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HER (2013) starring Joaquin Phoenix… It’s not a movie I would recommend to pretty much anyone. The movie follows Theodore who purchases a new self-aware and learning AI-driven operating system for his computer and phone that is supposed to meet all of his needs, and the AI is female and designed with a very human-like voice. She calls herself Samantha.

Theodore is lonely and a bit reclusive, so Samantha becomes a very vocal and social part of his life. From their interaction, a kind of friendship sparks between the two… and leads to–you guessed it–romantic notions, further progressing to strong romantic emotions. The movie confirmed for me how easily deceived those hearts looking for something to fill them can be.

Samantha, though considered to be sentient, wasn’t another human being with whom Theodore could share authentic human emotions. The love that he perceived to be receiving from her wasn’t real or tangible, which was actually proven in another scene where Samantha had to use a human woman with a small camera attached to her forehead in order for Theodore to experience her touch–something she could not produce on her own. Theodore recognized it for what it was and rejected the experience, knowing it was a counterfeit.


A counterfeit and an authentic cannot reproduce another authentic together. No matter how hard the imitator strives and works, it cannot change itself into the thing it is imitating. (That can be applied in so many different ways.) It can only present you with the illusion that it is the real thing. And what it is able to give you will never be the same as what you would receive from the real thing. It will always lack one or more qualities that hinder it from being an authentic version.


Jesus is known as The Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). That is an example of authenticity. He is the Lion. In 1 Peter 5:8 the enemy is described as prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone he can devour. The enemy of Jesus is not a lion himself, but pretending to be a lion. He cannot be authentic. He can only be a counterfeit, a simulacrum, a dupe, a mockery. His persuasion skills may be strong, as we saw in Genesis and millions of other instances since, but he can only imitate the original in pursuit of reaching his goal: bringing death to those whom Jesus brought life.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a simulacrum is defined as: 1. an image, representation; 2. An insubstantial form or semblance of something, a trace. Both simulacrum and simulate come from the same Latin verb, simulare, which means “to copy, represent, or feign.” We call that fake.


In wanting to learn more about simulacra, I found myself reading the online lecture notes from the Broadcasting and Simulacra course lesson on "Three Orders of Simulacra" by Jean Baudrillard at the National University of Singapore. Baudrillard’s thesis written in the 1960s dealt with the day’s technology, human interaction, and how the connotations produce the hyperreal. Even during his time, according to him, the world was “saturated” with many different types of media and technology, and their presence and “manifestations” were/are a reflection of the current human condition.

If the manifestation of media and technology is a direct reflection of the current human condition, what does that say about our state of being today? Moreso, how does it represent us individually? Are we healthy? Are we constantly searching for an escape from our life? Are we using technology and media in a balanced way as to benefit and not to consume us?

The unnamed lecture note taker theorized the thesis like this: “The human race is anxious about what it cannot control. It tends to project these anxieties onto its environment, which then in the form of ‘the world’ represents these anxieties in various ways... But lately (since about the sixteenth century in Europe) the projections of the human race have taken on an increasingly technological appearance. Technology was always, of course, the means at Man’s disposal in his attempts to gain better control of his world. The problem, though, with technology is that it can always go wrong in sometimes catastrophic ways, so we witness no actual reduction of anxiety but rather the old anxieties are shifted onto new objects. The main vehicle for the projections of the human race is what Baudrillard calls the Simulacrum… From the sixteenth century it meant: ‘A material image, made as a representation of some deity, person, or thing.’  In the sixteenth century the term was similar in use to words like effigy or icon.”

In Scripture, there is a comparable word that we may be more familiar with that comes to mind when I read the above meaning: idol. What else can an idol be considered as? A not-God god. A counterfeit. An image without any original substance. A representation that appears to have power and authority and authenticity but cannot deliver or operate in any of it.


As humans, we long to be fulfilled. Filled full. When hungry, the body desires food to fill it. When thirsty, the body desires liquid to fill it. When confused, the mind desires clarity to fill it. When lonely, the heart desires love to fill it. When sad, the soul desires happiness/joy to fill it. When sick, the body desires health to fill it. And so on and so on. When we know the truth, when we’ve experienced authenticity, the filling of ourselves with a counterfeit never produces lasting or life-giving results. Desperation for relief from the feeling of lack can easily open the door for deception or a false sense of fulfillment through the means of a simulacrum. The relief is fleeting and requires continuous filling to maintain the short-lived relief. Continuous returning to idleness in order to be filled leads to the source becoming an idol. Too many words are associated with idle that point to vanity, unavailing, insignificance, futility, aimlessness, meaninglessness, and avoidance. I don’t know about you, but when I consider any of those words and their meanings, absolutely none of them make me think of Jesus. So, who would turn to Jesus to experience those things? I can’t imagine anyone would raise their hand for that. The type of pleasure and ease that comes with being near Jesus always has purpose and significance. It’s His nature. The type of fulfillment that He provides is designed for the long-term. And His fulfillment is one that produces new life as well.

As one who has found herself to be easily distracted and looking for relief from the state of this world, much like Theodore’s story end in HER, I’ve experienced the true form of love, comfort, peace, etc. in the presence of Jesus and in the outpouring of His heart for me; so when a counterfeit presents itself as the answer for my need, I recognize that I will not be fulfilled by it. No matter how hard social media, music, movies, books, my imagination, other people, programs, food, or [insert your vice] tries to offer the illusion that it’s the real source of reprieve and comfort, it will never produce the eternal, life-giving results like Jesus does.

So, I ask you this today: Are you running to the real thing? Or are you settling for a simulacrum? Be honest with yourself, then take your next steps accordingly.

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