The Town of Odyssey
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Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey
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Author:  Christian A. [ Fri May 02, 2014 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

These are some things I came up with very late last night... so tell me if they make sense or not. xp

Two of my little siblings got Albums 56 and 57 for their respective birthdays, and I've been listening to the episodes the last couple of nights... and I realized that I sorta dropped the ball at just the wrong time.

Those albums were really good. With the exception of the Penny and J&P episodes, nearly every single one has made me seriously think about something, or has really entertained me. The writers worked really hard to give us entertaining, yet meaningful episodes these last couple of seasons. We saw episodes about prayer, true repentance, tithing, Scripture, and even one where a girl who grew up in a Christian home realizes that she needs to make the faith her own and trusts Jesus for the first time! And as if that weren't enough, a subsequent episode deals with her struggle to keep her newfound faith alive! I don't know if I could have asked for anything better, really.

I don't want to presume upon anything, but.... I think I will anyway. =P During the Green Ring Conspiracy episodes, I couldn't stop whining and complaining about the lack of solid biblical truth in the episodes; and I was especially disturbed by the less-than-adequate descriptions of sin and salvation that I was hearing. Several times, I believe, I made sure I said that I believed a person is truly saved when they repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation. And at that time, I don't think AIO had ever featured a description of conversion in those specific words.

But then fast-forward to The Bible Network. In the first sequence, "Who's the Real Sheep?" we are given a precise definition of how to be saved: "by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus." Exactly. What. I. Asked. For. Does anyone think that could be more than a coincidence? Like I said, I don't want to presume that the writers read my blog faithfully and take into account everything I say.... but whether or not that's the case, I have seen a very evident change in the content and focus in many of the episodes.

Just last night I was listening to Disc 2 of Album 56, which has "The Holy Hoopster" and "The Lost Riddle" on it. Both of those episodes explicitly and repeatedly have characters saying "Jesus" and/or "Christ," names that I had felt were conspicuously absent from Odyssey for a long period of time. And even though it wasn't the primary moral of the story, "The Lost Riddle" had a very strong message about the Providence of God. Even though Kenny did wrong to Dale and thereby got a headstart on his career that should have gone to Dale, God worked through it, and Dale says that he wouldn't have it any different even if he could. I was very touched by this episode. And it's even a Jones & Parker episode! I couldn't believe it. xD

All this is to say.... Well done, Odyssey. I complained for a long time, and you didn't have to deliver, but you did. Even though some things don't totally line up with the specifics of what I believe (see my review on The Bible Network for that...), I think what we've been given is much better than what we had been getting. And given the fact that AIO has to cater to a huge audience, made up of people from all kinds of denominational backgrounds, I think they've done an excellent job. I've seen the gospel several times over the last two seasons. In The Bible Network, in Your Servant Is Listening, and even in Life Expectancy. I could hardly be more pleased.

Well, hopefully this hasn't been too long. That's another thing that I needed to work on back when I was writing about Odyssey more regularly: shorter reviews. xP But just in case you thought even this was too long and want something shorter:

TL;DR: Odyssey is awesome. Thank you.

Author:  Pound Foolish [ Fri May 02, 2014 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Such enjoyable writing, Christian. Though your slamming of GRC is wholly unwarranted. Paul McCusker is Catholic. Why would he say that "in those specific words" that people are saved when they accept Christ, when Catholics don't even believe such things? We know that there are many ways to Heaven. Not to lead into a debate, this is not the place. But, surely you would not expect a believer to go against the truth of Catholicism.

Author:  Christian A. [ Sat May 03, 2014 6:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Thank you, sir.

I understand your point. And that's one reason I've been pleased to see some of the changes that I've been seeing. There was Catholic thought that infiltrated The Bible Network a bit, which you can see me address in my review.

So I understand that it's hard to write things to please both sides when you have an audience of Catholics and Protestants. But all I was saying was that I think they're doing a pretty admirable job at the moment. I'm more happy with Odyssey than I was a few years ago.

The rest of the previous contents of this topic were split and placed in the "A Friendly Discussion of Catholicism" in the Second Church of Odyssey. -- Christian A.

