This Week In Jesus is a weekly (or bi-weekly or not-so-weekly) look at where Jesus popped up in pop media over the past seven or so days.

This Week In JesusThis was a great week for Jesus fans, and we owe most of the credit to one fabulous man and one blubber-inducing woman. Matt Lauer and Oprah hit us with a one-two punch, both giving the twist-of-faith story of Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak some serious play. Lauer’s 2-hour Dateline episode aired Friday, followed by Wednesday’s Oprah show. You probably don’t recognize the two girls’ names, but you might remember their story—an amazing one that started with a particularly heinous accident involving nine Taylor University students and faculty. One family rejoiced that their daughter was not declared one of the five dead, and one family buried theirs. The Van Ryns cared for the young woman they were told was their daughter for five weeks before realizing that it was in fact Whitney Cerak. What happened next is truly inspiring. Diametrically opposed to the status quo representation of Christianity on TV these days, the Van Ryn and Cerak families were gracious, peaceful people who talked of forgiveness in a way that only those who have lived it can.

Considerably less inspiring was the news this week that long-time Jesus freak Kathy Lee Gifford is returning to TV. She’ll be hosting the fourth hour of NBC’s Today which, if it adds any more hours, will have to be known as Allday. Apparently KLG’s craptastic forays into “music” have not inflicted enough aural agony on the American public, so she’s going back to her shtick roots. Lucky us.

Jesus had to be happy with His facetime on American Idol this week. The theme was “Songs of Dolly Parton” and since the Boobied One’s sizeable ! * ahem * ! catalogue is rife with religious overtones, we were treated to plenty of pro-God lyrics. These are from every-girl-in-your-youth group’s favorite contestant and part-time worship leader (seriously) Jason Castro’s send up of “Travelin’ On” :

God made me for a reason and nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain
Oh sweet Jesus if you’re listening, keep me ever close to you

As I’m stumblin’, tumblin’, wonderin’, as I’m travelin’ through


Everybody’s forgotten about Obama’s crazy pastor, the BBC reported that religious believers are happier overall than atheists or agnostics, and Jesus hit Dateline, American Idol, and Oprah. If I didn’t know better, I’d say He’s having the best week ever.

Marc Acton is the editor of The Sub.Standard, a pop culture news and commentary blog.

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