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"She of Little Faith"
The Simpsons episode
She of Little Faith.jpg
Lisa enters the Springfield Buddhist Temple.
Episode no. 275
Prod. code DABF02
Orig. airdate December 16, 2001
Show runner(s) Al Jean
Written by Bill Freiberger
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Chalkboard "I do not have a cereal named after me"
Couch gag The couch is a slot machine that shows Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa in the windows. Maggie, however, is replaced by lucky number “7” as a jackpot siren wails and a pile of gold coins spill out.
Guest star(s) Richard Gere as himself

"She of Little Faith" is the 6th episode from The Simpsons thirteenth season. It first aired on Fox on December 16, 2001.

Contents

Plot

While watching a 1950s science fiction movie, Bart and Lisa see a commercial for a model rocket kit and Bart orders it by using Homer's credit card number. Six to eight weeks later, Bart gets the rocket and asks Homer if he wants to help put the rocket together. Homer joins him and Milhouse in the back yard to help them. Soon the rocket is ready, but it blows up before it can lift off. Jealous that Ned Flanders built a superior rocket, Homer enlists the help of his nerdy college roommates, Gary, Doug, and Benjamin. Once they are done with a pretty high-tech rocket, he shoos them and Milhouse away, and prepares to launch it himself. Unable to get their hands on any space monkeys, they use the school hamster, Nibbles, to pilot the rocket. The rocket lifts off successfully, but it develops complications and starts drifting off-course. After Nibbles bails out (disobeying Homer's rather simple instructions), the rocket crashes into the church and blows it up, aided and abetted by Homer, who tries to destroy it with a shotgun.

The church council meets up to decide how to come up with money to fund the repairs to the church. With no help, they will have to do it themselves. At that moment, Mr. Burns, looking more sinister and evil than the Devil[citation needed], shows up and offers to fix the damage provided that they allow him to run the church like a business. At first, the group is a bit reluctant, but they have no choice, so they agree. He introduces them to Lindsay Naegle, who will be overseeing the church renovations. Together, Lindsay and Burns make the church into a commercial monstrosity, complete with advertising signs, a Lard Lad statue, and a Jumbotron. Lisa, on seeing this, is appalled.

Three weeks later, the newly renovated church is thrown open to the public. The whole place seems like a shopping mall and it even has new pews, resembling first-class airline chairs. When Lisa objects, she is labelled a "Pouting Thomas" on the "God Cam". Reverend Lovejoy starts the service rather solemnly, as usual, but suddenly starts endorsing big-screen TVs and pizzas. At this point, Lisa has had all she can take and denounces how horrible the church has become, likening it to the Whore of Babylon, much to everyone's astonishment. Some people try to talk favorably about the new renovations. Lisa agrees with them, but tells them that they cost the church its soul, and leaves, saying she has lost her faith in the church, much to Marge's horror (Homer is unsure of how to act).

That night, Marge tries to "talk sense" into Lisa by pretending to be God as she prays, but Lisa, offended that her mother would eavesdrop on her prayers, is not to be swayed. Bart comes up with some religions she should consider taking up, but she shoots them all down. She goes for a walk, passing many sacrilegious signs; like Whiskey A God-God, Church of The Latter Day Druids, and Bed Bath & Bahá'í; until she happens upon Springfield's Buddhist temple. She enters and sees Lenny, Carl, and Hollywood actor Richard Gere inside. After hearing and reading about the virtues of Buddhism, she declares to everyone that she is a Buddhist.

Stunned at the conversion, Marge tries unsuccessfully to bribe her back to Christianity. Lisa plants her own bodhi tree in the back yard, much to her mother's disapproval. At the church council, they decide to bribe Lisa back during the Christmas season using presents, using what looks like a pony named Clip Clop wrapped in paper (in actuality, it is Ralph and Milhouse wrapped inside). However, she gets wise to the fact that Reverend Lovejoy is outside watching and runs away. She runs to the Buddhist temple, where she complains about how her family tried to trick her into celebrating Christmas. Richard Gere informs her that while Buddhism is about one finding inner peace, it is also about respecting the diversity of other religions, as well as love and compassion. In other words, she can celebrate any holiday. Gere leaves to spend Christmas with his daughter, and Lenny and Carl leave to prevent Moe from attempting to kill himself (as he does every Christmas).

Lisa goes back home and tells everyone that she will be celebrating Christmas with them and continue paying lip service to Christianity while practicing Buddhism. When she asks about the pony, Marge nervously tries to change the subject by saying "Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year." At the end, we hear Marge still saying Happy New Year and Lisa calling for Clip Clop.

Production notes

In broadcast order, this is the first episode featuring Al Jean (without Mike Reiss) as the new showrunner. In production order, this is the second episode with Al Jean as the new showrunner.

Cultural references

  • The title is a reference to Jesus' words in the book of Matthew, chapter 14, verse 31: "ye of little faith", said to Peter while walking on water (at that moment, Jesus had allowed Peter to walk up to him on water, but Peter, hesitant, started to drown).
  • The cheesy science fiction movie at the beginning of the show, referred as "The Planet from Outer Space", is a parody of Plan 9 from Outer Space.
  • Homer's "break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the face of God!" speech is a parody of Ronald Reagan's speech following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, which quotes from the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
  • The opening plot with the rockets is a spoof of the bio-pic October Sky. Some sections also reference Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff.
  • This episode satirizes the phenomenon of megachurches.
  • When Reverend Lovejoy is done with his sermon, he says that the Noid has some things he'd like to say, and the Noid in question walks up to the podium.
  • What Lisa was chanting while ignoring her mother was Om mani padme hum, a mantra popularly associated with Tibetan Buddhism.
  • On the God-Cam, Lisa is captioned with the words "Pouting Thomas", a play on the phrase Doubting Thomas.
  • Lisa being broadcast with the "Pouting Thomas" message under her on the Jumbotron is a reference to the 1970s episodes of Saturday Night Live where the camera would focus on an audience member and a risque or bizarre message would be superimposed on the shot of the person before the show cut to a commercial break.
  • The Buddhist temple's main figure is not actually the historical Buddha himself, but rather a Western misinterpretation of him; the familiar obese laughing figure is actually the Chinese interpretation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, Budai, who has come to be a representative of the Buddha in some episodes.
  • When trying to decide how to get funds to rebuild the church, Marge suggests that they write to David Bowie, but Reverend Lovejoy says that "he's done enough for the church".
  • Bart's chalkboard gag was probably a subtle reference to his limited-edition breakfast cereal released in 2001, Bart Simpson Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cereal by Kellogg's.
  • When Ned hears Lisa announce that she is a Buddhist, he exclaims, "My Satan sense is tingling!". This is a spoof of Spider-Man's catchphrase, "My Spider-sense is tingling!".

References

External links

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