Fun fact: you can watch old “Bewitched” episodes on international American Airlines flights. It’s on the “classics” selection along with Arrested Development and 30 Rock – even though those shows were created thirty years after Samantha and Darrin threw their last dinner party.
I watched an episode from Season 1 (1964) featuring a young Jack Warden. He played Mr. Barker – a baby food executive for whom Samantha threw a dinner party in hopes he would sign an advertising contract with Darrin’s firm. It was clearly a 1960s soiree where men wore suits and women wore cute cocktail dresses. And after the dinner party, Mr. Barker made a pass at Samantha. He tried more than once and – today – we would call it an assault.
A couple of things: Darrin didn’t believe his wife when she first told him about it. And Samantha didn’t seem all that surprised/shocked that it happened in the first place. It was the culture for many men to assume they could grab any woman in their presence. (His lovely wife was there too and she made a comment about her husband that implied that his behavior was often dallying.) The difference in this scenario was that Samantha turned this character into an actual dog. Hilarity ensued.
I’ve shared before that one of the first clergywomen ordained in my denomination told me that from the time she was ordained in her late 20s until she was in her mid-40s, there was not a meeting or gathering of any kind when at least one clergyman didn’t comment about her body or touch her inappropriately. She told me that at one meeting in which she was the sole female in a room of male pastors, one of them said, “You have to understand, ___ , that your ticket into this room is that one of us gets to have you.”
Again, these men were all pastors.
I would call this farfetched except that it happened to me as a young clergywoman too, although not to that extent. I’m sure that the men who made suggestive remarks to me at clergy retreats or after meetings would not do it today. I know some of those guys – still – and they know that things have changed.
There are things we don’t do anymore.
We – White People – do not use the N-word in church meetings or in church parking lots or anywhere. We – straight people – do not make “gay jokes.” We – men – do not comment on the pastor’s legs or the church administrators breasts. We don’t humiliate children during Sunday School.
Only, I know that these things still happen in Church World.
It was shocking to see a black and white TV sitcom make a joke about a man cornering a woman in a gazebo. Yes, she turned him into a little dog. That’s what made it a comedy.
We can call it political correctness or we can call it being the people God has called us to be, but either way, the people of God must not do the things we used to do. It has wounded the Church in the past and I could make a case that it’s one of the reasons so many people do not find Church safe today.
This week of all weeks – let’s be the Church God calls us to be.