- September 26th, 2003
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In true geek style, I spent my Friday evening where all geeks doat homeand watched the new season premieres of a couple shows I thought would be good. The first was a new show, called “Joan of Arcadia.” The other was a show that I try not to miss, although with its move to Friday evenings at nine, it’s going to be tough not to miss it at least a couple times this season: “Boston Public.”
Though I was hardly expecting it because the shows are on two different networks and generally cover different topics, the shows were related tonight. Both were season premieres, and interestingly enough, both covered the topic of God.
This is hardly surprising for “Joan of Arcadia,” given the fact that the entire series is based on the premise that a teenaged girl is visited by God, who somehow manages to convince her that He really is the Almighty and that He wants her to “do some errands” for Him. Even the show’s title is punning on the idea. I suppose that the topic of God is rather, well, unavoidable in a story like that.
But what surprised me was “Boston Public” tonight. Part of its story was that it involved a young man who got electrocuted by a malfunctioning slide projectorbelievable, I knowand came out afterward thinking he was Jesus.
Both are interesting premises. But what really got me thinking was the reaction that both shows took to the “news,” so to speak. Obviously, if you were a teenaged girl and some guy walked up to you one day and told you he was God, you might be a little skeptical. And if some kid came out the other end of an accident thinking he was the Messiah, you might wonder whether the electrical current fried his cerebellum a little bit.
But in the first instance, it really is God. At least, that’s the way the show handles it. There’s no doubting on our end, no wondering if he’s really lying. It really is God, and He really does want to get something out of Joan. With the other, there’s obviously the fact that we know that this student is really a person who, up until the time he was shocked, did not believe he was divine. But afterward, his actions were, well, Christlike. He didn’t appear to have any ulterior motives in behaving the way he did; he just acted like it was in his nature to help people.
What got me thinking, and ultimately made me want to write this, was how the people involved dealt with the situations. And it made me realize that if something like that happened in real life, I didn’t know how we as a world would react.
After all, a vast majority of the planet’s population believes in God. And a vast majority of those people believe in Jesus. So why is it so hard to believe that God would set foot on the planet in the guise of an ordinary person, or that a person believed he was the Son of God?
I mean, what if the person really was God? You obviously have no way of knowing that it’s not, so how can you be so sure? We, as a world, are so dead-set on believing that God is some third party who doesn’t interfere that we tend to think that it’s impossible that God would actually deign to talk to one of us directly. As I once read: “When we talk to God, it’s called prayer. So why is it that when God talks to us, it’s called schizophrenia?” We’re so quick to judge anybody who says something as audacious as “God spoke to me today” that we won’t even allow ourselves to think about the larger message involved. But many of us continue to go about our supposedly religious lives assuming that God is out there, watching over us.
So where do we draw the line? I am what I would consider to be a spiritual person. I believe in God. I have some problems with organized religion, so I don’t go to church very often, but I still think I have a pretty close relationship to God. So I have to ask myself: How would I react if somebody walked up to me, knowing everything about my life, and claimed to be God? Would I be skeptical and brush them off, or would I try to open my eyes a bit?
Maybe we all need to take a step back and think about the implications of a situation like this. Or maybe, if we all treated the person next to us as if he was God, we’d all be a little more decent to each other. It’s a thought worth having.