Most Christians know the story all too well: you’re sitting on your couch, happily munching on popcorn and watching your favorite TV show when a “Christian” character is introduced. Suddenly, round characterizations and plausible motives are thrown out the window as we meet “Hypocritical-Christian-Stereotype,” “Stupid-Fanatic-Fundamentalist-Stereotype,” “Evil-Preacher-Stereotype,” and other mostly unrealistic versions of Christians. It’s insulting, discouraging, and it makes ordinary Christians want to shrink under the table with embarrassment because of the handful of times these stereotypes are actually true.
If you’ve experienced this phenomenon one too many times, then I have just the show for you. Call the Midwife offers a refreshing alternative to such straw-man Christians in the nuns of Nonnatus House. These sisters are neither hypocritical sinners nor unblemished saints. They are simply ordinary women trying to live out their faith in a variety of difficult scenarios. They pray every morning and evening, they deliver babies and visit the sick at all hours, they struggle through temptation and doubt, they put up with each others’ quirks, and above all, these ladies show love and respect for one another and everyone with whom they come in contact. That makes them some of the best representatives of Christianity I’ve seen on TV.
The nuns of Call the Midwife have ample opportunity to shun sinners in their work with unwed mothers, adulterers, women seeking abortions, and even an implied case of incest. But these women (and the lay-women midwives who work alongside them) show compassion instead of judgment, offering their patients physical and spiritual nourishment.
What most impresses me about Call the Midwife is the way the nuns live with one another in loving community. There’s no pretense of ease or perfection in their microcosm of the church; the differences between the sisters often provoke annoyance and frustration. But love and kindness always gets the final say.
Because of their loving approach to each other and the larger world, the sisters of Nonnatus house are not only TV’s best representatives of “real” Christianity, they’re also model Christians that any believer would be wise to emulate.
Watch the latest episode of Call the Midwife here.