My Love-Hate Relationship with When Calls the Heart

When it comes to wholesome, clean TV viewing, which is becoming a shrinking island every day, When Calls the Heart, a Canadian-American drama series based on Janette Oke’s novel of the same name from her Canadian West series, is a rare find. No bad language. No steamy bedroom scenes. Beyond a few dipping necklines, the women on the show are modestly dressed, and characters occasionally spout Bible verses or refer to prayer and God’s blessings. Not to mention the wonderful acting, period apparel (that one could argue isn’t always quite accurate to the period), the picturesque town of Hope Valley, and the pure entertainment of good storytelling. There is much to enjoy here.

Best of all, our family can sit down for an episode and not have to worry about objectionable content being splashed on our screen or issuing from our speakers. A rare find, indeed.

I’m excited whenever I find another clean show I can add to my short list. But after recently viewing the heart-wrenching conclusion of season five (no spoilers), a nagging issue wouldn’t let me go. A character was dealing with the loss of a loved one. Friends gathered around and offered advice on how they got through similar circumstances. Not a single one mentioned reading the Bible or turning to God for help. I kept thinking of Bible verses that would have helped this character in this situation, but nope, not even Psalm 23 was mentioned.

And this is why I want to talk about my “hate” relationship with the show. Hate is perhaps too strong a term, but I think you’ll understand once I explain.

For those who seek a personal relationship with God and look to the Bible for direction in life, is merely clean entertainment with moralistic plots about endurance and friendship sufficient? Shouldn’t we expect something more?

What is lacking in the show is genuine faith in God. While the characters engage in the messy issues we call life, and on occasion, the camera shows them in a church setting, rarely, if ever, do they turn to God for Bible solutions.

Let’s be honest. When Calls the Heart is ultimately godless entertainment. I know that sounds harsh, but let me explain. The show sprinkles in a few religious-sounding platitudes here and there but ultimately leaves God out of the picture. But why would it do otherwise? It’s made by people who are seeking good ratings and income for themselves and their advertisers.  Of course, there’s nothing essentially wrong with that motive in a secular business sense. It’s the same drive that pushes the book industry or even which potato chips you prefer to buy from Walmart. Profitability runs our world. This is the reality.

But my concern is that believers struggle enough with leaving God out of the real issues in their lives. Shows like When Calls the Heart ultimately feed the temptation in all of us to be humanistic in our thinking—that all we need are perseverance and good friends to come alongside and help us out of trying times. Or that believing in ourselves will help us reach the pinnacle of success. All without turning to God, who ultimately is the only one who can truly solve our problems.

I don’t mean to pick on When Calls the Heart. Like I said, the show has a lot going for it (excluding the recent scandal involving Lori Loughlin), and we will continue watching it. I guess I’m picking on any entertainment that purports to exhibit Christian virtues but ultimately leaves Christ and His grace out of the picture. There’s part of me that longs to see believers in Christ dealing with life’s issues authentically. With all its polish, beautiful photography, and superb acting, the Hallmark Channel simply cannot deliver what only heaven can. I long for the day.

6 thoughts on “My Love-Hate Relationship with When Calls the Heart

  1. Don Laudervaugh

    I have somewhat the same feeling with the police show “Blue Bloods.” Even though it isn’t as wholesome as “Heart”, they always pray before the Sunday meal, no no real Christian solutions.

  2. Lauren Newsom

    I agree. After reading many Jeanette Oak books I was surprised at how God was mostly left out of the show. You are right that our culture likes to talk about “being good people” without mentioning the truths of sin and redemption.

  3. Adam Blumer Post author

    Hi, Lauren. That’s why I have a love and hate relationship with the show. On one hand, I understand the producers want to appeal to as broad a viewership as possible, and yet when the characters face true-life dilemmas and fail to use God’s solutions, this grates on me. I find myself talking to the screen sometimes. “No, don’t do that. Why don’t you just go to him and ask him if you offended him?” Ach! So while the show is clean and something my family enjoys watching, it ultimately falls short of providing true biblical solutions. So in that way, it gets close but falls short. I realize it will never be a “Christian TV series,” and I can’t really expect this.

  4. Adam Blumer Post author

    Hi, Don. Thanks for your reply. I watched the pilot episode of “Blue Bloods,” and both my wife and I remarked on how clean it was. Does the entire series stay that way? That would be a rare find, if so. We are so limited on clean entertainment choices these days, so when I find something worth watching, I find myself cheering. Ultimately, yes, a TV show in prime time isn’t going to give overt Bible truths, so I guess we have to limit our expectations.

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