These are some Simpsons clips that you can show, along with relevant points that you can bring out. We often use Simpsons clips and if you’ve got the will, you’ll find a point from most Simpsons episodes! The clips are sorted by the name of the video in white (i.e. ‘Bart sells his soul’) and then themes that can be brought out from the clip in yellow (i.e. ‘music’)
MARGE TAKES ON THE ITCHY and SCRATCHY SHOW – TV
This is a very interesting one because when Marge successfully challenges the Corporation, the Corporation is forced to make a change. When Itchy and Scratchy becomes non-violent it turns to the complete opposite and is really wussy and pathetic. This means the kids don’t want to watch it. Instead young people go outside and play, create new games, do better at school and family life improves. Interestingly when a nude statue is displayed in Springfield the crowd decides it’s offensive, the Springfield mob rule yet again rearing its head.
OK, so it’s a parody but there is more than a hint of truth in the fact that if we didn’t have TV or turned it off more, we’d begin to see a lot of positive things happen. Someone has estimated that by 70 we’ll each have spent between 7-10 years watching TV. That’s like one tenth and that’s a kind of tithe. If you had 10 years added onto your life, what would you do with it? Watch TV or do something worthwhile..
‘BART SELLS HIS SOUL’
At the beginning of the episode, Bart gives out fake hymns and the church sings a rock and roll song. The pastor doesn’t like it and punishes Bart.
Question – what kind of music is it OK to use and listen to as a Christian? Remember that most of the Wesley hymns considered ‘traditional and reverent’ were in fact written to pop songs of his day!
2. THE SOUL
Obviously the second point is Bart selling his soul to Millhouse on a bit of paper. The first clip is near the beginning – just after the organ bit mentioned above. This is where Bart sells his soul. You can also show the clip near the end of the episode where Bart is praying on his bed for God to give back his soul and Lisa has bought back the bit of paper Bart sold representing his soul.
Question – What is our soul? Non-believers may be able to explain a lot about how humans exist and develop but they can’t explain where the soul comes from
‘IN MARGE WE TRUST’
1. WHAT IS CHURCH?
The beginning of the episode sees Reverend Lovejoy preaching on ‘constancy’ and everyone falls asleep because it’s so boring. The Simpsons get home – you can end the clip when they Marj goes to see Reverend Lovejoy and volunteers. End at the part where he says, ‘I wasn’t prepared for that’
Question – Marj says ‘church shouldn’t be boring’ and its clear that most people are only there out of duty. What is church? Why do we go? Is it for us or for others? How can we liven up church? How can we make church more like God wants it to be?
2. CHURCH IN ACTION?
Second clip comes 2 minutes later and starts with Marj talking to Rev Lovejoy. He reminisces on when he first started at First Springfield Church and was idealistic. The clip ends when Moe phones Marj and asks his second question about his cat!
Question – what is the church doing to help people? Do people turn to the church to find answers to their questions and help for their problems? Why not? Jesus knew when to make himself available to people and when he couldn’t do anything for people. What about us?
‘HOMER THE HERETIC’
1. WHO IS GOD?
The first clip is located 7 minutes and 34 seconds from the ‘created by Matt Groening’ frame (end of the opening credits). It’s that classic moment where Homer has a dream that he meets with God and God agrees for Homer to set up his own religion. (We actually overdubbed the sound to make reference to our church instead..) You can finish the clip at around 9 mins 13 secs
Question – do all religions lead to God? How can they? How is Christianity different to other religions? (God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, are alive – unlike any other religion; Christianity is based on God’s love and mercy – unlike any other religion; Biblical prophecies made by God through the prophets and Jesus have all come true – unlike any other religion etc; Christians work with any people, of all races, classes and religions – unlike any other religion etc.)
The second clip is from 10 mins 28 secs to 11 mins 40 secs and is where Ned Flanders and family try to ‘win Homer back to the flock’. The clip ends with Homer’s car landing on a raft going to garbage island
Questions – you could use this as a part of a talk on evangelism. Someone once said a bit simply to me ‘all we should be doing is walking around the streets telling people about Jesus’ What do you think? Is there a lot of point in ‘doing evangelism’ when the church is so unprepared and inadequate?
3. SUNDAYS, OTHER RELIGIONS
The final clip starts at 14 mins 24 secs (Reverend Lovejoy saying, ‘keep the Sabbath day holy’). The clip continues through Homer slagging off Apu’s ‘god’ in the Kwik-e-mart and ends with a rainbow over Ned Flander’s house (18 mins 9 secs)
Questions – lots of issues here: What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy? Is there a danger in becoming a ‘Sunday Christian’? What about other religions like Apu’s ‘god’? Obviously they are wrong as there is only one true God. How do we express this to people? Does God really look after Christians in the way that he seems to for Ned Flanders?
‘SWEET SEYMOUR’S BAADASSSSS SONG’
This is the 100th Simpsons episode and it’s the one where Ned Flanders becomes principal of the school with Principal Skinner having been kicked out. The clip starts 19 minutes 12 seconds after the ‘created by Matt Groening’ frame (end of the opening credits). The first frame is of the school. The clip ends after 20 mins 8 seconds with Ned being kicked out of the school.
