It was sad to read about Bob Saget’s death this past week. Seeing his picture all over the news reminded me, as it would have reminded a generation of us from the 90’s of his iconic role in Full House.
Bob Saget played the role of Danny Tanner, the widower who raised his three daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and a friend. He is a protective dad and a stickler for cleanliness. Through all his struggles as a single parent we see him continue to be a loving, protective and compassionate father.
It is because he played this role to perfection that I was shocked when I stumbled upon some of his adult stand-up comedy on YouTube. I could not believe that the quintessential dad, Danny Tanner, could say such things. Though I tried to comfort myself by saying that he was just playing a role in the series, it was still hard to digest. The discomfort does reveal that there are certain expectations of what a father should be like.
In the series, we see Danny Tanner as a deeply loving father who comes to his daughters where they are to understand them but at the same time, maintains his authority as the head of the family. He is a figure that combines compassionate vulnerable love as well as a healthy position of respect.
Though our relationship with God may have many facets to it, as human beings there is a need to anthropomorphize (attribute human characteristics) our love for God in ways that are tangible and relatable within human dimensions of relationship. The Bible uses the relationship between a child and his/her father as the predominant way to understand our relationship with God.
When Christ called God His personal father, it sent shock waves through the Jewish community of His time. In the Old Testament, we see God being the father of only Israel as a whole, but Jesus teaches the people to pray in such a way that they could now call God their own personal father. It was a radical shift in their understanding of God.
The two elements of intimate love as well as a recognition of greater authority and respect weave in beautifully with the image of the personal father. The archetypical father embodies both these in perfect balance such that one does not come in the way of the other. God is imminently loving and utterly transcendent.
Even 20 years after watching Full House it still brings back nostalgic emotions of the deep bonds of affection between Danny Tanner and his children. We are profoundly drawn to it precisely because it echoes in temporal ways the eternal reality of God’s love for His children.
Life Focus Society
Culture Unraveled is an initiative of Life Focus Society