I’m in two minds about God creeping into entertainment. On one hand it’s better to have shows about God than about anything else, on the other hand misrepresenting God is probably as dangerous as preaching atheism.
This summer there was a show about people who were left out after “rapture”, it had a very impressive start, imo, and I covered the first few episodes here but then it disintegrated into pursuing its mundane plot and I don’t even remember how it ended.
Its characters were focused on God all throughout but Christianity puts a limitation on how far they can actually go. After the first push they ran into a wall of selfishness. God as an order supplier can reveal Himself only so much, after that it’s dealing with your own life problems which aren’t interesting anymore.
How people feel about this, how they feel about that, what they are going to do about it all – I bet it’s not only me, God stopped watching it, too.
We aren’t any closer to God and we don’t have any higher realizations but we have an unbreakable connection to Him via our guru. Our critics can say whatever they want about quality of our guidance but the fact remains that paramparā is our link to Kṛṣṇa regardless of how it looks on the outside.
It would be wrong of us to expect progress in terms of acquiring some mystical powers and visions, I think everyone eventually realizes that, and with this hope gone all we have left is following the orders of our gurus. It might not look like much but it signals a change of direction – from pursuing razzledazzle of never ending bliss to quiet appreciation of every little crumb of devotion and mercy that comes out way.
Instead of prolonging the euphoria we cultivate patience and determination, and spiritual self-sufficiency – words of our critics don’t touch us anymore, we realize that one single word of our guru, one single moment of proper association is worth thousands and thousands of lifetimes, what to speak of critical articles on the internet.
We also get to realize that mercy is all around us if we are humble enough to admit it into our hearts and cherish it properly. We might not have anything to show for it but we also realize that devotional life is not for show, it’s for cleansing out own hearts and as long as it works we don’t care how it looks on the outside.
Christians and God seekers from The Leftovers had not internal goals to pursue, even the most dedicated ones. For them it was all about the rules and mechanics but we know that bhakti cannot be achieved by manipulating material energy – our bodies and world around us. That’s why they always end up in frustration – they tie up their spiritual progress to their external behavior, and Kali yuga always messes it up for everyone.
Austerities, temple worship, meditation – those things worked for us once, too, but in this age they are unreliable and time wasting. The only path to God lies through chanting and talking about Him, not through following external rules and obligations.
“What about four regs?” one might ask. What about them? If we chant sincerely following our regs comes naturally without extraneous effort, and if we don’t chant sincerely then forcing ourselves to behave won’t add anything to our spiritual advancement.
Having material attachments is not a sin, it’s holding onto them and hoping they would bring us happiness is what is offensive. We shouldn’t focus our attention on our external behavior, we have Holy Names to chant, that’s our only duty and our only service, everything else will fall in place automatically. That’s what faith is, from śraddhā to niṣṭhā.
Last month Amazon had a pilot of a show called “Hand of God”, the idea was… Wait, let’s start from the beginning. Amazon is a huge company with diverse interests, one of those is “in-house” entertainment. They are no longer content with selling content produced by others, which was originally limited to books, now they want vertical integration – their own entertainment sold through their own channel to people using their own devices.
They looked at success of Netflix original shows and thought they could do the same. This summer had seen the third round of such pilots, success is still eluding them but they are trying, throwing every idea at a wall and waiting for the one that sticks.
One of those ideas was a show about God. With their attitude in mind it was bound to be a cheap ride on a popular topic and that’s what they ended up with. It’s still not known if the pilot was received warmly enough to order a full season but that is not an important criterion of success for us anyway.
Was it really about God and His effect on our lives and our hearts? Or was it just a platform for miracles convenient for plot twists? They packed quite a lot in that pilot, trying to make it as shocking as possible. There was a judge who went off his rocker becoming born again Christian and we get to see and wonder if there’s any goodness and purity, and “hand of God” behind his madness.
Despite the name, God isn’t an attraction in this show, it’s what this super duper judge can do and how he can impress us, the mere hoi polloi, with his brilliant intelligence, high octane energy, wisdom etc. Once I realized that I lost all interest.
They again try to use God to make themselves look good. Humility is just not their strong suit. As soon as they get touched by this “hand of God” they use it to extend their powers and their control over material world. They never even think about becoming servants, only about masters of the universe, and they demand God’s blessings.
Is there any value in such utilization of God, as was my question in the beginning? I don’t know. God is absolute, everyone who remembers Him in any context purifies his existence but “God” isn’t the best name to remember so the effect is limited, and if one approaches God with the desire to take His powers and use them for his own pleasure then he kind of seals his own fate.
It’s what impersonalists do – they want to become God themselves, they don’t want to become servants. That’s what demons do, too – Viṣṇu is there to be equaled to and then possibly defeated. This attitude is decidedly undevotional.
Is it better than atheism, though? Not necessarily. First of all, they ARE atheists – they reject their relationships with God even if they accept His existence. They are even greedier than ordinary atheists who at least do not hanker after God’s powers to help them in their sense enjoyment.
We’ve also seen millions of atheists in former Soviet block countries becoming best of devotees. I think it was because their atheism wasn’t actually offensive towards God, they simply didn’t know anything about Him, and once they heard our message they immediately became receptive. It’s not the lack of knowledge, it’s the offensive attitudes in our hearts that make us into atheists.
I guess I should have clarified the meaning of “atheist” here first but it’s a big topic, even atheists themselves do not always agree on various aspects of this term.
And I still don’t know the answer if we should welcome using God for entertainment purposes. Certainly not for our own, of course, but for the rest of the population.