That Mormon guy on House

(OK, so yesterday I said I was taken a break from blogging about Mormon stuff, but this just came up and I can’t resist)

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.

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2 thoughts on “That Mormon guy on House

  1. I would definitely break the Word of Wisdom if it meant saving another life—whether it be my husband’s life, my sister’s life, or the life of a total stranger. I would do it in a heartbeat. It is much better to break the Word of Wisdom than to allow a person to be killed needlessly. When I was at BYU, it troubled me that so many students worried about little nit-picky parts of Mormon culture rather than focus on the true pillars of Christianity (charity, service, love). A lot of people got hung up over the whole caffeine thing, the whole no TV on the Sabbath thing, or the whole no cap-sleeve shirt thing. Sometimes I just wanted to shake these people. What about fellowshipping the guy in your ward who has no friends? Or volunteering at a local homeless shelter? On another note, Justin and I find it humorous (and sometimes a little annoying) how Mormons are portrayed on TV. We watched the first season of Big Love and while they got most Mormon things right, there definitely were things they got wrong too. The show focuses more on aspects of Mormon culture than Mormon doctrine. (The non-FLDS characters are always the picture-perfect wholesome American families.)

  2. If there were some circumstances where drinking alcohol or smoking would save someone’s life, you bet I’d partake!If this ever happens, hopefully the substance in question would be fine wine, one of those crazy Starbucks coffee creations, or one of those other non-kosher items that I’ve always wanted to taste.If I drank wine to save someone’s life and secretly enjoyed it, would it be a sin?

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