December 7, 2013

The Walking Dead and The Dead Inside

At first the premise for the Walking Dead repulsed me. The premise seemed old, worn-out and playing to people's depravity and lust of violence. It at first seemed like glorified violence, dead people and the worst of humanity. But I got sucked in and began to see the show in a new, less legalistic light. 

In a way I was right...and in a way I was seriously wrong. In the AMC television show The Walking Dead I see two things that stand out at me in a striking manner (pardon the pun).

In the show it is not glorified violence so much as it is un-glorified violence. It is a violence that is perpetrated many times in the need of survival and dying in another’s stead to save another person’s life (John 15:13). In some cases they are sacrificial deaths. Of course many of the deaths are not "necessary" but the violence points us to some severely unsettling truths about ourselves, the viewers. It points to a latent indwelling evil that strikes a cord in us all.

There is of course the issue about the show's viewers. There will possibly be some that will not see past the violence to the underlying principles and will see the violence and nothing more. The one thing that troubles me about the show and still does to some extent is the possible effect it might have on weak minds prone to violence. In this show there is an overt violence that fills the screen. People can say the zombies are already dead or they are essentially monsters but this skirts the issue: They are humanoid / hominid in form. There is a potential here for devaluation of human sanctity by the blatant violence for those that cannot see deeper than the shell of skin on the zombie (if they have skin).

At times I believe graphic violence and malevolence dulls the edges of empathy, sympathy and compassion for a being that is strangely akin to a human being…dead or not. There are terms for people that do not have empathy for others, cannot feel for others or are self-consumed: Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopathsThat being said, the only thing that separates these actors from people that could potentially be desensitized by this constant violence is a conscience. It is strange but I see the potential from this show for people in real life to act out in similar ways as the actors on the show following on motives or lack of them…just like the zombies. In this way I could see unstable or sinful people who have had the conscience seared or "deadened" (Romans 1) watching the constant violence becoming the exact type of people that we wince at watching week to week in the show. The root cause of both being a lack of conscience and deeper down...unrepentant sin.

We must never ever forget that humans are valued by God. God gives humanity its value not men. We must also realize that everything in God’s creation was instilled with value and it is only through the tainting of the Fall and the curse that things are capable of sinking to the level we see on The Walking Dead. It is therefore only God that separates us from the good and the bad of this show both in the show itself and in real life. The parallels between the show and our lives are…well…frightening.

Which leads me to my next point about the show and is even more morbidly ironic than the first point.

The second idea I kind of picked up from and the authors point that all of humanity could possibly be infected with a virus or disease that can overtake humanity turning them into monsters. In a roundabout manner the author goes on to state that if you are contaminated by one of those already affected by this mutation or disease you can become a host to said disorder. What is worse is the fact that when you actually die and have no cure, the virus being dormant within nearly all of humanity… will bring you back as part of the horde of walking damned or “Walkers” after death. It is the general premise for the entire television series.

What is ironic about this description and seems to be missed by the other article's author (or remains unstated) is that the above description is a perfect description of unrepentant sin in humanity. Let me re-phrase the above paragraph and put the word sin in place of disease, disorder, etc.

“All of humanity could possibly be infected with sin that can overtake humanity turning them into monsters. If you are contaminated or influenced by those that are sinful or those already affected by sin you can become a host to sin too. What is worse is the fact that when you actually die and have no salvation, because of the dormant (or not so dormant) sin within… you will become part of the horde of walking damned or “Walkers” after death.

The thing that is most frightening about this show is not the zombies. It’s the people that are still alive. When the restraints of civil society come down (and God’s mercy and grace) we see exactly where reprobate people are capable of going (Romans 1). Men and women given over to their sin find the greased slide to Hell and in this way, this show is more reality than science fiction or fantasy. Some of the places the psyches of the characters go (the Governor) is nearly evil incarnate, just like the real world around us. The actual evil and sinful nature of “living” characters in this show is where the true terror or horror lies. The zombies themselves are almost comical at times in their banality. True living humans are capable of much more horrendous evil. Deep in the heart of their sin we see true repulsive nature of natural man that’s had his sin given free reign.

I believe that is why we even Christians stare week after week in morbid fascination of the unspeakable dreadfulness exhibited on this show. Inside we tell ourselves that, “It’s only a show and this nastiness could never happen in real life.” In reality many of us know that not only are we lying to ourselves…we might only be one catastrophic societal event away from that which would put us into the world of this freak show and the nightmare would become real for us all. As a matter of fact, that actual event has been prophesied and foretold for the future, it is called the Tribulation. We need only look at places where societal restraints have come off in the past and either genocide, religious persecution or just plain old societal breakdown ensues to see the precursors to it…Khmer Rouge, the Holocaust, Somalia, the Balkans, Orissa/Odisha, New Orleans after Katrina, etc.

The truth is that, not only is there a risk of being influenced and affected by other sinful people which happens every day, we too are indwelt with the very disorder that would make us a monster of Satan's devising. We are all dead in our sin. Sin is death, because the wages of sin is death. We don’t need to be bitten or die. As a matter of fact, dying with this disorder of sin without the cure (salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) not only condemns us, it forces us to walk in a damned state for eternity. 

Ephesians 2:1-2 ~ And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Frankly, I find this scarier than being reanimated and stabbed in the head with a screwdriver or killed with a shotgun. Actually, I would prefer the shotgun demise over the doom of walking dead in Hell forever. The fact is that we will all be brought back from the grave. The question is: How do we want to come back? Do we want to come back in glory in a resurrection body in the presence of Jesus or do we want to be resurrected to torment similar to the zombies? 

Sometimes reality is scarier than a horror show could ever be.

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