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Summary: Jacob had periods in his life when he could have used some psychological intervention by someone like Dr. Phil. But in the end, he grew up, put his past behind him and became a great man.

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Where is Dr. Phil When Jacob Needs Him?

Genesis 25:19-34

February 24, 2008

Our son Matthew did his first two years of college (actually it took him three years to do his first two years) at Vincennes University. We were living in Elkhart at the time and VU had a satellite campus there. So Matt lived at home for that year. In high school, he had studied radio and television for two years at the Elkhart Career Center and was the recipient of the first scholarship that was given to the most improved student.

He got a job working as the Master Control Operator at the local FOX television station. He worked midnight to 7 am running the entire night programming schedule. He kept after me to come in to see what he did because he thought he was really cool. I had to wait until 2 am because he was too busy for the first two hours. I put him off for awhile because it was just too hard for me to stay awake, but finally relented. He let me in the door to the station at about 2:15 and showed me around. I was amazed and impressed.

I was amazed because I couldn’t believe that they would trust my son with multiple millions of dollars of equipment. He was the only one in the building. Even the custodian was gone. He ran all of the satellite feeds, played the commercials at the right time, and kept track of everything that happened in the station log book.

I was impressed because he knew what he was doing. He sat in a control booth surrounded on all four sides by monitors, knobs, switches, tape machines, satellite dish controls, and all sorts of other electronic stuff.

When I was there, he had just started the Jerry Springer Show. He said, ‘Watch this, Dad.” He then proceeded to move some slide controls up and down. I saw Jerry’s face go green and then red. Then the show went to black and white, and back to color. He played with the controls for fifteen or twenty seconds and then said, “Somewhere in Elkhart, there is a guy pounding on his TV wondering what is wrong with it!”

I never really “got” the Springer show. I couldn’t understand where they found all those folks to come on national television and showcase their incredibly dreary, dreadfully sad lives. I also have trouble believing that peoples’ lives can be that messed up. Perhaps I’ve just led a sheltered life.

Perhaps, since I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that loved, cared, and provided for me, I can’t understand people who didn’t have that advantage. Since I happened to marry a woman who loved me back and became a life partner, perhaps I can’t understand couples who go out of the way to torment each other. Perhaps because my kids have become relatively responsible adults, I can’t understand those who reject their parent’s teaching and leadership. Perhaps because Toni and I have done our best to rear our children, I can’t understand those people who don’t really give their all to their offspring.

I understand that families struggle sometimes, but I have trouble even imagining the plethora of dysfunctional relationships that parade in front of Jerry Springer night after night.

Dr. Phil McGraw has become another purveyor of exhibition TV. The difference between him and Springer is that he has credentials as a serious counselor. Springer got his law degree from Northwestern University in 1968, while McGraw received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from North Texas State University in 1975. His dissertation was titled, “Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Psychological Intervention. As an aside; another claim to fame for him is his career as a middle line backer for the University of Tulsa which, in 1968 lost to the University of Houston 100-6.

Dr. Phil, in my opinion, has discovered that there is money to be made from exhibitionist TV and has begun more and more to turn his show into a tabloid, as evidenced by his recent adventures with Brittany Spears and her family. Upcoming shows include young boys with eating disorders, people fighting over a loved one’s ashes, a family feud over money, people who are whiners and complainers, and people who are obsessed with their lovers.

But let’s face it; there have always been dysfunctional families. There have always been people who couldn’t get along. There have always siblings with an intense rivalry. There have always been mothers and fathers who have had different goals for the family.

Last week, we talked about Abraham and the near sacrifice of his son Isaac. When you read through the rest of the book of Genesis, you discover that Isaac’s family had enough craziness to fill up a whole season of Springer and Dr. Phil.

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