Jerusalem Dragnet

As a radio guy I have a great appreciation for the traditions of the medium.

I missed the golden age of radio drama. By the time I was born television, though still in its infancy, was beginning to take off. Pictures were replacing the aural landscape that dominated North American entertainment for three decades.

Some shows did make the transition from radio to television, and those I do remember, especially one long-running crime drama, Dragnet. It was a formulated when our society had strictly defined values and concepts, and understanding of what was good and what was not. You can check out an example of the radio show here or the later TV version here. My generation (and my parent’s generation) had the show opening memorized; even if we didn’t listen or watch; we knew it. Dragnet was a cultural touchstone.

Which is probably why, back in 1979, the guys in the Christian comedy troupe Isaac Air Freight chose to do their version of Dragnet, called “Jerusalem Dragnet.” The format needed no interpretation, the skit was instantly recognizable. For a time, in the early 1980s, I would play “Jerusalem Dragnet” on my Easter Sunday radio program. It just seemed so appropriate, a humorous retelling of the gospel account of Jesus’ last days.

I was thinking about Good Friday and Easter earlier this week, and “Jerusalem Dragnet” came to mind, so I listened to it for the first time in at least ten years.

I still found it funny.

What struck me most though was how our society has changed in the 35 years since I first heard the piece.

The Dragnet format probably isn’t that familiar to most people anymore. Sadly the police are no longer seen as righteous by many in society. (Perhaps even sadder is that sometimes that is deservedly so.)

Even more though, while I thought the piece was funny, I doubt my younger co-workers would have agreed. I suspect they would have missed the jokes completely and have no idea when to laugh. As I listened I realized that the humour depends very much on familiarity with the details of the Easter story – and there are a lot of people nowadays who have no idea of the historical events of Good Friday and Easter. They know those holidays have something to do with Christianity, but they are a little hazy as to where the rabbit and eggs fit in. (For the record, you won’t find either of those in the Bible.)

Our culture has become Biblicly illiterate. Which means if you choose to listen to this piece of comedy by clicking on the link below (it’s ten minutes long) you’ll perhaps not understand why it is funny. You can either take my word for it, or read the story of Good Friday and Easter for yourself first here. There are several Biblical accounts, I`ve chosen one at random.

I hope you take the time to listen to “Jerusalem Dragnet.” After all, today is Good Friday – you probably don’t have to work, so you can spare the ten minutes. Leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

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