Question – In the US public schools, there are no prayers allowed and God isn’t brought into the education system hardly at all. Christians aren’t allowed in the schools in the way there are in the UK. We need to pray for this open door to continue in the UK, to ask God for it in the US and Canada too. How can we maximise opportunities in schools? What do we think about Muslim schools being set up in the UK?
‘BART GETS AN F’
1. ANSWERED PRAYER
The clip starts 13 minutes 42 seconds after the ‘created by Matt Groening’ frame (end of the opening credits) with Bart revising looking over a book. You can end exactly 1 minute later when Bart wakes up and see the snow – or finish after exactly 16 minutes (Lisa confronting Bart).
Question – does prayer work like this? Can you remember amazing or small prayers you’ve had answered? What does the Bible say about prayer?
1. CHARISMATICS, HEALING, EVANGELISTS..!
The first clip is of a faith healer who hits town – about one third of the way in. The clip ends when the faith healer’s show ends – it’s 2 to 3 minutes long. Then 3 minutes and 25 seconds later Bart does his own show. This bit ends 2 minutes on with Millhouse getting run over (or thanking Bart just before this happens if you need to be a bit sensitive)
Question – does healing work like this? Do some evangelists do more harm than good? In the Bible Paul says that he doesn’t mind that people are preaching the Gospel for the wrong reasons as long as it’s being preached. What do you make of this? Is there a danger of church being too showy or too stuffy?
HOMER STEALS CABLE – all kinds of stuff in this one!
1. THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, THE BIBLE AND CONVICTION OF SIN
The episode starts with a kind of take-off of the 10 Commandments. Moses is coming down the hill with the tablets in his hand. meanwhile below people are selling and doing all kinds of stuff with Homer, Karl and Lenny at the centre of it. As Moses comes down, Homer says ‘watch out everyone, here comes Moses’ (or words to that effect). Moses then starts telling the people the 10 Commandments talking about not making idols, not committing adultery and not stealing. Homer, Karl and Lenny all say ‘ah rats!’ and know they have to change.
Interesting how this points towards a kind of conviction of sin. What kind of effect do the 10Cs have on us today? What effect does the Word of God have on us? Do we keep on doing what we want or do we change, convicted by the power of God?
2. HOW DO YOU GET SAVED? WHAT ARE GOD’S CONDITIONS?
In Sunday school at the start of the episode, the question is raised to the teacher Mrs C, ‘How do we avoid going to hell?’ The teacher whose name I can’t spell replies, ‘by obeying the 10 Commandments.’ Is this true? Are we saved by obeying the 10 Cs or even The Bible? Have you thought about what the conditions are for getting into the Kingdom of God?
3. THE PULL OF TV, DODGY MOVIES, BREAKING YOUR WORD, INTEGRITY
When offered a deal to hook up to cable cheaply but illegally, Homer decides that it’s a great idea. Interestingly, after a while of viewing it he’s flicking through saying ‘seen it… seen it.. seen it…’ Interesting. Does cable give you more choice or simply more repeats?
Anyways, Homer catches Bart watching a dodgy adult movie and tells Bart that these films are for ‘mummies and daddies who love each other very much.’ Kind of interesting he accepts the dodgy film but only within the confines of marriage! I don’t think so.. Later, he catches Bart watching another dodgy movie. Homer is angry as the first time round he made Bart promise he wouldn’t watch one again. Bart promised that. The pull of the TV and the dodgy film was obviously too strong, making Bart disobey. Finally, Homer sends Bart to his room.. Bart mutters, ‘I wish I was an adult so I could break the rules’.
Questions – how do we protect ourselves from TV? Do we have integrity in our families, married life, personal life? How can we?
4. TAKING A STAND, MORALITY
Because Homer has cable illegally, Lisa becomes increasingly disturbed and at one stage sees her family sitting watch of the cable but sees the flames of hell engulf them because of their dishonesty. Lisa takes a stand and tells her family she is making a moral stand and not watching cable, even when there is a programme on horses on. By the end of the episode, all the family have joined Lisa outside while the rest of the community are in the Simpson house illegally watching the big boxing match.
Question – do we have morals? What use is faith without action? Do we take a stand? Are we prepared to? What is worth taking a stand over?
1. GOD DOESN’T ALWAYS ANSWER PRAYER AS WE’D LIKE IT
Ned Flanders, the nerdy but evangelical type, finds that only his house has been blown down by a freak hurricane that hits Springfield. ‘Why me oh God!’ he cries out, ‘I’ve even been kosher just in case.’
Question – Ned tells God that he’s been good but are we saved through being good or through faith? Second, being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a cosy life – take a look at Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 11.16-33.
2. GOD LETS THINGS HAPPEN TO DEAL WITH SHAPE US
The same episode sees Ned get very angry and commit himself to the mental hospital where a Doctor comes and helps treat Ned for his bad temper which he had as a child.
