Synopsis: There's something very wrong with Andy's nipples. Michael's next charity run should go to helping that cause.
Review: Thus begins the first of four hour-long episodes to kick off season four of The Office. While it was not a story that naturally fit the hour format like "Casino Night," neither did it seem to drag or be overstretched. It felt like two back-to-back episodes. As a fan of the show, I can't complain about a double dose of the characters I love.The Office has the amazing ability of making major changes while somehow maintaining the status quo. When Jim transferred at the beginning of season 3, they kept him on as a main character. Jim and Pam are dating now, but their on screen relationship is pretty much par for the course. Kevin, one of my favorite characters, was a delight as the relationship spy. Ryan's moved on to corporate, but it appears (supported by the fact he is still featured in the opening credits) that he will remain a main character like Jim did.
"Is there a God? If not, what are all the church's for? And who is Jesus' dad?" asks Michael. "Fun Run" was both a funny and thoughtful episode. I'll give it a 7.5 out of 10, the "point five" because I was so excited to see Pam and Jim together!
Spiritual Content: This episode was a treasure trove for a student of religion such as myself. Michael maintains a pseudo-religiosity throughout. When he asks Meredith to forgive him for running her over, he makes up a Bible verse. He has you rolling in laughter when he tells the camera he's not superstitious but just stitious and comes to the conclusion the office must be under a curse. He proposes making a sacrifice to a giant buffalo to end the curse. Rather than allowing religion to shape him, Michael allows his desires to shape his beliefs. Sadly, this is an accurate description of how many people treat religion.
Michael asks (inappropriately as Toby points out) for everyone to share their religion. Stanley is Catholic, Darryl and Pam are Presbyterian, Phyllis is Lutheran, Creed apparently has been both a leader and a follower of a cult, Kelly is a marginal Hindu, and the IT guy is Sikh. This too is a very accurate description of the American workplace. There are a great variety of religions and denominations represented. Yes, there are those who do not believe in God, but the vast majority belong, at least in word if not in practice, to a religious community.
The contrast I want to point out is between Kelly and the IT guy. Kelly has grown up Hindu, but she is unsure of her own identity. Postmodern America no doubt has contributed to that confusion. On the other hand, the IT guy not only finds his identity in but is also shaped by Sikhism while at the same time he has come to terms with his religion in relation to modernity. He tells the group he is Sikh but also enjoys hip-hop and NPR. Fifty years ago you probably wouldn't run into a Sikh at work, but in 2007 I know of at least one Sikh Gurdwara right here in my home state of Oklahoma. Having a Sikh in this scene was a nice touch.
Framing her doubt, Kelly muses that if there was a God, her and Ryan would be married by now. Believing in God is not as important as the kind of God you believe in (James 2:19). Even after Michael reverses his position that God is dead, Michael's God is not too different from the mix-and-match animal gods he was proposing a sacrifice to after declaring God dead. Michael's conception of God is whatever suits him best at that time.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)