Tyler and I have been catering a new shared addiction to the HBO TV series ROME. I bought him the first season for Christmas, and he made us put off beginning to watch it until last month--good thing! We have to make ourselves only watch one episode at a time, and only a few a week so that we don't wear ourselves out on it or find ourselves too addicted only to run out of shows before we could finish the weaning process.
I have been trying to figure out why I like the show so much. It houses everything a good drama is supposed to have, thick plot, adventure and action, sex, quests for power and love, even a bit of suspense. But sometimes the violence and female objectification is even a bit too much for me; yet, I can't wait for the kids to get to sleep so we can pop the next episode into the dvd player. (This is all aside from the fact that Rome follows suit with other notorious HBO programming in that the writers are masterful at wrecking your assumptions of the next episode in the last thirty seconds of the current one.) So I think I keep returning to it because it is really bringing to life a new, or ancient rather, way of life. Despite the fact that there are lots of western influences in the show (my brother commented that he couldn't watch beyond the first episode because something about ancient soldiers using the F-word didn't really strike him as authentic), there are also lots of culture practices that were similar in the time of Jesus that are portrayed well.
I'm understanding better the freedom that Jesus offered women by noticing them for more than their bodies and even encouraging them to speak. I am intrigued by the power plays between rulers/emperors and I wonder how Jesus squeezed into this, and I can't believe Rome's foreign policy was so inconsiderate-to put it mildly. Yet their devotion to their gods was astounding. The show doesn't spend much time on this, but they couldn't escape it either. Before every battle, every relocation, every important deed time is spent in supplication. I get more the significance of a monotheistic religion now. And mostly, the show does a great job showing us how narcissistic and wretched the culture was. They had a blatant disregard for human life or the worth of any individual unless you were noble. A lot of how it's portrayed is Hollywood-hyped up a bit, I'm sure. Nonetheless, Roman culture was brutal and cut-throat. All the more radical Christ's message of peace, restoration, and dignity. They crucified people like it was nothing; so even this too, makes me wonder how Scripture has embellished the story of Jesus' own experience on the cross to make it stand out a bit. All this to say, it's a pretty interesting show.