|'Andy Griffith Show' fans tune in to its lessons in Bible Class|
|By Yvonne White
Times Religion Editor
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.In a scene on "The Andy Griffith Show" that takes place in church, a visiting preacher extols the merits of taking life slow and easy.
Afterward, as they exit the sanctuary, Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy, Barney Fife, shake hands with the speaker. "Yes, sir," says Barney, who was daydreaming during the sermon. "That's one subject you just can't talk enough about -- sin."
Although sin isn't the main focus of a special Bible study class at Twickenham Church of Christ here, the biblical and moral merits of "The Andy Griffith Show" are. Each Wednesday night this summer, the Mayberry faithful have gathered to sip lemonade, munch popcorn and watch an episode of the classic 1960s television sitcom, among the most popular of all time.
"It's really amazing where the discussion goes," said
Joey Fann, who worked with fellow church member Brad Grasham to design a curriculum for
the weekly hour-long class based on TAGS -- the fans' acronym for "The Andy Griffith
Eddie Levick, Twickenham's senior minister, said he has been surprised by the response to the class "from the community and beyond." People from nearby churches and from other towns said they wanted to attend the class but are unable to come on a weeknight. Shifting the time to Sunday evenings will make the class more accessible, he said.
At the Twickenham class, early arrivals are treated to taped folk music by the
Dillards, who appeared on the show as the Darlings and still perform on the bluegrass
circuit. Each class begins by viewing an episode about life in Mayberry, selected by Fann
and Grasham, followed by a discussion of the moral lesson it teaches and Scripture verses
to complement the various scenes.
Other stories included "Opie's Charity," in which Andy chastises his son for
saving to buy a gift for his girlfriend but later learns that Opie wanted to buy the girl
a coat because she needed one; "Barney Fife, Realtor," in which Barney gets into
real estate and urges Andy to shade the truth about problems with his house so it can
sell; and "Opie's Hobo Friend," in which Opie begins to emulate a hobo -- Mr.
Dave -- by playing hooky to go fishing.
The class "just gives you a nice break to sit back and really enjoy something while getting a good lesson in life," she said. "I usually see the characteristics of the people on the show in myself. It was a foregone conclusion I would attend this class."