Monday, December 10, 2018
Brother Richard DeMaria
My sisters and I have become fans of a new TV show, entitled “God Friended Me.” I am more and more convinced that underlying this humorous show is a serious theology. For those who have not seen it, here’s a brief summation of what it’s about.
“God Friended Me” centers upon a beguiling black man who does a podcast about why he is an atheist. He receives a friend request from someone called “God,” which he assumes is a hoax. But in each message from “God” he is advised to “friend” someone else. When he searches information on Facebook about those suggested, he decides to find them. In each case the person is depressed and is suffering because of a failed relationship in his or her life. The protagonist helps to heal that estrangement. He brings happiness to many people who were sad and lost. At the same time, he heals the relationship between himself and his father – an Anglican priest.
With the help of a tech-savvy friend, he tries to discover “God’s” identity by tracking his IP address. Their efforts fail. Even so, he keeps following up the leads that “God” gives him.
At one point, “God” un-friends him. The protagonist realizes, to his surprise, that he is disappointed about that, and that he has enjoyed the work of healing relationships. The moment he shares that on his podcast, “God” sends him a new request to be friends.
Eastern religions and some strong schools within Christian theology have long said that efforts to describe God only mislead us. It doesn’t matter if we can’t name God as long as we make ourselves instruments of his presence in the world. When we help people to love, we are making God present in the world.
So our protagonist is constantly bringing love into the world, that is, making God present in the world. If God is love, as the Gospel of John tells us, then God is present when we help others to love.
My guess is that in this TV show we will never find out who is sending these messages on the “God” account, and it will make no difference to the integrity of the story.
So, too, we can be God-makers without having a blueprint (or IP address) for God. I recommend this show on CBS as a good Advent meditation on religion and morality.
As for an update on me: A few weeks ago, I had a serious fall in the dining room that resulted in a black eye. For a week I was confined to a wheelchair, because my balance wasn’t very good. But now I am walking again, as long as someone is holding my hand or my arm.