The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead? Seriously? What does a horror show have to do with Christianity?”

Where isn’t God? That’s my answer.

Where

isn’t

God?

“If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

Psalm 139:8b

ALL stories reflect the true story of Jesus Christ. Think of any story. There’s always an unlikely hero, or a champion whose victory is effective for many, or a sacrifice for the good of others, or a father returning for his children. The Gospel of Christ is in all stories. Even horror stories. Whether or not these movies should be watched or avoided is not a matter of whether or not Christ is there. He is. Choosing to avoid horror movies can be a good choice. Skip because they’re gross. Skip them because they inspire you to violence. Skip them because they give you nightmares. Skip them because your spouse hates them. Don’t skip them because they make you feel distant from God. If God is left behind when you press play on a horror movie, it’s not the movie that’s kicking him out of the room. It’s you.

I have learned more about leadership, sacrifice, family, morality, justice, sanity, and work from The Walking Dead than I have from any other story. Ever.

Does that mean I’ve placed too much importance on a TV show? Maybe. Though I didn’t say that I’ve learned more about those things from the show than from any other source, just from any other story. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention. Maybe I’m a simpleton and I needed the obvious life-or-death scenario to pound some of these concepts into my head. I think the obvious moralizing in Star Trek or Twilight Zone, both shows that mean a great deal to me, is ineffective. The heroes of The Walking Dead are nearly Hitchcockian. They are normal people thrown into something far bigger than any of them ever imagined. The complexity of backgrounds rings truer here than it ever did on any Star Trek show. The questions of morality and ethics are nearly Biblical here. We take ethics for granted because we live in a centuries-old world where civility has reigned. The world that first hosted the Bible and the world that first heard the words of Plato were both in need of a moral code. The raw survivalist life of the zombie apocalypse puts the Bible into a stark reality for me that few other narratives can really do.

So yeah. I’m covering Walking Dead on a Christian blog.

Back from the brink

Have you gone back and re-watched any episodes? Whew! It is strange how peaceful these early days of the zombie apocalypse were. When I first watched this show, I thought I’d never seen a bleaker telling of the zombie invasion story. Decades of zombie flicks and post-apocalyptic odyssey stories culminated in The Walking Dead. This is how it would really go down, I thought. Waiting for the fourth season to air, I’m now reviewing these early episodes and finding them unsettlingly … pleasant.

Without giving too much of seasons 3 and 4 away, I know exactly why the first season, with all its flesh-eating monsters, presents a better world than the world to come in later seasons. The villains of season one are just zombies. The challenge is to escape the zombies. Civility still determines the decision-making of the survivors.

If you start watching this show fresh, it will be scary. But this first episode is not that scary to someone who has seen where the story goes. That’s because the power of the show, and the comic on which it’s based, is to envelope you in the world. I read the comics and watched the TV show in the same rhythm. I watched a bunch, then paused for nearly two years, and then watched a bunch more. With the comics, I read forty or so issues. Then I paused for a few months, then read the next forty or so. At the end of the first sessions, both watching and reading, I was convinced of the normalcy of the moral choices the survivors felt forced to make. And, when I returned after the long hiatuses, both watching and reading, I was horrified by the moral choices I had earlier accepted.

Have you ever moved and picked up some of the dialect of your new setting? Then returned home to have everybody there tell you that you sound different? You don’t notice the gradual change. That’s what Kirkman and his TV friends so effectively transmitted. The human race, at least this pocket of it, is changing. If you’re following along, you might not notice it. But if you take a step back, you can see just how tragically their values have eroded.

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