A few days ago I was listening to this podcast called “This American Life,” if you haven’t heard of it before this, then you’re welcome. But they feature real life stories, from a journalistic slant using a first-person narrative.
In this particular episode they begin the show speaking about those who are suffer from what’s called called the “Truman Show Delusion,” highlighting an unnamed professor who has come to believe that he is a contestant of a reality game show.
The host of the show Ira Glass says, “One of the things that he included in his delusion… is that he has the thought that he actually was the mastermind who created this game show that he was on, and that he controlled it and he knew the rules when he had originally created the show. But somehow he had forgotten that and all the rules…”
Ira goes on to then, in an epiphanated type moment, say, “[this] is so interesting, because of course it’s true. Like, he did invent the game show, and the only fact that he’s missing is that it’s not real. It’s all in his own head.”
I’ve heard before that the only thing that separates the delusional from the non-delusional are those that recognize their thoughts are delusional.
This made me think about the Church.
Now, I’m not referring to the belief in God being delusional neither am I making any statement that God’s a figment of our imagination. What I’m referring to is the conservative boxed-in version of God. The version of God that is really just a figment of someone else’s imagination in which we’ve been coerced into not just believing but worshipping.
Our faith becomes dangerous when it goes unexamined. It’s when we’re not even willing to consider the thought that what we believe in we created ourselves and that what we believe in might very well be false. Is not our faith only as credible as one’s willingness to examine it?
I think it’s a perfect illustration, this podcast, reflecting the life of a Christian, who is constantly living in a state of performance; feeling as if every single part of their life is under scrutiny because “God is watching,” or your accountability partner is tracking, or that you might run into someone you know while “sinning.”
What’s most heartbreaking about this is when there are many of us suffering at the hands of a system yet have no idea they’re suffering, let alone that there is something out there much, much better for them.
The feelings and thoughts I get when I go to church are the same feelings and thoughts I get when I go to the zoo, wondering if the animals realize there not in the environment God intended them to be in .
In the first act of the podcast they go highlight an eccentric game show in Japan in which a comedian was selected and put in a small empty apartment with nothing, not even clothing. In order to win back his clothes and earn food “he will have to win them by entering sweepstakes in those magazines. They give him postcards to send in for prize drawings.”
In the apartment there was no bed, no chair, there was nothing but a stack of magazines. And not until he was able to win a million yen via entering various sweepstakes he was not permitted to have any outside contact with others. It was borderline forced imprisonment, solitary confinement, and malnourishment.But it wasn’t.
Because here’s the most interesting thing, nobody was keeping him there. The door to the apartment was unlocked. He could’ve up and left at any point in time, yet for one reason or another, he chose to stay put. Meaning, nobody was keeping him there. There wasn’t even a signed contract. Stephanie Foo, the journalist reporting this story asks just as confused as us, “…but wait, really, why?”
This is my question to us as Christian’s who know that the door is unlocked yet remain in an institution that is keeping them caged in misery…
“…But wait, really, why ?”
Religion I’m fine with, God I believe in, the Church I am for…
But as a pastor I came to discover that we perpetuated an alternate reality by falsifying a backwards morality. It was a morality used to obfuscate away from reality. A reality in which coerced one to “willingly” suppress who they were in exchange for an unreachable version of someone else others wished us to be. I’m not saying to leave your church if it is giving you meaning, purpose, and spiritual fulfillment but I am saying to leave your church if it’s making you miserable or keeping you from living the life you want.
Why…? Because you don’t have to stay, there’s something better out there for you. If you’ve been waiting for that sign from “God” then this is it.
Believe me, anything that is keeps you feeling small or someone other than who you were created to be, it’s not worth it. Life is too short and too fleeting to waste it. How draining and soul-destroying it is to constantly pretend to be someone you’re not, let alone believe that who you are is wrong.
 This is not to say, or suggest, that we as humans are the same as animals.
 I, personally, was exiled. So to be fair, I didn’t choose to voluntarily leave. It was me choosing to stay and tell them racism and a falsified morality was not in “God’s plan.” Some say this was masochistic of me, I just think that was, and still is, just and necessary. But this is partially what I have meant when I’ve said that everything is both falling apart and yet coming together at the same time.