Tiff and I are hooked on this show, while agreeing that it is, in many ways, awful. Good science fiction usually involves believable people in unbelievable circumstances. Underneath the dome, everything is unbelievable. The characters are cartoonish. The acting is almost universally over-the-top.
Yet I can’t stop watching. Let’s chalk it up as a guilty pleasure, shall we?
If you haven’t watched it, there’s this town in Maine (this IS based on a Stephen King story, after all) called Chester’s Mill. One day, out of the blue, a mysterious and impervious dome appeared around the town, cutting it off from the rest of the world. No one (including the viewer) knows exactly what it is, where it came from, or why it’s there. Lord of the Flies-style chaos ensues. The food supply runs short. The dome seems to have its own climate system inside. Some characters scramble to find out more about the dome in hopes of removing it and restoring order. Others attempt, wild west-style, to maintain some kind of order inside the domed community. Others adopt an every-individual-for-him/herself survival mode.
Okay, I like the acting from these two, and their onscreen chemistry makes their relationship almost believable, despite being TOTALLY unrealistic!
But I’m not here to review the show, or to convince you that you should or shouldn’t watch it. I’m here to reflect on it theologically.
At church, I’ve begun a sermon series called “The Art of Prayer.” The aim of the series is to urge the congregation to reflect deeply on their own prayer lives. To consider who God is when we pray, to consider who we are when we pray, and how the two stand in relation to one another. To approach new (to them) ways of praying. To ponder how God really works in the world so that we have great and realistic expectations.
To open ourselves to God’s transforming power.
So, now that I’ve covered that, let’s go back under the Dome.
On the TV series, there is a mini-dome with a mysterious egg inside it, originally located at the nucleus of the big dome. And there are four teenage kids who have some sort of mystical connection to the dome. They have the mini-dome tucked away in a barn, and have begun kneeling beside it, touching it, waiting for communication from it. They circle around the dome, eyes closed, hands touching the surface of the mini-dome, waiting to understand what the dome wants.
The kids have their own agenda, too – they understandably want the dome to come down so that Chester’s Mill can regain contact with the rest of the world. But they are also convinced that the Dome will tell them what it wants, and tell them what to do. They are hopeful that if they communicate and cooperate with the Dome, their problems can be solved.
In prayer, we often have our own agendas as well. We want God to improve our circumstances. Make someone love me like I love them. Cure someone’s illness. Restore someone’s broken relationship. Make my kids make better decisions. Keep my loved ones safe. Help me take back the mistakes I’ve made. Oh yeah, we can have some agendas.
But the part of prayer that the Dome kids have right is the listening part. Are we intentional about going into prayer in order to find out what God wants? Are we listening for what God wants us to do? Or are we so wrapped up in telling God what we want that we forget to ask God what God wants?
Are we guilty of asking God what God wants, then shutting down because we’re afraid we won’t like God’s answer?
We’ll always have an agenda. We’re human, and having our own selfish agenda is part of the human condition. But my prayer for the church, for you, and for me is that we will have enough sense to put aside our own agendas long enough to truly listen for what God wants. That we would kneel before the altar, eyes closed, listening intently for God to communicate God’s will to us, opened to God’s transformative power, vowing to cooperate with God’s actions and desires in our broken world.