Sermons

Summary: Talking about MTV's the Real World and True Life shows, as well as the act of directing and producing as a way of getting at the truth of who the Holy Spirit is.

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Three in One who sent the Holy Spirit that we might know His truth.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

MTV gave us our first ever "reality show", a thing called "The Real World" that came out in 1992. The first "Real World" cast sought to show us what happens when you put seven strangers in a house together, and quote, "people stop being polite, and start being real". And the world sat there, glued to their television screens --- stopping their own real worlds watching a real world on television, a real world that probably had little to do with their own lives, but for some reason, perhaps because of all of the hype, or because of the caustic nature of the relationships, or maybe just because of the camera angles - seemed like it was real.

Today, thirteen years into the future, despite declining viewership, MTV has jettisoned music videos in favor of reality television - a genre that the network at least popularized, if not created. And the great granddaughter of The Real World still gives us glimpses into the lives of others, the reality series, "True Life". Unlike the Real World, True Life doesn't purposefully put strangers into a crucible so that their "true selves" will pop out. Instead, they take advantage of the crucibles that people are already dealing with in their own lives. Every True Life episode tells you immediately what the person is dealing with: True Life: I'm in a forbidden relationship; True Life: I have pushy parents; True Life: I'm a gay athlete; True Life: I have epilepsy; True Life: I'm breaking up with my religion.

"True Life" is more investigative interviews than it is "reality show", but it does still engage us in the same out-of-body-reality that "The Real World" did. We still sit there and watch, wondering if THAT is what "True Life" is for someone else, and how that corresponds with the reality of our own lives. It makes us ask bigger questions - questions like "what is real about life?" "is there one consistent reality, or do each of us live totally independent yet interconnected realities?" "Are you the same as me?" And through interview questions and camera work and editing, "True Life" seeks to guide us into those answers.

This isn't entirely unlike what Jesus says that the Holy Spirit does for us. As He prepares His disciples for His departure through death on the Cross, He tells them that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth. That the Holy Spirit will show them reality.

Of course to us, when we think of the Holy Spirit, reality may be one of the last things that we think of. The Holy Spirit seems to us to be the most supernatural, the most "unreal" of the persons of the Trinity. Even the effects that we seem to look for from Him seem to be outside of the norm - speaking in tongues, great indoor winds, fire above our heads. It all seems like something that if we were watching this on TV, those things would have to be supplied by CGI, not simply captured with a camera.


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