“Haunted by the Dead” – The Walking Dead

walking deadI know that some Christians are highly opposed to watching any movie related to zombies, vampires, witches, ghosts, and demons.  I typically avoid these types of shows and movies as well.  Most of the time they seem to be filmed for shock value and have what I consider to be excessive and unnecessary sex, gore, and violence with little to none redeeming value.

However, I have found a lot that I enjoy about AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is based on the Image Comics series with the same name.

Here’s what I enjoy about the show – the moral dilemmas.

If one of us must die to save the rest, who should it be and why?

When is it appropriate to kill someone else?  If you know letting the person live will likely lead to many more deaths, murders in fact, murders within your own family, do you let the person go!  An entire episode dealt with essentially a debate about this topic with arguments from both sides.

The show raises questions about government authority. If our entire governmental system were to crash, who makes the laws, who enforces those laws, what laws from before still apply and which ones no longer do?

All of this is connected to the value of humanity.  The one character in the show who has consistently fought for the intrinsic value of all humans as being equal has been the Christian pastor, because he of course knows that we are all created in the image of God.  He again and again calls people to look to the good that God is working out through the zombie apocalypse.

As fictional as a zombie apocalypse might be, the scenarios come down to what we all face in our day to day lives on much smaller levels – provision and safety for our families – are we selfless or selfish – do we seek to love God and love our neighbor – or do we seek to save our own lives?

Spoiler [this paragraph break only] Once the Christian pastor is removed from the show, the group quickly begins to dissolve into us first, and kill everyone else mode.  Maybe rightfully so in the scenarios presented thus far, but there is no hesitation any longer!

Walking Dead2

And there are of course some really good quotes one can pull from the show.  Here’s one that stuck out to me:

“That’s the fear, right?  People who are living are haunted by the dead.  We are who we are; we do what we do, because they’re still here – in our heads, in the forests, the world is haunted now, and there’s no getting out of that.  Not until we’re dead.”

Isn’t this true for us, here, in this world, our very real world not overrun by zombies.  We are who we are and we do what we do because of those who went before us – the dead if you will.  Why do we sin?  Because Adam sinned and his sin has been passed on to all of us (Romans 5).  Why do I do the things I do, why am I the way I am?  Largely, it’s a result of my ancestors (the dead).  I am in very much the same way as my father and mother, and I’m sure they are very much who they are because of their father and mother, and it can keep going back down the line.  Genesis shows this from the very beginning – just look at the patterns that flowed from Cain to his descendents compared to those that flowed from Seth down to his.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – if you will.

Also, aren’t we haunted by the dead?  It’s always in front of us, death.  Those who have died that we have known, are always in our heads, in our thoughts.  They remind us of our own mortality.

This world is truly haunted!  Is it not?  At least, as it is now, in its fallen state due to sin!  And there is no escaping it.  Not until we die.  At which point there is an escape, but that escape only comes to those who have died in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Can Sci-Fi Fanboys Allow Co-existence?

Sci-Fi Coexist Bumper StickerCould this happen?

Of course, fans of the X-Files can love the Alien universe.  Plenty of Lord of the Rings fans also read the Star Wars books and follow all of the spin-offs.   Even the most treasonous act of loving Star Wars and Star Trek occurs all of the time.  And the most blasphemous act of all is already set in motion – JJ Abrams who directed the Star Trek remakes is directing the forthcoming Star Wars trilogy.  I know one fanboy who couldn’t sit still in-class when this news was released.  His world had ended.

Of course, this type of co-existence happens in the Sci-fi world.  Geeks, nerds, fanboys can unite over multiple Sci-fi universes and enjoy them at the same time.  But… can those universes actually co-exist with one another.  Could you imagine how it would play out if an alien from the Alien universe entered into the X-Files story arch?  Chris Carter would be strung up before filming even has a chance to begin.  What if some sort of time and dimension jump took place and all of a sudden the Star Trek Enterprise with Captain Kirk was teaming up with the Rebels to fight the Empire?  Fans would not allow this to happen.  Would they?  Could this co-existence really take place?  Could these story-archs all unite without sacrificing something special within each of their unique universes?

So why should we expect this to happen with religions?  Come on!

Could this be a good starting point for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone?

