Why Religion Should Be Like Netflix

For those of us who were tortured — I mean raised — by religious dogma, it’s heartening to see leaders like Pope Francis publicly advocating for a more accepting, open church. I’m pleased that the Vatican is making an effort to reverse centuries of exclusionary practices, but they still have a long way to go to be truly user-friendly. Guys, that whole celibacy thing is kind of a huge buzzkill for like, everyone.

It’s not just Catholics, either. Every religion has a serious customer service deficit. It’s all rules, regulation, and fine print without any tangible perks. Eternal salvation sounds nice in theory, but I have to wait at least another 40 years before I can cash out. In the meantime, I have to contend with a neverending series of disappointments thanks to the shoddy work being done in Heaven. If there was a Yelp account for “Human Existence,” I’m pretty sure the top-rated comment would be something like this:

“I had the unfortunate experience of being born on the planet Earth recently. Without my consent, my mother and father had a quickie in the parking lot of a Thai restaurant (that didn’t have valet, BTW) and conceived me. I was shocked to find that in my 29 years on Earth, the service was routinely poor. I was ignored by the staff, routinely told to fend for myself, received no complimentary bread basket, and couldn’t even find a bathroom. When I asked to speak to the manager, whose named I was told is “God,” I was informed that he doesn’t speak to anyone, but I was told to fill out a complaint card that he may or may not actually read. The other customers were equally miserable, and shared my frustration about how expensive everything was. Side note, one guy tried to steal my shoes at gunpoint. I would not recommend Earth due to its shameful service and exorbitant prices. That said, the food was delightful. I highly recommend the waffle fries.”

Religions could stand to learn a thing or two about customer satisfaction, and there’s no better place to pick up some tips than from the ultimate 21st century convenience, Netflix. If God could offer thousands of hours of entertainment on demand, going to church would be a lot more popular. The best he/she/it can come up with is the Grand Canyon, which is not cutting it in an era where I have Angry Birds on my iPhone.

I don’t mean to say that I want my life to be like that stupid Adam Sandler movie, Click. Having to carry a remote control around in my pocket all the time would create a serious pants bulge that I couldn’t even begin to explain to my co-workers. No, I just kind of want God to start a high-level data mining operation that will allow him/her/it to be more effective in giving me a satisfactory user experience.

Netflix knows me better than I even know myself. I can’t count the number of times where I muttered to myself, “yes, I DO want to watch Caddyshack II right now.” Only the Netflix algorithm can see through my pretentions and cultural aspirations to get to the heart of who I really am deep down. Why can’t the Lord do that too? God does a great job of making traffic magically appear on Sunset Blvd. at 8 AM and convincing birds to shit on my patio furniture, but he/she/it can’t drop a Stuffed Crust Pizza on my doorstep.

All it comes down to is asking questions. Netflix is constantly asking me questions. “How would you rate Basic Instinct?” Five stars, of course. “You recently watched Sharon Stone in Sliver. Are you interested in watching Catwoman?” Nope. “Ever been to prison? If so, you might like The Shawshank Redemption.” Seen it, bro.

God can’t even be bothered to do that, but what if he/she/it did? “You just masturbated. Ever thought about a girlfriend?” Yes, definitely. “You rated your job 1 star. Would you like a million dollars?” And how! “Your father didn’t show you enough affection growing up. Interested in a hug?” Hmmm, probably too little, too late, but thanks for asking.

Taking even a slight interest in my likes, dislikes, concerns, and complaints would go a long way toward repairing the damage done to the Lord’s personal brand. As it stands now, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings knows more about my personal proclivities than the Almighty. But, if God is actually watching me, and taking note of the ups and downs of my life, then his/her/its apathy is even more disappointing. Not giving a shit about me is worse than actively trying to screw up my life. I just want to matter to someone, even if they aren’t all-powerful deities.

There’s one saving grace in this scenario though. At least I can go to bed tonight knowing that my personal information, preferences, and need to have Caddyshack II available to me at all times are making a bunch of old men very wealthy. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Marit and Toomas

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