get ordained

Image by Jill Greenberg for Syfy

The Universal Life Church gets a lot of publicity, from the ordination of celebrity ministers like Kathy Griffin and Conan O’Brien to the fight for sacerdotal rights across the United States, but the entertainment industry has taken the church’s exposure a step further. In a recent episode of the SyFy series Being Human, a vampire decides to marry his werewolf friends using his ULC ordination certificate in what very well may be a first for cable television and online churches alike.

Being Human, which was inspired by the original British series of the same name, follows the lives of several roommates who possess supernatural powers. When werewolf Josh and his vampire friend Aidan move into a Boston townhouse, they find out the place is already inhabited—by a ghost, Sally, who was murdered inside the house by her psychotic boyfriend. The trio quickly grow close to one another through their similar status as “monsters”, or supernatural outsiders, and vow to watch out for one another. Soon the trio is joined by Josh’s girlfriend, Nora, who was turned into a werewolf by him.

In Episode 12 of Season 3, Josh and Nora decide it is time to get married, since Sally has been resurrected as a zombie by a necromancer and has only hours left before she decays to death, becomes a ghost once more, and faces the necromancer in the afterlife. At this point, their good friend Aidan reveals he is a legally ordained minister: “…you’re looking at not only the officiant, but also the caterer”, he says, and Nora inquires, “How did the whole ordainment situation come about anyway? I mean, if you attended some Restoration divinity school in the nineteenth century, I’m going to feel super-fancy.” Aidan responds matter-of-factly, “Well, the Universal Life Church. Over 20 million ordained on ye old Interweb,” at which Nora chuckles bemusedly.

Before the wedding can take place, however, Sally passes away into the spirit world and must face her nemesis, Donna, the black magic practitioner who brought her back to life and now wants to feed on her soul. Fortunately Sally defeats Donna and returns in her original spirit form, and it is wedding bells inside the roommate’s quaint old parlor, with Aidan serving as wedding officiant. “Don’t you have, like, a book or something?” Sally asks her vampire friend, who responds, with an air of succinct modernity, “Well, since this is going to be what I will call a non-traditional wedding, I just want to say well done, both of you.” The ever-quirky Sally asks bride and groom, “Please tell me you’ve written your own vows, because there is nothing more romantic than writing your own—” “—So, we wrote our own vows”, interjects Josh, reflecting the very spirit of the modern wedding ceremony—to express a loving commitment in a relevant, personal, and meaningful way, not to mention exercise the right to become an ordained minister in order to marry friends and family.

A vampire marries his werewolf friends with their ghost-turned-flesh-eating-zombie-turned-ghost in eager attendance. The way in which Being Human depicts online ordination is humorous and entertaining, but perhaps most important is the writers’ choice to use the increasingly popular genre of supernatural drama to make becoming ordained online feel normal and acceptable. Hopefully we can expect more positive, playful, and uplifting media portrayals of online ordination in the future.

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