Of late, my daughter Casey (age 6) has been into our DVDs of Little House On the Prairie, which my wife purchased a while ago with great enthusiasm. Indeed, both the spouse and I grew up on Little Houseâ€“Pa always making ends meet, Ma looking saucy in those burlap bag dresses, Mary going blind but finding her inner-self; Laura meeting Manley, Carrie, well, uh, yeah.
Tonight, we were watching the episode where the Ingalls set up Mr. Edwards with Grace, hoping that the saucy Bonnie Bartlett can somehow see past illiteracy and poor hygiene and a beard the size of a large hawk’s nest. The two get along famouslyâ€”they fish, exchange love notes, engage in awkward conversations like:
“You enjoy fishing?”
Anyhow, they seem the perfect couple until Mr. Edwards asks Grace whether she’d like to fish on Sunday morning. “After church?” she asks.
“No,” he says. “In the morning.”
“But Sunday,” she says, “is the Lord’s Day.”
“Uh, not for me,” Mr. Edwards says. “I don’t believe in God.”
Cue dark musicâ€”dun! dun! dun! dun! dun! dun! dun! dun!
Turns out Mr. Edwards has had a rough run. His wife and son were killed, and their deaths resulted in him losing faith. Understandable, of course. The two people you love most of all are expunged in the prime of their life, and you decide there’s no higher power. Right or wrong, it’s certainly a viable take. If nothing else, any normal human being lets Mr. Edwards work this one out on his own.
Not in ol’ Walnut Grove. Grace immediately dumps Mr. Edwards, and Caroline Ingalls gives him a very, very, very stern talking toâ€””How can you give up on God? How can you?”
As I sat there, my kids glued to the TV, I couldn’t help but think, “I sure hope the tykes use Mr. Edwards as a role model.” Here’s a man whose visited the depths of hell, and he made a very difficult lifestyle decision to abandon faith. Again, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. But it’s gutsyâ€”especially in Walnut Grove, where God is king and Rev. Alden pulls down $3 per hour and gets his own cottage.
So what happens? Following the pause for a commercial break, we see Mr. Edwards enter church mid-service. He sits next to Grace and starts singing along. His new honey looks at him knowingly, as do Charles (Real name, for the record: Eugene Maurice Orowitz) and Caroline. Their faces say it all: We’ve got him!
** On a side note, I would love to be Charles Ingalls. Best TV dadâ€”hands down. My Top 5:
1. Charles Ingalls.
2. Howard Cunningham.
3. George Papadapolis.
4. Jason Seaver.
5. Phil Drummond.