Connecting with Culture
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The BBC’s psychological reality show The Traitors took audiences by storm over Christmas.
It encouraged more young people to sign up to BBC iPlayer than any programme aside from the World Cup, prompting the service to add the US version of the show last week.
The concept is this: 22 strangers, including a magician, a police officer, and a BMX athlete, arrive at a Scottish castle hoping to win a share of £120,000. Among them are three ‘traitors’, who try to avoid detection while choosing one of the group (‘the faithful’) to murder every night. The faithful try to vote out the traitors before the game’s end to prevent them stealing the full prize money.
It’s riveting television and a fascinating study of group dynamics. Contestants form and betray alliances, proposing theories based on one another’s jobs, body language, and throwaway comments. Players are genuinely devastated to be suspected. They long to be taken at face value and feel part of the core community – ‘I’ve not come here to pretend to be anybody. I’ve come here… to be who I am, to fit in, to be accepted’, says one.
Another, who narrowly missed out on winning, concludes that the prize pales in comparison to the friendships formed: ‘The money’s gone. It doesn’t matter. I love you guys.’
The Traitors highlights the profound yearning within us all to belong. Belonging to God is our deepest need, and yet God himself calls our life without companionship and community ‘not good’ (Genesis 2:18). And to belong to God is to belong to others too, forming one body in Jesus, where every member is a valuable part of the whole.
All people were created for community, and Christians are called to extend the invitation to belong to others – both in our churches and beyond them as we go out into our everyday contexts.
Whilst it’s unlikely your frontline involves a Highland castle, each of us can meaningfully impact the group dynamics of the places in which we find ourselves. It might be breaking out of a clique at the school gate, welcoming the newcomer to the office, or gently redirecting a conversation away from gossip. It might also mean exposing untruth and treachery, which are far from a game when we really come up against them, as those called to be faithful to God’s way and values.
Where might you bring the invitation to belong this week?
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service and attends Christ Church Balham.