Question – Sometimes God lets us go through things for our own benefit even though we can’t see the reason ourselves initially. Looking back, however, we often see why God allowed something to happen. In this case we could say that God allowed Ned’s house to be blown down to (a) show the love his neighbours have for him and (b) to sort out his anger. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4.1-15.
‘IN MARGE WE TRUST’ – SOLD OUT FOR GOD?
This is the part where Ned Flanders has been chased from the Leftorium by the school bullies (Nelson etc.) having been advised to stand up to them by Marge. We pick up the action where the Simpsons arrive to find Ned in the baboon park. Who suddenly comes to Ned’s rescue? Rev Lovejoy on a train – hauling Ned to safety and whacking the baboons!
Question – we need to be sold out for God, that means there’s nothing in us except God (well it’s an aim – the only one who achieved this was obviously Jesus!) Rev Lovejoy demonstrated his (usually dormant) faith by rescuing Ned and putting himself at risk. He went for it – are we going for it with God?
‘HOMER’S MIRACLE CURE FOR BALDNESS’ – WHO ARE YOUR FRIENDS?
The clip is located near the end of the episode where Mr Smithers finds out that Homer has used 1000 dollars of company funds to pay for his miracle hair restorer. He confronts Homer but Homer’s secretary, the terribly cool and efficient Karl, takes the rap and pays back the money. The clip ends as Karl walks out the door.
Question – what kind of people do we have around us helping and advising us? Someone once said, ‘Tell me who your mates are and I’ll tell you who you are.’ Get good, Godly people around us. These may be older, wiser people – or youth leaders(!) – or mad for God friends. The choice is yours..
‘LITTLE MISS SPRINGFIELD’ – YOUNG PEOPLE TAKING A STAND
Lisa finds that Homer has entered her for the Little Miss Springfield contest. An unfortunate hat related lightning disaster to the eventual winner propels Lisa from runner-up to winner. Unfortunately she has to go on a carnival float sponsored by Laramy cigarettes. Lisa begins to have doubts, especially when she sees Maggie puffing on a cigarette. She stops the carnival and then starts to campaign as only Lisa can. Ultimately, the town council get rid of Lisa because where the application form says, ‘Don’t write below this line’ Homer has written, ‘OK’.
Question – do you think you can make a difference? I like the story about the boy throwing starfish from a beach back into the sea. A man, seeing millions of these starfish on the beach walks past and says, ‘what are you doing? You can’t make a difference to all these starfish’. As the boy hurls another starfish back into the sea he replies, ‘maybe not, but I’ve made a difference to that starfish.’ 2 Tim 4.12 says ‘do not let people look down on you cos you are young’. Is is time to take some action?
‘SPRINGFIELD MONORAIL’ – IDOLATRY
The clip is located at the town meeting where the wideboy, ‘Lyle Landley’ appears and suggests that Springfield has its own monorail. The town join in with a song blowing the trumpet of the monorail and go for the project partly out of pride (they don’t want Shellbyville to get the monorail) and partly through the selling tactics of Lyle Landley. More worthy projects such as the restoration of roads are rejected as the baying mob votes.
Question – do we put idols in front of God? Just as Springfield voted for the doomed monorail, so we are doomed if we don’t make God the most important thing in our lives. God is a jealous God and wants us to worship only him. Where do your priorities lie today? Let’s get rid of the idols in our lives, our land and our churches
‘HOMER THE HERETIC’ – DO YOU LOVE GOD’S WORD?
Homer has decided to skip church and set up his own religion – at one stage he dons the costume of a monk, a cross between a monk and Doctor Dolittle. The clip is located where Marj invites Rev Lovejoy over to dinner. Homer claims God has appeared to him in a dream – ‘nice smell, perfect teeth, a class act all the way.’ Rev Lovejoy reminds Homer of Matthew 7.26 – the foolish man built his house on the sand. Homer randomly picks out Matthew 21.17 – ‘And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany and he lodged there’. ‘Yeah, think about it’ says the ever confused Homer.
Question – do you ever get excited about reading the Bible? We should do. God has given us his Word as one of the key ways he speaks to us. I recently looked for guidance and God me Acts 22 where it says ‘Go from this place quickly’. That was a word to me. What about you?
Despite his wooden faith, Rev Lovejoy knows the Bible. 3 questions are raised – do you know your Bible, can you know the Bible and not know God, how do you use the Bible?
‘LEFTORIUM’ – TAKING A STEP OF FAITH and FRIENDS
Ned has set up his Leftorium and jacked in his old job. Things get bad, however, after Homer curses the shop. (Note that curses do exist, they are very real, but the power of God is far greater). The clip is at the end where Homer tells Flanders to go to work and then phones round everyone to get them to go buy stuff from the Leftorium. ‘Come on Neddy,’ shouts Maude Flanders his wife as Ned duly arrives for work next day, ‘it’s a miracle!’ Homer has got people to buy and Ned is overjoyed. ‘Affordable track housing brought us together Homer, but you made us friends.’ Springfield then join in with a customary song!
Question – what have you done for God recently that has challenged you and made you step out in faith? Has God pushed you to do something for him? Was he faithful to you? Yes, of course he was. What is God calling you to do?