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The Good Place

Presented at Dayspring Church 10/23

Let’s begin this service with a confession, shall we?  Cary and I have a new guilty pleasure—we like a new television comedy show entitled The Good Place.  Okay, another confession, I really like the show—Cary not as much—but she loves me and watches it with me because I like it so much! So far, there has only been seven episodes and I would recommend them all.  (The fact that I like it is probably a sure sign that the show will be cancelled at the end of the season!)

If you haven’t seen the show, the story line goes something like this.  A brand new city has been built in heaven by Michael, a quirky architect, to be the home for a small group of people who were the best of the best during their earthly lives.  Of all of earth’s people, these were the ones to make it to “The Good Place.”  Every detail has been meticulously managed by the Michael to make the new city perfect.  There are frozen yogurt shops with thousands of flavors.  There are perfect buildings and landscaping and Each person is paired with a perfect soul mate—not the ones they were married to on earth but one selected for them by a heavenly wisdom.  Their homes have been specially created and furnished for them by Michael.  It’s a perfect place.

But there’s a problem.  By some cosmic mistake, two total reprobates are in the Good Place. Eleanor Shellstrop, a deceased saleswoman from Arizona has been mistaken for a lawyer who fought for the homeless and against the death penalty and Jason Mendoza, a small-time drug dealer from Florida, has been mistaken for a silent Buddhist monk from Taiwan.  To make matters worse, Eleanor has been paired as the soulmate of Chidi, a moral philosophy professor who is no little distressed to learn that that Eleanor is not only NOT his soulmate—she doesn’t even have the first idea of how to behave ethically!  Here he is in heaven facing the greatest moral dilemma of all. Yet, rather than turn her away he shows compassion and agrees that if she will secretly attend his classes on moral and ethical philosophy and try to be a better person he will keep her secret.

The show is quite funny as one catastrophe after another ruins the bliss of the Good Place all because there is a secret evil.  Eleanor and Jason do their best to keep their secret so they don’t go to The Bad Place while Michael, wrings his hands trying his best to figure out why these terrible things are happening in The Good Place. As we watch the show there is a sense that there are other secrets hidden here.  And even though this is a perfect place, we get the distinct feeling that not everything is as perfect as it seems.

It doesn’t take much of a genius to make the connections from this funny show created by Mike Shur to our lives.  Don’t we all want to live in the Good Place?  (And we’re not necessarily speaking about heaven here.)  Don’t we long for that good life with all our needs supplied—down to the fine details complete with our soulmate?  Yet even though we live on a beautiful planet, in a wonderful country, and having so many blessings—there is trouble in our paradise.  And for many of us, that Paradise we are living in may not be as firm as we make it out to be.  So many of us are hiding out—like Eleanor and Jason, hoping that the truth of who we are isn’t discovered.  We wear the imposter’s mask of righteousness, quaking, lest we be discovered for who and what we are while it appears that everyone else has it all together in this apparent perfect setting.

But take hope! The good place is more than a story on NBC.  The good place is real—in this life and in the next.