Author:  jelly [ Mon May 12, 2014 8:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Haven't listened to an episode for at least several years, but...

Odyssey was always at its strongest when it opted for subtlety and ambiguity as opposed to preaching. That's how good storytelling works. It whispers truths. It connects with you on a deeper, more meaningful level. I'm dismayed by the fact that you admit to "whining and complaining" when those storytellers weren't always choosing to make it easy for you.

Is this where Evangelical "artistry" (dare I call it that?) has ended up? Do we demand that the things we already believe be spelled out for as in explicit detail, rather than let ourselves be surprised or convicted by the subtlety and nuance of a good story?

Odyssey has a talented team of writers that know how to craft intelligent stories. Why on earth would you feel the need to "whine and complain" until they water down their stories to your narrow satisfaction? What an actual tragedy.

Author:  Mrs Jason Whittaker [ Tue May 13, 2014 7:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Jelly wrote:
Odyssey was always at its strongest when it opted for subtlety and ambiguity as opposed to preaching. That's how good storytelling works. It whispers truths. It connects with you on a deeper, more meaningful level.


^This.

Odyssey should be a discussion starter not a discussion ender.

Author:  Leonard Meltsner [ Wed May 14, 2014 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Mrs Jason Whittaker wrote:
Jelly wrote:
Odyssey was always at its strongest when it opted for subtlety and ambiguity as opposed to preaching. That's how good storytelling works. It whispers truths. It connects with you on a deeper, more meaningful level.


^This.

Odyssey should be a discussion starter not a discussion ender.


Ooh, I like that one. I'm using that.

Author:  Dallas R. [ Wed May 14, 2014 9:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

I think I mostly agree about the show being a discussion started, (I think some of the older episodes were way too preachy with Whit wisdom tacked on at the end) but one hesitation I have is for the kids listening who don't have anyone to discuss the episodes with. I'm sure this number isn't large, but even for the minority, having an episode or two that clearly spells out the gospel would not be a terrible idea.

Author:  The Old Judge [ Fri May 23, 2014 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Christian A. wrote:
So I understand that it's hard to write things to please both sides when you have an audience of Catholics and Protestants. But all I was saying was that I think they're doing a pretty admirable job at the moment. I'm more happy with Odyssey than I was a few years ago.


This statement made me think, Christian. Do we know what FOTF's religious background is? Though McCusker is a Catholic, and there are many Catholics that listen to Odyssey, the beliefs of the organization would have to be the set standards for the show, wouldn't they? Or am I just wrong?

(Or do they not embrace any specific Protestant sect in an attempt to please and bring unity to all of us?)

Author:  Leonard Meltsner [ Fri May 23, 2014 2:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

FOTF is non-denominational. This is why Odyssey Community Church is named as it is. We might presume it's not Presbyterian, since there are only a few churches in Odyssey, and having 2 Presbyterian ones would seem weird. The show seems to be pretty strongly Protestant, however, especially considering their positive views towards Martin Luther and the Reformation (see: Hymn Writers).

Author:  Shadowpaw [ Fri May 23, 2014 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts on the Current State of Odyssey

Leonard Meltsner wrote:
FOTF is non-denominational. This is why Odyssey Community Church is named as it is. We might presume it's not Presbyterian, since there are only a few churches in Odyssey, and having 2 Presbyterian ones would seem weird. The show seems to be pretty strongly Protestant, however, especially considering their positive views towards Martin Luther and the Reformation (see: Hymn Writers).

This very accurate. James Dobson himself is Evangelical, and I know from when I was an intern at Focus on the Family, that I was the only Catholic on the team at the time. Paul McCusker wasn't Catholic at the time, in fact I had no idea he was a Catholic now until reading it here, but I was the only one within the team back in 2002 that was Catholic. I attended church with Nathan Hoobler, and also visited John Fornof's church, but the very foundation of Focus on the Family is to be inclusive of all Christian denominations. Growing up, I didn't quite understand why Odyssey had "Pastors" and I had "Priests", and why they could get married. I would say, as far as Christianity goes, AIO is probably furthest from Catholic doctrine then it is to any other Christian beliefs.

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