I am fascinated by depictions of the heavenly realm. As I read through Revelations and the visions of the prophets I am enamored by the images that they paint. There are many outlets of our media that do this as well such as, “The Good Place,” the new hit tv show on NBC. From capturing the functionality and creation of the “Good Place,” creator Michael Schur has been able to imagine the existence of life after death. You may recognize this name since he is a writer/producer of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and also plays Dwight’s cousin Mose on The Office. So you know this is gonna be great.
Since episode 1, I fell in love with this series. From tackling what kinds of foods are in heaven to what happens when an imperfect person enters a perfect place, this sitcom has it all. Even though it may not address things from a religious standpoint, it has a sense of humility throughout the series. “The Good Place” has motivated me to become more imaginative about what life looks like after death.
Living in a perfect world. So what does “The Good Place” teach about… the Good Place? In this series, Kristen Bell plays a woman named Eleanor who mistakenly crosses over into the Good Place. Her actions and perception do not match at all with the people around her and she feels like an outsider. I think many people think this of heaven… and, well church. Many presume both of these to be communities of moral aptitude and full of error-less frigid people and that can be down right intimidating.
A Righteous Fitbit. Is righteousness defined by works? Chidi, a professor of morality in the show, would definitively say yes. Admittance into the Good Place is based upon the amount of good you have done while on earth. In the show, Eleanor is given a “good works” Fitbit which I find hilarious. How many of us use this same device to determine good activity? We clip it on our clothes or wrap it around our wrist to make sure we are on due course in our physical lives. But then again, many of us think the same when it comes to our own righteousness.
Hell is other people. The twist at the end of the season is that they were in Hell all along. This was a great tactic that will have me rewatching the show and that gives an alternative dimension to all of the characters. We learn that the person who made this place (Ted Danson, whom I adore) is actually using peoples’ insecurities and flaws to create disorder and an eternal condemnation. This arches into the present and current state of the world. Satan is using our insecurities and our flaws to incite hatred against one another. We see it all around us.
The church used to be better about envisioning heaven. Paintings would cover walls and ceilings inside of churches. Stained-glass windows would show stories of the Gospels and heavenly realms. But now we’ve estranged ourselves from thinking about the heavenly realm and left media to do it for us. Let’s not be outdone. As shows like “The Good Place” depict the average notions of heaven, Christians must be on the forefront to offer a more Gospel-centered eternity than one only perceived by “good” people doing “good” works. Images need to be created that capture the merciful Messiah that not only demands but deserves praise and adoration for making a broken and destitute people worthy of His Good Place.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”-Revelation 4:9-11