If you haven't been watching already, there's still time to catch parts of the PBS series "Walking the Bible" with Bruce Feiler, and the David Sutherland documentary "Country Boys."
It's been interesting, and helpful, to watch the former while reading the Old Testament; although the program is more a multimedia walking meditation on the part of Feiler than an in-depth study of history and culture. I also enjoy listening to biblical archaeologists and historians, who often seem more open-minded and genuinely curious than theologians, many of whom seem to begin their study of Scripture's historical and cultural contexts with an agenda rather than an adventurer's urge to discover and learn.
And, while the terrain and the accents are different, "Country Boys" could have been made here in Outer Podunk; it's not only an exploration of coming-of-age, but also of the poverty, dysfunction and diminished expectations that many rural young people fight to overcome. I've felt a special sympathy for Chris, one of the young men profiled, who is obviously a brilliant kid, but who has been so beaten down by the circumstances in his life that he has lost a tremendous amount of self-confidence. I can see him as a gifted social worker or essayist -- or both; he, on the other hand, can scarcely believe he's capable of passing a GED. This is the world I grew up in, in blue-collar, small-town America.
Two thumbs up.