The Walking Dead - What's Your Escape Plan?

So AMC’s “The Walking Dead” had its Season 4 premiere this month. The show’s success is not that surprising seeing as zombie flicks have captivated audiences for generations. I have been fascinated by this show since the pilot. The art design is incredible, providing cinematic visuals to chaos and destruction. There are character stories hidden in the set designs fueling the interest of the observer. The horror is displayed on two levels; human and zombie. Creator Frank Darabont is a master at revealing the inner revulsion of a human being consumed by fear. The surviving characters become intertwined in a struggle for power, leading to brutality, corruption, and injustice among a civilization ruled by the dead. In many ways, each character is challenged to face their own morality, some choosing good and many choosing evil.

The second element of horror comes from the zombies. These revolting mindless drones driven only by the desire to feed provide for effective nightmares…I've had several. There is something purely horrific about human bodies becoming reanimated after death. As a culture we are fascinated by it. Why? I believe it’s because a zombie represents a person’s greatest fear. Not bodily death, but eternal death.

In the show, several characters go through a denial process when a loved one “turns”, becomes a zombie. Morgan fights against his inability to kill his zombified wife, Andrea struggles to cope after she is forced to kill her “undead” sister, and the Governor keeps his daughter chained up in his closet after she has “turned”. Zombie grief is much different from regular grief. Regular grief consists usually of denial, anger, depression and acceptance. You may attend a funeral, visit a grave-site pray often, and continue to talk with the departed after their gone. There is usually no time limit.

The process of zombie grief consists of all those, but within a matter of minutes with the possibility of having to shoot a temporally resurrected body in the head. Recognizing that the spiritual element of a person no longer exists in their body is horrific in itself. Many of the kids in this current season begin naming the zombies because they can’t understand what they are.

"The Walking Dead" reveals some interesting Christian themes. The scariest part of  a zombie is the lack of a soul.  A zombie is a visual representation of eternal death, as presented in the Book of Genesis.

“The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.” Gen 2:16-17

Adam was commanded not to sin or else he would suffer death. How was Adam to understand death, when death did not exist yet? Furthermore, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree, they didn't physically die? Why not? It seems God was speaking of a spiritual death, not physical death. A zombie is the perfect visual for what spiritual death can look like. Without dying physically, one can die spiritually due to sin.

"Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness." - Rom 6:12-14

Christianity presents Jesus as the second Adam who absorbed this kind of death and redeemed mankind for those who freely accept it. Jesus's resurrection is the proof of eternal life and is offered to all. Death, in this case, does not have to be scary anymore; however, I believe there is a commonality in humans of a deep understanding of this spiritual death, having been passed down from our first ancestors. It is from this wellspring of fear that causes our fascination with zombies. Seeing a reanimated body subconsciously reminds us of what we have lost. It's kind of like that person who constantly brings up your shortcomings in front of others. You are filled with shame and fear. Yet, there is hope.

“The Walking Dead” presents us with a great opportunity to put together our own escape plan. Not to escape a real life zombie Apocalypse (Although it could happen…read here), but to escape a life of spiritual death.

What’s your escape plan?
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