Thursday, November 23, 2017


David Cassidy died yesterday. News these days often centers around entertainers and their missteps.  I would guess living in the spotlight is a life few can handle gracefully all of the time. The following, from July 17, 2009, is about a television family that dealt with that reality off camera.

I confess to a weakness for cable TV, which I don't have at home. When visiting Scott or Dave, I'm drawn to the history and biography channels. History fascinates me, especially the in-depth looks at lives I know only from television or radio. During the past two days, I watched biographies of Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, and Danny Bonaduce. Taking separately, those names might mean little but seen together, they represent three of the six members of The Partridge Family. As a kid, I was a faithful watcher of The Partridge Family, a sitcom based loosely on the real life family musical group, The Cowsills, who had a huge hit with their song, The Rain, The Park, And Other Things. I admit, the main reason I watched The Partridge Family was the gorgeous Susan Dey, who played the older daughter, Laurie. But, it was an upbeat show, focusing on the struggles of a single mother and her kids, trying to make it in the music business. The Partridge Family even cut a number of successful records, although only Cassidy and Jones actually were performing the songs. The series ran four years and became a part of the fabric of television. The songs released during that four year span still pop up on oldies stations, reminding listeners of a much less complicated time in American television, music, and culture.

As I watched the biographies of Jones, Cassidy, and Bonaduce, I realized how little the show mirrored the lives of its stars. Shirley Jones was an Oscar winning actress-singer. She had garnered critical acclaim on both stage and screen (Oklahoma!, Carousel, Elmer Gantry) but was in a destructive marriage to Jack Cassidy, a well-known actor and David's real life father. David had suffered as a young boy when his father and biological mother divorced without telling him and learning about Shirley only after his father had married her. David felt suffocated by the enormous fame generated by his stardom which destroyed any semblance of a private life, leading him to walk away from the show. Bonaduce, from a family with an abusive father, has struggled with drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and a volatile temper. On the television, it looked as if their lives, if not perfect, were certainly happy and on the right track. Sooner or later, the cameras had to stop rolling.

Although the Partridges were fictitious, we all know families that mirror that scenario. From the outside, things appear normal and peaceful but the reality is, the unit is disintegrating. I see that in the prayer requests of my students, devastated by the conditions they deal with at home. Families are made up of imperfect mothers and fathers and kids in any number of combinations. Money or fame may airbrush the flaws to the outside world but it's hard to hide from each other. The family was ordained and organized by God, even before there were children. Adam and Eve had heartaches; how would you feel if one son murdered the other? But families have so many benefits in spite of our human flaws. David wrote in Psalm 68:6 that, "God sets the lonely in families...." David's home life was as chaotic as that of anyone who ever lived but he saw the wisdom in the Lord's plan. Families are increasingly diverse in our culture but they still have this in common with those of decades past; they are either sources of great joy or great despair to the individual members. It doesn't take a documentary to figure that out.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I wanted some family structure and stability, and that's what The Partridge Family afforded me, not only financially but in the fact that I could be at home with my kids."

Shirley Jones

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God bless,
Luke 18:1
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