Main Street U.S.A.: Hyperreality and Faith

Twenty-five years ago, Umberto Eco described a concept called “Hyperreality.” Basically, hyperreality is the idea that a simulation is—or at least can be—more “real” than the reality itself. {Thanks to Kevin Yee for initially introducing this concept to me via the MiceAge.com site back in 2005. I’ll be sharing more insights gleaned from his fantastic articles in future posts.}

There is an episode of Gilmore Girls (don’t judge me  🙂  ) where Rory and Paris get an apartment. At one point, Rory hears a loud bang and thinks it’s gunfire. Paris tells her, “No. That was just a car backfiring. The real gunfire actually sounds fake.” Rory had gotten so used to hearing fake gunfire on TV that the sound of it was more real to her than the sound of actual gunfire. The fake sound had become a hyperreal sound.

Main Street U.S.A. is a classic example. This particular Main Street never existed. True, it’s based on Walt’s hometown of Marceline, MO. But it’s not a strict re-creation of that town’s main street. A lot of the look and feel of Disneyland’s Main Street is also based on Fort Collins, CO. It’s really the Main Street that never was. Yet, when many people think of “small town America main street”, they think of Disneyland’s Main Street. Often to the point where they are disappointed if they ever do see one.

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

And why not? It has almost everything we would expect Main Street to have. It has a bakery, a town hall, a bank, a fire station, a penny arcade, a barbershop, clothing shops, a photo supply company, even a cinema. It has happy, gracious people working on it, giving it something of that “small town charm”. It has various modes of transportation—an omnibus, a horse drawn streetcar, a horseless carriage, even a fire engine. All moving smoothly and efficiently down the center of the street, reinforcing the vision that all is as it should be in this quaint, rustic place.

Most of us have never seen a turn-of-the-twentieth-century American small town. But we have seen Main Street U.S.A. It becomes our hyperreal version of the actual reality. And so what we expect to be true carries more weight than what the so-called real world shows us.

In some ways, this concept is a good description of what biblical faith means. The difference is that instead of a false reality being more real than actual reality, faith tells us that what we believe by faith to be true is more real, has more substance, than what we can see, hear, and feel.

In Genesis 22 tells of the time God tested Abraham. He was told to take his son, Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering to God. Abraham did as he was told. Of course, God stopped him at the last minute, saying, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.”

When Abraham stepped out on faith, he did so because he had a reality that he knew was more real than what he could see around him. He knew that God was faithful, no matter what it seemed like at the moment. That’s why he says things like, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” to one of the servants. Notice he doesn’t say, I will come back,” he says “we will”.  When Isaac asks, “… but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” All Abraham knew was that God had promised that he would have many descendants, these descendants would come through his son Isaac, and that God is faithful to keep his word. So Abraham acted in faith.

Hebrews 11, called the Faith Chapter, is full of stories like that. And that chapter starts by saying, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is being sure of that reality that is greater the reality we see around us.

Right here, on Main Street U.S.A., we get a reminder that what we see around us is not all there is, that there is much more that can be grasped only through faith.



Randy CraneRandy Crane is passionate about helping Christians, especially those with a Disney affinity, to discover and connect to their GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE AND VALUE, to build their lives to achieve TRUE SUCCESS AND MEANING, and to POSITIVELY IMPACT their world. For more than two decades, Randy has been leading individuals and teams into a greater joy and child-like appreciation of the world around them, equipping them to reach beyond what they have previously experienced and build a God-given identity and purpose. Ready to experience that for yourself? Tell us where to send SIX free videos all created to help answer the 3 questions you need to experience PEACE, FREEDOM, and PURPOSE!

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