Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Walking Dead - Did God survive the Zombie Apocalypse?


Well, I said that I was going to post every week, and here I am! This week, since I didn't go see a new movie, I thought I'd talk about one of the two television series that I've set my DVD to record so that I don't miss an episode. I've really become a big fan of AMC's "The Walking Dead." The Walking Dead is now filming its third season which is due to begin in October and has been building the hype for that season with a marathon weekend last week, a special airing of the pilot episode in black and white, and an hour-long talk show special called "Talking Dead." The series comes from the mind of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard and began its life as a black and white comic book series from Image Comics. It is the story of a group of people who have survived the zombie apocalypse and how they band together and are changed by the stress of just trying to survive in a world of monsters trying to eat them. Two years ago, in a leap of faith, AMC television began the show with a six episode first season. It was so well received that fans have demanded more and AMC has delivered. While the show has roughly followed the storyline of the comic book (and yes, I have been reading the comic as well), the producers have taken artistic license to change and tweak things for television production value. A WARNING - this show and the related comic book is not for children! I cannot stress this enough. There is an abundance of language that our kids do not need to hear and an over abundance of violence that they do not need to see! I do not recommend this show for anyone under the age of 17 and even then I would suggest that it be viewed with a parent or guardian. This show has been known to cause nightmares in adults so be forewarned.

Now you might be thinking, "Pastor, if this show is so violent and foul, why would you blog about it?" Good question - but if you can take this show for its artistic value and its excellent storytelling, The Walking Dead is amazing. The writers truly understand human nature and how people not only act, but react and are changed by stressful situations of a long period of time. While a passing glance at the show will make one think that the title refers to the zombies, it is actually a commentary on how the survivors become emotionally desensitized by the severity of their situation. In fact, in the comic book storyline the main character, Rick finally says as much to the rest of the survivors. "Don't you get it? We're the walking dead!"

Now I like to try to find a spiritual connection in any pop culture phenomenon and there are certainly some in The Walking Dead. There are copious overt references to God, faith and the church throughout the series. Two prominent examples come to mind: Hershel is a major character, a farmer and a main of faith. He often speaks about his faith and how it informs him about how to live. Also, early in season Rick sits down in an abandoned church and has a conversation with God asking for a sign that he's leading the group the right way. Shortly thereafter he encounters a deer in the woods and has a peaceful moment. Of course, the fallen nature of humanity intrudes on this sign when an unknown hunter shoots the deer and Rick's son Carl with one through and through shot, shattering the moment.

But there's a deeper bit of Christian understanding here and it actually relates to all zombie movies. In chapter 16 of the book of Job, Job speaks about how God has treated him by allowing the devil to afflict his life. He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me; my adversary sharpens his eyes against me. (Job 16:9) The word used here for "sharpens" has a connotation that expresses the meaning "to look intently" as an animal looks for prey. So, the verse describes God’s relentless pursuit of Job. Francis Thomas expressed this idea in his famous poem entitled "The Hound of Heaven." God pursues us intently, seeking a relationship with us out of his love and mercy for us. In much the same way, zombies always seem to be portrayed in this relentless pursuit. Now I know that this sounds a little contrived, but I'm going to bet that after reading this you'll never look at a zombie movie in the same way again. God is the hound of heaven. God pursues you and wants all of you.

Grace and Peace - see you next week!

No comments: