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Barney Fife's Judas kiss

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


word for wordFrom The Way Back to Mayberry: Lessons From a Simpler Time, by Joey Fann, published this month by Broadman & Holman of Nashville.

Fann is a software engineer in Huntsville, Ala., and a fan of The Andy Griffith Show. Two years ago, he began using stories from the show in a Bible class he teaches at his church.

"This show routinely portrayed some of the basic principles and morals that we as Christians hold very dear to our hearts," he says on his Web site, http://www.barneyfife.com.

Fann's book discusses 30 episodes in a Christian context. This excerpt is from Chapter Three, "You've Got a Friend."

-- MIKE WILSON, Floridian editor

* * *

"Andy on Trial"

The episode begins with Andy in a big city at the office of Mr. J. Howard Jackson... . Andy has come to arrest Mr. Jackson because he failed to appear in court for a traffic violation he received while traveling through Mayberry... . Andy brings Mr. Jackson back to Mayberry and fines him $15. Mr. Jackson is outraged... . He storms out of the courthouse vowing revenge on Andy.

Unbeknownst to Andy and Barney, Mr. Jackson sends a pretty, young female reporter to gather dirt on Andy -- anything he can use against the sheriff... . Of course, Barney is smitten with the young reporter and offers to show her around Mayberry... . Being very discreet, the reporter taps Barney for anything that could be used against Andy. Barney, caught up in all the attention, proceeds to tell the reporter that if he were in charge he would run the sheriff's department differently. Barney continues to complain about crimes going unpunished (Emma Watson's jaywalking) and the blatant unofficial use of the squad car (delivering groceries to a shut-in). As you can imagine, Mr. Jackson uses Barney's words to write a scathing article about Andy's administration.

The episode concludes with a hearing to determine if the charges against Andy can be substantiated... . Barney reluctantly tells the court that he did say the things printed in the article ... (but) goes on to defend Andy as the best friend he and the town of Mayberry ever had... .

In this episode, I'm sure Barney didn't intend to hurt Andy. He was caught up in the moment and was trying to impress the reporter. The last thing on his mind was that what he was saying could hurt his friendship with Andy, but it did. And it can happen to us. Even though we have no malice or ill intentions, we can hurt the very ones we depend on by trying to lift ourselves up. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we should try to incorporate the instruction in the Book of James and humble ourselves so that the Lord will lift us up.

As much as they mean to us, our friends are human and they can fail us the way Barney failed Andy. It helps me to remember that I do have a friend who will not fail me. A friend who has loved me since before I was born. A friend who cared so much for me that He actually died in my stead. A friend who wishes nothing more than to have a close, personal relationship with me. I have to admit that I don't automatically think of Jesus when I think of my close friends, but I should. He has done so much for me, and even though I often fail Him, He never stops loving me. And when you think about it, isn't that what friendship is all about?

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