Did you see NBC's "The Office" on Thursday? Pam and Jim's baby was baptized in a fictional church in Scranton, Pennsylvania that bore a remarkable resemblance to one of southern California's prettiest, Church of the Angels in Pasadena, whose longtime rector is my clergy buddy the Rev. Canon Robert J. Gaestel.
Bob's one of several priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles whose classic-looking buildings frequently end up on TV and in movies. By now Bob's blase about the Hollywood stuff. In fact I don't think he'd be ashamed if I revealed that, when I asked him excitedly whether he'd met Steve Carell during the taping a couple of months ago, he replied, "Who's Steve Carell?" Whereas I'm still buzzed just about seeing one of my favorite hangs on TV. Bob and a half-dozen of us meet every other month in the COA parish hall, in a sitting room located through the doorway that you can see over actor John Krasinski's right shoulder. I'm also pretty sure I spotted the snazzy new coffeemaker Bob's been deploying lately during our day-long gabfests.
Carell's character, the irredeemably off-key Michael Scott, jokes in a bad Italian accent about being the baby's godfather (which, in fact, he isn't) and impulsively jumps on a bus with the cheerful members of the church's youth group as they prepare to depart on a three-month service trip in South America. How refreshing that "The Office" didn't make fun of the church folk, who were as well-adjusted and sincere as members of the ensemble cast (employees and executives of a paper company) were misanthropic. Imagine that: A TV comedy that makes you want to go to church. In case you do, here's the real thing.