The Mindy Project Sheds Light on a Christian Trend : When God is Telling You To Move On



It was a real let down the other night, to discover the latest episode of New Girl wasn’t available yet On Demand. (When you’re missing things like Netflix in your life, such moments are pathetically disappointing.) So, since I wasn’t quite ready to invest in something deep and heavy (Breaking Bad has just about sucked every ounce of faithful TV drama-following I could possibly invest ... until January, that is of course, when Downtown Abbey returns), alas, I decided to give my next 20 minutes to The Mindy Project. (Side note: I realize, when it comes to TV shows, I can be like that person who “doesn’t like desserts” but somehow still manages to consume more than is necessary.) 

The Mindy Project is, just what it claims to be, a project by Mindy Kaling. Mindy Kaling (the annoying Kelly everyone loved to hate from The Office) created a show light and funny enough to not feel like a complete waste of time. It’s like Pinkberry for Primetime, sweet and not necessarily over-induldgent, but still completely unnecessary. Either way, having not watched more than a few episodes of the first season, in it’s second season (whatever was the latest available On Demand at the time) this well-established doctor has a boyfriend named Casey, who she went to Haiti with, who then proposed to her, and comes back to the States to marry her, just to decide they should hold off until they could have a “real” wedding (whatever that means these days). Oh. Did I mention her boyfriend just happens to be a fun-loving, cute, hip pastor? Go figure. 

(**Spoiler alert** - for those Mindy late bloomers.) In this epidsode, Mindy’s Pastor/boyfriend decides he’s not called to be a pastor anymore. So from the pastorate he leaves to pursue his new calling - the hard life of a DJ. To cut to the chase, he lands a few gigs, feels less than supported by Mindy in this new calling and quickly decides it just isn’t “him.” Pastor Casey’s next true calling is... Events Planning. By the end of the episode Mindy can’t take much more and calls it quits with Casey, the Pastor/ DJ/ aspiring-Events Planner. 

When Casey tries to defend his deeply rooted reasoning for his ever-changing career mode, he claims “God’s telling me to change; I have to listen.” Mindy replies, “Sometimes I feel like when God’s telling you to change, there’s a little of you talking too.” And... the sappy heartbreaking love music swells, Casey packs up his bags and Mindy finds herself on the couch with a box of kleenex, eating Ben & Jerry’s, watching Jerry MacGuire. (Ok, not really, but that’s where most girls would wind up by the end of the night.)

Its rare that Christians receive any limelight on a sitcom, unless you’re referring to the GCB-take on Christians or that coach on Friday Night Lights (sorry, never gave it the time of day.) While most stereotypes are harsh (such as GCB), representing a percentage of Christianity (a real percentage), it’s often a one-sided and generic view of people who identify themselve as Christ-followers. Christians are still human, no doubt; full of fault and folly. Specifically, Christians are rarely viewed as handsome, tall men with dating potential, on any show.

So, why a Casey would be chosen for Mandy’s rather somber episode says a lot about the perception of Christians in our current culture. What Mindy says to Casey, I wish more Christians would say to each other. I wish more people would have said this to me. 

While it’s not something we like to acknowledge, it’s interesting how a Christian’s perception of “hearing God” is often linked to the things that hold more of our attention than God does. So maybe it’s not even us we’re listening to as much as these obsessions or fixations, such as the perfect job.

The majority of young adults are already struggling to find lucrative careers that fit like a glove, that don’t feel like work.  But, a majority (of young adults - not necessarily Christians) also realize work, and an income are essential and not every season in life affords us the luxury of doing what we feel we are made to do. What we feel “called” to do, that dream job that excites and thrills us, often requires getting our hands more dirty and stretching ourselves much further than many self-proclaimed believers of Christ have the tenacity to endure. Yet it’s interesting how many of those who wouldn’t consider themselves Christians or remotely religoius can somehow sort through their emotions and frustrations, and truly commit to work that wouldn’t fit in their fresh-out-of-college-ideal dreams. 

Could this perception of Christians be because many (of us) can’t make up our minds and are too easily swayed by emotions and discontent?  Or do we simply hold too much of our identity in a career? For the Christian Culture, could our misinterpretation of vocation make some of us more unstable and unreliable, because in actuality it’s not God that we’re listening to but ourselves? While, clearly as The Mindy Project protrays, Christians have the tendency to move and change careers often. Could it be because we “listen to God” or, as the closing scene of The Mindy Project played out, could it be a common flaw among us? When “hearing God” shows a lack of maturity in those of us who claim to hold to this Christian faith, I wonder what faith it is we really hold to.