray in front of Planned Parenthood offices and in front of strip clubs.  They play terrible music while making an attempt to witness to God’s glory.  This is all just a bunch of, if you will, horseshit.  The funny thing about Dan is that to prove his Catholicism, he doesn’t make a pilgrimage to a monastery for some deep, meditative, contemplative thought.  He doesn’t go to a foreign country to help the indigenous poor.  He doesn’t challenge his view of the world and all that it encompasses.  No, Dan follows the advice of his masochistic mentor priest and carries a homemade cross for more than twenty miles on his shoulders.  What an impact, Dan.  How Opus Dei of you.  So, indeed, Dan carried the cross for everyone to see all the way there and who did this impact?  No one.  To me, Dan just needs to admit to his fundamental and evangelical ways and just defect.  A Catholic more concerned with how he looks to those around him (i.e. the girls…) doesn’t belong in a faith built on charity, love, and peace.  Just my two-cents, though.

God or the Girl is truly a unique experience in television viewing.  It displays the complexity that Catholicism is and the nuances contained within.  Making the choice between the lay life or the life of a priest should never come easy, and this program surely hammers this point home.  With a colorful and interesting cast of true life characters, this show is definitely worth a viewing or two.  Catch the reruns of episodes 1-4 on A&E tomorrow during the day and view the final episode tomorrow night at 10pm EST. 

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