Samsara – Christianity Today’s Movie Review

I like reading movie reviews from Christianity Today.  I like the reviews that are connected to a Christian worldview, and sometimes I especially like the discussion questions that are present at the end of each review.  Without even seeing the movie, Samsara, the discussion questions at the end of the Samsara movie review are great to use in religious/spiritual conversations:


Filmed in 25 countries over five years, a beautiful moving picture book of the world.
Mack Hayden


[ posted 8/31/2012 5:31 ]
our rating

3 Stars - Good
mpaa rating

PG-13 (for some disturbing and sexual images)
Directed By

Ron Fricke
Run Time

1 hour 42 minutes

Theatre Release

August 23, 2012 by Oscilloscope Pictures

Samsara. The name begets an aura of distant mystery. What kind of film is this? A journey into the unknown or a treasure hunt spanning continents? An elixir guaranteeing meaning to all shades of existence, sought for high and low? The latest project from Ron Fricke (1985’s Chronos and 1992’s Baraka) answers a subtle yes to all these suggestions while reaching even further. His camera traverses the globe with the fervency of a Cortes, the ambition of a Magellan. Still, his greater purpose is to create not a travelogue but a dialogue. The far-away wonders and nearby concerns presented are meant to encourage us to allow the world to illumine itself and our souls.

If narrative structure is necessary for your cinematic enjoyment, Samsara will probably dissatisfy. One viewer may perceive it to be a kaleidoscopic masterpiece while another may see it as an unwelcome flashback to college art history slide shows. No dialogue is exchanged between characters, no soliloquies pass the lips of any personage. It’s a silent documentary, accompanied by ambient music and the even louder soundtrack of the viewer’s own thoughts. A variety of landscapes, faces, and circumstances pass in and out of focus bereft of any explanation.

Buddhist monks and a communal work of art Buddhist monks and a communal work of art

The breadth of life depicted here refuses to be framed or unified. Diversity is the highest virtue. Toward the beginning, a group of Buddhist monks gathers around a patch of ground to create a work of art, communally crafting a mandala—a spiritual tapestry made of colored sands, as delicate as it is intricate. Close to when the curtains fall, the same monks are seen destroying what they have created—not with any sense of malice but perhaps a hint of fatalism. The end was as inevitable as the beginning. What happens in between creation and destruction is life, life, shining life. Fricke sets out to display it all. Fantasies and nightmares, the serene and saddening. Questions are posed by portrayal alone. What is man’s hand in both the assembling and dispersal of the tapestry? The personalities, the architecture, and the threatening wild all seem to support different conclusions. And perhaps that’s what Fricke wants the viewer to take away in the first place.

An infant awaits baptism An infant awaits baptism

Samsara is a phenomenally ambitious film. Shot over the course of five years, spanning continents, it sets out to encompass the whole world and life from infancy to cessation. The cinematography captures all the myriad elements of earthly life with vibrancy and colorful abandon. Think The Tree of Life meets National Geographic in motion. Each scene is composed according to its own needs. Still, this fly-by-night set of moving pictures is able to maintain its strange unpredictability without becoming a mere series of vignettes. Inexplicably, Fricke was able to make different countries, different peoples, and different shooting styles cohere without losing each scene’s originality.

While often evoking wonder, any study of life’s light can only be seen by darkness’s occasional display. Disturbance comes unexpectedly and without warning. Interposed with the mundane or joyful are factually based and surrealistic examples of fear and evil. Animals are mistreated, the aftermath of catastrophe is analyzed, and a nightmare plays out in an office cubicle. There is the desire to turn away, the cringe you wish did not exist. Especially when couched in so many other real life images, Fricke refuses to spoon feed. If we are to have his vision of human existence, cradle to the grave, we are to have a vision that includes the righteous and the wicked.

A Mursi tribe girl from Ethiopia A Mursi tribe girl from Ethiopia

Faces take up most of the screen time; the human visage is the most useful metaphor for the human soul. By staring into the eyes of so many different people, the spectator’s self is brought under greater scrutiny. Interior monologuing reaches an all-time high as uncomfortable seconds while by, faces staring directly into the camera and, by extension, directly into the audience’s hearts. In its best moments, the film unnerves or enlightens by creating the sensation that it is watching you. A look into the eyes of African or Tibetan citizens makes life both more intense and sublime in North America

The Christian’s sense of mission might be deepened by films such as these. On one hand, it seems to be a practical ode to postmodernity. “Can you not see how different we all are?” “How silly to impose an exclusive system of belief on such an endless world?” But through each scene, a little more of the beauty and brokenness found in every human artwork and personality is revealed. The tapestry is created and then destroyed: this is an absolute. Even more so is the desire for resurrection, for a more beautiful and indestructible tapestry that we have yet to even understand.

Talk About It

Discussion starters

  1. What is the value of travel in the Christian life? Can seeing other ways of life help us better understand our own?
  2. The film’s more disturbing sequences are deeply unsettling. Are nightmares as essential as lighthearted dreams to the human condition?
  3. Do you think the director’s worldview is detectable here? If so, do you think it can be considered compatible with Christianity?

The Family Corner

For parents to consider

Samsara is rated PG-13 for some disturbing and sexual images. There is one truly frightening sequence involving a man in an office cubicle as well as some scary images involving deformities or human cruelty to animals. Another scene takes place in what appears to be an erotic dance club somewhere in Asia. The breasts of African tribal women are also seen in a different sequence.