Homer the Heretic
Inarguably one of the most well written and influential shows to emerge in the late 20th century, the Simpsons has a unique place in pop culture. The show’s place is well earned because the Simpsons, regardless of its crudely animated and controversial beginnings, is one of the most profound shows ever made. Although many shows have lampooned the low hanging fruit of religion and the easier to make fun of aspects of a Christian God, only the Simpsons has walked the fine line of ensuring that commentary on religion feels impartial and never preachy. In the episode Homer the Heretic, one of the show’s most famous, the viewer follows Homer as he falls out of attendance at his local church. Predictably the results of this include the townsfolk up in arms about the safety of Homer’s very soul. Upon falling asleep in his bed, Homer experiences a vivid dream where he encounters God himself.
At first glance, God is intimidating and powerful, tearing the roof off of Homer’s home and accusing him of unfaithfulness. But as soon as Homer decides to question God’s integrity in accusing him, God’s size greatly diminishes and suddenly Homer finds himself holding casual discussion with God. God quickly becomes an affable, almost human character who sympathizes with Homer’s comparatively banal interests about football. Certain actions of God’s are revealed to be based in petty frustration with humans in Homer’s life. As Homer seemingly strikes a deal with God, Homer awakens reinvigorated in his passion for avoiding church. Also of note in the show’s portrayal of God is the fact that God’s actual face is never revealed in the episode, leaving the powerful figure a faceless force who is remarkably mighty but still human in nature. Finally, it has often been noted that God is always portrayed as having five fingers instead of four. One might think that this is a sly philosophical remark on the relationship between God and man but the showrunner at the time has admitted that this, one of the show’s most popular mysteries, was simply a production error.