September 5, 2023 What “The Good Place” Discussion Group Meant to One Church Member

Dumbarton’s summer 2023 sermon series, “How to be Perfect,” was based on themes from the TV show “The Good Place” and the moral philosophy that the show’s characters wrestle with in the afterlife. A companion Thursday night online discussion group invited participants to watch clips from the show and engage in conversation with each other about what it means to be a person who strives to live a moral life. 

Long-time Dumbartonian Debbie Woodcock shared what the sermon series and online discussions meant to her: 

Our pastor recently led an online discussion group based on the TV series from several years ago:  The Good Place.  It follows a group of characters who have died and find out they have ended up in the Good Place, or so they think. The episodes present theological questions in the form of challenging them to examine decisions made (past and present) and how they came to those decisions.  I found the series on Netflix and ended up binging all 4 seasons in several days (yes, I am retired) and was once again awakened as to how my presence in this community has made me, even at this late stage of life, continue to examine my faith, beliefs, moral compass and actions.  That is why I have stayed here for 52 years.

I “went” to church many Sundays growing up in Ohio.  Not so much in college, and not until Easter of my first year living in D.C.  I went to church and sang, prayed, listened, and left it at that. When I came to Dumbarton, something changed. This community sparked in me a faith journey and awakened in me a quest to explore what faith really means in terms of how I live it out in my daily life. What do I believe?  What do I disagree with?  Am I allowed to disagree? To simply be a decent person was no longer enough…I was challenged by Dumbarton to ACT.

I have to admit that I would have been a much different person without this church.  Just showing up each week is not enough. Being part of this community forced me to confront issues and live out my faith in ways I might never have realized meant so much to me. I think about the many times this community’s witness has led me to step up and act, be a voice for those who had no voice. Right a wrong…lend a hand and hope that some of these good deeds will lead me to the Good Place, if not, then at least the Medium Place, if that exists.