Lisa abandons her Christian faith (after the local church sells ad space inside of it to cover the damages done by Homer and Bart's toy rocket) and opts for a new one that still allows her to be close to God, Buddhism. When word gets around, Marge tries to win her back to Christianity, but Lisa refuses.
Tropes of this episode:
- Abusive Parents: Homer proclaims that in his house, he controls what his children (well, Bart and Maggie) eat and believe in. Then forces Bart too eat his breakfast as unhealthily as possible When Bart protests that eating like this is making his heart hurt, Homer gives him a murderous blood lust satanic Carni-Kiss Death Glare.
- Ad Hominem: The criticisms of Christianity in this episode, including Lisa's crisis of faith and conversion to Buddhism, hinge on this trope. The catalyst and case for them are the actions of a few Christians; Reverend Lovejoy and the congregation compromising by allowing Mr Burns to fund the church and dictate its layout. God's existence, nature, authority, and the merit of His teachings/the Bible is not touched upon at all, thus making it a very selective criticism.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Lovejoy doesn't like the changes anymore than Lisa but Burns paid the reconstruction on those conditions. The church is reverted back to its old looks not just because Status Quo Is God but because they paid off the debt.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment:
Dolph: I'll tell you someone who cares. He's got long hair, works as a carpenter, has a lot of crazy ideas about love and brotherhood.Jimbo: His name's Gunnar and he's dating my mom. Sometimes he buys us beer.
- There's a scene where it seems Homer is berating Lisa for becoming a Buddhist. He's actually berating Bart for not buttering up his bacon. He does it again when he tells Bart to bacon up a sausage.
- The bullies' response when Bart asks who cares about Lisa dumping Christianity.
- Bowdlerization, Word of God, and What Could Have Been: Originally, there was supposed to be a scene where an Arab man named Hassan Jay Salam is arrested for shooting the rocket into the church because the rocket has his initials on it (which are actually Homer's initials), but, because of the 9/11 attacks and fear of backlash from Arab viewers, the producers had the scene cut. The DVD commentary talks about the missing scene, and it is included on the deleted scenes reel on the DVD.
- Though this does lead to Fridge Logic if one asks why Homer wasn't arrested for blowing up the church, since other people didn't know until later that it was an accident and accidental destruction of property can still carry legal penalties and punishments.
- Blasphemous Boast: Not that boastful but extremely blasphemous is the money changer saying that you can change money in the house of God, this is a reference to the Bible where Jesus Berserk Button was pushed when he found out they made his Father's house a house of commerce and kicked out the money changers.
- Call-Back: Benjamin, Doug and Gary from the episode "Homer Goes to College" have a cameo.
- Crisis of Faith: Plot of the episode.
- Graceful Loser: Burns tries to disappear in a smoke bomb with the benefit the church made plus his initial gain. When he fails reaching the door in time he just throws all the money at the church committee. No one even tried stopping him he was just disgusted his escape failed.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kearney, a known bully and petty thug, is right to point out what has to be done about the church, making it a priority.
- Burns also fits this trope; after all he did help rebuild the church, even if the advertisements inside were in bad taste. Subverted in that he actually wanted to make a run for it with the profit the church made but when he failed he ended up being a Graceful Loser.
- Kid Has a Point: Lisa does explain to Bart she's not going for a new way to worship just because it's sounds cool, she rather find one that brings her peace while reminding God that she still respects Him.
- Kick the Dog: Homer forces Bart to place a bacon around his sausage with a Death Glare despite his son starting to complain about his health.
- Moral Dissonance: At the start of the episode Lisa leaves her Christian faith because she feels her local church has become too commercialized. She then becomes a Buddhist, but is confronted by a dilemma because her parents try to lure her back in by celebrating Christmas (though Christmas, as celebrated today, has some traditions that were re-purposed from paganism). Lisa likes celebrating Christmas, but at the same time she wants to stick to her Buddhist beliefs. Then Richard Gere informs her that while Buddhism is about one finding inner peace, it is also about respecting the diversity of other religions based on love and compassion - thus, Lisa is free to celebrate any holiday with her family including Christmas. So... when you think about it: Lisa now more or less joins Christianity again for the same reason she originally abandoned it: she just wants to have her Christmas presents and take part in a holiday celebration that has become increasingly commercialized in recent times!
- No More for Me: Upon seeing the Simpsons' rocket in the sky, a bum decides to stop drinking and throws away his bottle. A businessman subsequently catches it and promptly sits in the gutter and tosses his briefcase away to drink it.
- Noodle Incident: When thinking up ideas to fix the church, Marge suggests they "write to David Bowie again".Rev. Lovejoy: No, he's done enough for this church.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Marge is very intolerant of Lisa leaving Christianity and joining Buddhism, while Homer isn't particularly bothered by it.
- Lisa herself also acts out of character here. In Homer the Heretic Homer felt going to Church was a waste of time, but raised some thought provoking points about it. Despite that Lisa shunned him for doing so. In this episode Lisa is the one having good reasons to leave the increasingly commercialized Church of Springfield and not wanting to go to Church anymore. The odd thing is that she has criticized the local Church before, but usually separated this from her genuine belief in God. Now she seems to have put the two together and chooses for another religion, though one could raise a lot of similar critical points about Buddhism as one could about Christianity.
- Pet the Dog: Even though he opts for commercialism, Mr. Burns does live up to his promise to help rebuild for the church. Granted his plan was to prostitute the church and run with the money it made but he didn't fight hard when his escape failed.
- Product Placement: The episode's Chalkboard Gag had Bart writing, "I do not have a cereal named after me." When this episode aired, he didBart Simpson Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch.
- Recognition Failure: Despite being a Buddhist Lenny astonishingly has no idea who the Dalai Lama is, nor Buddha.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Nibbles the Hamster decides to eject himself from the rocket rather than to follow Homer's correction instructions.
- Special Guest: Richard Gere as himself.
- Vocal Dissonance: After Lisa plants her very own sacred fig tree to meditate, Homer, under Marge's orders to sway Lisa back to Christianity, puts a little, feminine-looking singing Christmas angel on top of the tree. Said angel barks out "Jingle Bells" in Homer's own recorded voice.