What makes a man of God stop caring? Well, if it happens in the 80s, no one will notice.
It’s Sunday, and once again Marge is struggling to get her family to the church on time. It doesn’t help when Reverend Lovejoy’s sermon on constancy is putting people to sleep. Heck, he starts over when Homer hits his head, yells some profanity, and causes the Reverend to lose his place.
Marge at least cares about her faith and that church should not be a chore. A talk with Lovejoy shows she can always volunteer at the church, and later she intervenes with a phone call from Principal Skinner is having the usual sorts of Skinner-related problems. Lovejoy explains constant calls from Ned Flanders, a man once worried he was coveting his own wife, made the Reverend the apathetic man he is today.
But Marge isn’t like that and intercepts a call from Moe. Referring to herself as the “Listen Lady,” Marge actually listens to Moe and tells him he has a lot to live for. What those things are are unimportant, but it’s different from what Moe usually hears from Lovejoy, so he’s overjoyed. Then he has a question on behalf of his cat.
Thus begins Marge’s volunteer work at the church, and soon people want to talk to her about their problems while disregarding Lovejoy. Heck, even the saints show up to tell him off since they really aren’t friendly, and a line with HUGE implications comes in that Lovejoy is lucky God isn’t there in his church.
But whenever we get a plot that isn’t good enough to fill the show, we have to have a side plot, and here we see Homer discover a box of Japanese dish detergent called “Mr. Sparkle” that appears to have his face on it. Some phone calls are made, a bizarre TV commercial for the product is watched, and it all turns out to be a coincidence that doesn’t add up to much aside from a way to fill some time and show a really weird commercial.
But then at the church the worst happens: Ned calls in. Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney are hanging out in front of the Leftorium, and he’s worried. Marge tells him to tell them to leave. For daring to stand up for his business, the boys chase Ned with their mini-bikes all night, a fact Marge only learns about the next day when Maude asks if Homer came home because Ned sure didn’t.
Getting some more information, Lovejoy and the Simpson family track Ned to the zoo where he somehow got stuck in the baboon exhibit once the kids stopped chasing him. Now, Lovejoy may be an apathetic soul by this point, but he does know trains, and one goes through the exhibit at a level the baboons can apparently attack for some reason, but Lovejoy saves Ned and then has a dynamite story of adventure to keep the parishioners awake the following Sunday.
Now THAT’S religion!