Episode Reviewed: For Three Dollars More (718)
Writer: Marshal Younger
Director: Dave Arnold
Sound Designer: GAP Digital
Music: John Campbell
Scripture: Luke 16:10
Original Airdate: 10/27/12

Review Written by: Ben Warren, Staff Writer

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

When Barrett questions the value of tithing, Matthew, Connie, and Whit send him on trips in the Room of Consequence to see the results of his actions.


The Review

Something doesn't feel quite right when programming the Room of Consequence can be done by anybody, takes about 30 seconds, and hardly depends on the person entering it or even their personal problem. In For Three Dollars More, Matthew Parker sounded proud of his programming abilities, but I wondered what exactly he programmed in the first place.

This is just one of many quibbles I have with For Three Dollars More. Don't get me wrong, I found the episode entertaining, enjoyed its pace and energy, enjoyed the dialogue, and smiled when I heard Brandon Gilberstadt's voice. But the episode goes about teaching its message in a rather bizarre manner.

If you recall, Matthew Parker's ROC adventure attempted to explain why we tithe. Essentially, Matthew's message was: if everybody decided not to tithe a portion of their money then society would crumble. The problem is not Matthew's messagewhich is actually, technically, a valid onebut it is in the exaggerated way it is presented. As Barrett said, "That was a bunch of baloney! [...] Powerful silly. [...] Absurd!"

Then, Connie Kendall's ROC adventure tried to teach us that by not tithing to the church, someone somewhere might have benefited from the money you chose to withhold. Like Matthew Parker's lesson, it was criticized as being "completely unrealistic" and "melodramatic". However, I didn't think this was a completely invalid lesson to teach kids, either. Althoughas Whit mentions at the endGod doesn't "need" our money to accomplish what He wants, I do think there can be real consequences to our selfish actions.

At this point in this episode, I'm somewhat confused. Are we criticizing Connie and Matthew's claims, or are we criticizing the absurd way in which these claims are presented? Personally, I think their lessons do hold some truth. But let's hope Whit manages to teach us both the primary reason for why we should give to the church and explain it in a logical, level-headed manner...

Oddly, Whit didn't. Barrett accuses the first two adventures as being "manipulative", and Whit concurs that these adventures "did not allow Barrett to see the result of his actions". So what does Whit do? Strangely, in his Room of Consequence adventure, he removes Barrett's ability to make any decisions whatsoever and makes him stand back and watch his virtual self make decisions. Isn't that even more manipulative, Whit?

In fact, Whit's ROC adventure was the most manipulative out of the bunch. It manipulates the listener by over-generalizing that people who do not tithe in church end up like Scrooge McDuck. Based on this assertion, I wonder: Will everyone who doesn't tithe to the church turn into a miserable old Scrooge? Surely there are great non-Christian, non-church going philanthropists who are quite generous with their money. By the end, I found Whit's ROC adventure even more preposterous than the first two.

A large problem with the episode is that it doesn't focus on tithingas it promises to dobut talks about the importance of giving instead. I come out of it knowing that I should give, but not really knowing why I should be giving to the church. If I'm a kid, I have plenty of other questions: are there other ways of tithing than just putting money into the church? Is 10% a figurative or literal number? And what about those verses that talk specifically about tithing such as Genesis 14:20, Matthew 23:23, and Luke 11:42? There seems to be very little mention of the biblical roots of tithing, here.

Oddly enough, Whit does eventually teach us the primary reason for why we should give:
"We give out of obedience. We give because we want to be good stewards of our money. We give because of how much God gave to us. And we should give with a cheerful heart, knowing that what we do give has eternal value".
But if the primary reason for giving/tithing is to "give out of obedience", then why did Whit's Room of Consequence adventure focus on a different lesson entirely? (i.e: when we don't foster a spirit of generosity in hearts, then we foster a spirit of greed".) The primary lesson for children is should be that we give out of obedience to God. The result of that givingand secondary lessonis that in giving we create a lifelong spirit of giving. Through Whit's supposedly "perfect" ROC illustration, the episode flips that around, illustrating only the secondary pointthat we should tithe primarily out a fear of fostering a spirit of greed. The lesson of "obedience", here, acts as a footnote.

How could we fix this episode? Perhaps by addingstrangely enoughWooton Bassett. Wooton and exaggeration go together like PB & J. If Wooton programmed the third Room of Consequence adventure instead of Whit, then we would have had three exaggerated, yet still valid, reasons for why we should tithe. And then Whit could have appeared at the end of the episode and said something along the lines of, "Although those are three valid reasons for why we should tithe, I don't need a Room of Consequence adventure to tell you the main reason: we give out of obedience...'"

I never expect an in-depth
Hallowed Be Thy Name type of episode to explain lessons. I don't even expect every episode to teach very much at all. However, every episode HAS to teach what it sets out to teach. Or else, what's the point? Without banging us over the head with its themes, last week's Great Expectations and The Perfect Church taught us in simple and effective ways, but For Three Dollars More's use of Room of Consequence just makes the episode feel a little inconsequential.





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