West Wing character's rant against God

While channel surfing this morning, I came across West Wing (which I have never watched) and saw the character that Martin Sheen plays (the president?) in a church having a controlled but nasty rant against God. He was speaking in both English and Latin. I don’t know what he said in Latin, but he did get to the point where he called God a name in English. It wasn’t a cuss word and I really didn’t recognize the word, meaning it’s not in my vocabulary. But the way he said it was nasty. He talked to God as if he were talking to the boss of a big company that he was mad at, like he was going to show him who’s boss. He kept walking up further, but they didn’t show an alter or cross. When he got up to the front of the church, he threw his cigarette on the floor and then ground it in with his shoe. In a way, it seemed like spitting.

First, has anyone else heard of this and what do you think of it? Second, when actors agree to do scenes like this does God understand it to be playacting or does the actor have this on his soul? Last question, if someone were to watch this on purpose and enjoy it, does that hurt their soul and relationship with God. For my part, I feel that I came upon it by accident and was both intrigued and repulsed by it. So I don’t think it was sinful on my part. It was disheartening. I always enjoyed watching Martin Sheen perform until I saw this.

It’s too bad that was your introduction to West Wing. It was a very fine
series. The behavior of Martin Sheen’s character in the episode you saw
was very out of character for the President in the series but it was a big
part of the plot for that particular episode. I understand how it would
have been shocking and disturbing to see that and not really know anything
about that character or the show. It did make an impact on me when I
saw it. It was not the norm for the show.

Oh, I remember that episode. It isn’t entirely in character for Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen’s character), but it has a lot to do with the upcoming funeral of his secretary, who died in a car crash, and there’s a bit of literary trickery in his rant related to the fact that he’s about to decide to run for re-election. Its one of the more powerful scenes in the show, because its mostly about Bartlet’s grief.

Out of context, yes, it sounds very bad, but in the context of the show, its very powerful.

God is omniscient. He knows everything. He knows that actors, well, act.

As far as I know, no actor’s soul was harmed in the making of that scene :slight_smile:

I was a big *West Wing *fan when it was broadcast. The scene in question may be viewed on YouTube. A translation of the Latin is available. And feckless sounds like a dirty word, but isn’t, and is a useful component for anyone’s vocabulary.

It is difficult to give an analysis of the scene in isolation from the story as a whole. Suffice it to say that the character of President Bartlett is losing the battle of the question *“Why do bad things happen to good people?” *Though he is a Catholic, the patience of Job he has not. On top of any other problems of his presidency, he has just attended the funeral for his personal secretary, Mrs Landingham, a truly upright woman who was killed by a drunk driver after buying a car for the first time in her life. His last word, *“You get Hoynes!” *indicates his intention to not seek a second term, as he is fed up with trying to be a righteous president.

Even though the setting is the National Cathedral (Episcopal), I always love that he speaks English until he crosses into the sanctuary, where he switches effortlessly into God’s own language. :stuck_out_tongue:

*The West Wing *-- On the whole I ive it 2 thumbs up. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


This was a very powerful episode, but one that I enjoyed very much. Tee nailed it on the head; this was a “down” moment for President Bartlett, in which he experienced anger at God for the death of a beloved secretary whom he had known for years. Yes, it’s a rant at God, but that does happen to people, especially after funerals following sudden and unexpected deaths; I thought this was a very good portrayal of how a knowledgeable Catholic might react in that situation (I don’t know that I would spout off into Latin in the middle of a rant, but Jed Bartlett – a Nobel Prize winner with a very good education behind him – might :slight_smile: ).

This was not a gratuitous episode; it very much fit into the ongoing storyline. I see nothing wrong with having such episodes in stories like this.

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