Recently I have been catching up on some nostalgic classics that had some vague bearing on my childhood memory. The most recent of these is The Truman Show, a 1998 movie about a man, Truman, who slowly discovers and escapes a TV show in which he is the unwitting star. Unsurprisingly, like all good stories, the movie takes up some Christian themes, most notably the human need for truth. “The truth will set you free,” says our Lord, and so the Christian journey to freedom from sin and death is only found in the truth, which is literally how God sees things. God’s sight is truth, and only until one sees as God sees, can freedom occur. It is no wonder, then, why so many of Jesus’ miracles concern healing the blind; his salvific mission in many ways is to help humanity see correctly.
The two forces at play in the movie are the star Truman and the director Christof, who created Truman’s TV world. Throughout the movie, Christof sees himself as Truman’s savior and champion, and thus I find it no accident that his name derives from Christ. Christof sees his world for Truman as a world with the “same lies” as the real world, but unlike the real world, his world has “nothing to fear.” Here we can see the subtle and classic Satanic move, the controlling of fear. God’s world frequently appears to us as scary because it is so raw and intimate, vulnerable and delicate; and yet so often God demands of us to “be not afraid.” Satan’s solution to the fearful suffering world is fundamentally controlling and hiding; fear leads us to protect, grasp, medicate. Fear is his bidding because it makes us retreat into perfectly safe worlds, but they are boring worlds that are numb and without love. These are the homes of sinners, and we, myself included, are so familiar with what that is like, for we all sin, hide, and retreat into the comfortable.
God’s solution to suffering is fundamentally opposite of Satan’s approach. Where Satan would have us hide from suffering, God would have us accept suffering. For a safe world is one without love. This is the world Truman desires. He is discontent with the safe world, for he would rather have the dangerous and true world where he at least knows authentic love. Truman finds himself in the middle of the age-old battle, like all of us. We have a choice, like Truman. On the one hand, we could embrace the fake world of hiding from evils, problems, sufferings, sins, addictions, and any number of other bad things; but then we would find ourselves in a fake world without love. Or, on the other hand, we could sail into the dangerous world of authentic interaction, honesty, love, empathy, suffering, service, and truth, for the truth will set us free.