When you lose a loved one it feels like you are slung into an empty pit. A pit of darkness and numbness, with high walls and thin air. It is horrible and you would do anything to have them back. In the episode “Be right back” from Black Mirror it explores the idea of bringing back a loved one. Not like in some strange zombie way. At first its in a way that would ease pain and then it becomes strange.
Martha loses her husband which is devastating and as a method of coping her friend signs her up to the latest technology where a computer program can glean information about your loved one so that you can talk to them. They gather that information from facebook, twitter and e-mails. The more activity online the better. Martha can then start to chat with her dead husband (Ash) through this program. This program simulates Ash in a convincing way and Martha spends hours talking to him, spends hours on the internet and then on the phone as the program updates and it can sound exactly like Ash. It sounds strangely comforting. Imagine being able to talk to your loved one again? Being able to hear their voice one last time. Being able to say I love you. It’s a very human response.
But there is a next step. Black Mirror takes us further. What if you could actually see your loved one? Where they physically returned to you as a very realistic robot (think less terminator and more AI or the Bionic Man). They would look like your loved one, same hair, eyes and skin colour. They would sound like your loved one. At any glance you would think it was them. It seems like a truly remarkable resurrection.
But a few hitches were encountered. Ash wasn’t really Ash. Ash was a computer program pretending to be Ash. Acting very much like him, but not really him. She hates how empty he is and she yearns for the real Ash. She cries:
““No, but you’re not you, are you? You’re just a few ripples of you. There’s no history to you. You’re just a performance of stuff that he performed without thinking and it’s not enough.”
I think Charlie Brooker is confronting our addiction to social media and our tendency to become so absorbed in it that it shows a few ripples of you, but it isn’t actually you. When thinking about this show my thought turned to fullness of life and real resurrection. Martha showed a great yearning – a yearning for Ash when he was alive and buried in his phone on facebook and then a yearning for Ash when he died and she was faced with a hollow resurrection.
I mentioned in my previous post on fullness of life in the Reality of Escapism. A virtual world that numbs us. In this episode Be Right Back, there is a desire for fullness of resurrection. We want our loved ones back. We want them back not in shell or on a facebook page. We want the fully flesh and fully human loved one back.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t come back zombie like or ghost like. He came back physically, with wholeness, eating and walking. He came back as a demonstration of the new creation. Resurrection is no empty shell. You will be fully alive, eating, drinking and wonderfully real as you can get with no sin or shame attached. Resurrection is beautiful. Martha was right to yearn for it. It’s a desire in us. We have eternity set in our hearts.
It’s good to yearn for life after death. But real resurrection and life can’t come through an android, iphone or facebook. Thats not where to live or be raised to life from. Resurrection and life come only through the resurrection of Jesus. I’d like to say that this is an easy thing. But to get to resurrection there must be death. To get to the fullness of life there can be pain and suffering. The sting of death has been defeated – its claws and chains are gone. But there is still a wave of hurt and pain that comes over us when death knocks on the door. When that happens whats should we do? When looking for comfort where should we go? Not to social networking, but to Jesus. Come to Jesus who has been raised to life. He is the fullness of Resurrection and you will find all comfort in him. There is some solace in social networking, friendships and bonds that can help. But first come to Jesus – seek life in Him.