Wednesday, June 20, 2012

God and the (Zombie) Apocalypse

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityAnother guest post, this time from my former college roommate Ian McLoud on The Walking Dead.  There are a few season two spoilers in this post, so be warned if you plan on catching up and care about that sort of thing.

by Ian McLoud

It’s a common Christian stereotype that we love to bemoan the failure of Hollywood to truly understand “the Christian life”.  We're typically represented as either self-righteous hypocrites or crazy, Bible-thumping rednecks (or a cringe-worthy combination of the two).  As Christians, we would love to say that we're not like that; that these portrayals are caricatures and do not exemplify what real Christians are like. Some of us would like to look back with fondness on the late 90’s and early 2000's and find the glory days of Christian television shows like 7th Heaven, Touched by an Angel, and Promised Land.  Of course we’d also like to forget that these cookie-cutter love fests are simply positive caricatures and seldom seem like anything that we might experience in real life.  And these are just exceptions to the rule; television at large ignores God unless a major catastrophe happens and then, once all is well, it's back to fundamentalist hyperbole if not outright disappearance.

So it comes as a quite refreshing surprise when a TV show does get something right regarding the Christian experience, even if it's just one aspect and even if that one aspect is not particularly flattering. Beware spoilers.

I just started watching season 2 of The Walking Dead.  After the first six episodes, I’ve been struck by the addition of a few characters belief in God.  However, this belief has only manifested itself in situations where something has gone wrong.  Now by “go wrong” I mean a daughter has gone missing or a son has been shot and may possibly die.  Somehow, the whole dead walking thing and the potential end of the human race don't warrant a talk with the Big Guy, but that’s neither here nor there.  

In watching this character development I was struck by how accurate a picture this has actually captured of the Christian life. For the most part we only go to God when things are tough and when those things impact us in a way that is different from the norm.  At this point in the show the dead walking is a point of fact, but still children should not be lost nor should they be dying and in the face of these tragedies God needs to come in and help.  These characters are surrounded on all sides by situations that would send most anyone to their knees, yet it's only when the attacks get personal and extra messy that they realize prayer might be beneficial.  Say what you want about the television industry, but they get a few things right every now and then. We'd just prefer they stick to a wholesome Camden family dinner instead of shining a light on our faults and asking us to try fixing them.

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