A Depraved Mind Dec11

A Depraved Mind

Foraging for food, seeking shelter, and facing hordes of undead is just another day in the life of the group of survivors from Atlanta, Georgia, in The Walking Dead. Something else that strikes me, though, is that there are several occurrences in The Walking Dead that are reminiscent of Christianity—from the group holing up in a church in episode 2.1, to Hershel’s daily Bible study, occasions of prayer and scripture quotation, mentions of Christ, and the character of Father Gabriel. Beyond these nods to the Christian milieu of the American South, the show’s portrayal of the human condition is of particular interest to me. Namely, The Walking Dead juxtaposes hope with the brutality of a savage, amoral world. The behaviour of the people in the world of The Walking Dead evidences the depraved disposition of humanity as described in the Bible. The Walking Dead, like other apocalyptic fiction, portrays humanity as self-serving. It is this selfishness that leads to the human-on-human thievery and violence that begins full-force in Season Three. As Rick and Shane’s factions threaten to split the group after they imprison a stranger who attempted to kill them, Dale’s plea for the group to remember its humanity by not executing the young man is a moral event horizon. When Dale dies and the walker herd descends on the farm, the characters lose their home as well as their hope that the world can ever go back to the way it was. Dale was a tangible symbol of that hope. Now, other survivors may be more of a threat than the walkers themselves. Without the promises hope provides, can altruism truly exist? Congruent to The Walking Dead, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight provides an apt ethical meditation on the implications of facing a merciless foe who...

Azula: villainous femme fatale Oct26

Azula: villainous femme fatale...

Few things highlight great heroes like great villains. Villains bring conflict. They force the heroes to fight, challenge their beliefs, and often leave them physically and emotionally scarred. Some villains were once heroes, and tragically fell when they could no longer bear the burdens of this life. Others, so it seems, were born evil the same as I was born with brown eyes. These villains in particular take on universal characteristics, giving them a larger than life stature in the stories they haunt with their dog-kicking and fridge-stuffing. One villainous femme fatale worthy of special mention is Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Princess Azula. Every time the teenaged Azula makes her debut in Book 2: Earth, I can’t help muttering: “Ugh. She’s the worst.” Princess Azula, voiced by the talented Gray Delisle, is the daughter of Firelord Ozai and Princess Ursa and the younger sister of Prince Zuko, Avatar’s antihero. After Zuko fails to capture Aang in the first season of the show, the Firelord dispatches Azula to hunt down him and his friends once and for all. Azula threatens the heroes of Avatar on several fronts. As a prodigious firebender possessing the full financial and military backing of the Fire Nation, she is a constant physical threat. At the battle outside the walls of Ba Sing Se, Azula betrays friends and enemies alike.Azula manages to get her claws on Avatar Aang. While many stories use such instances to give the villain a monologue or have them throw the hero into some pit they’ll inevitably bust out of, Azula, with a smirk, goes straight for the kill. Aang is luckily saved by some falling rocks, not by Azula’s ineptitude. Azula is a genius sociopath who firmly believes in Avatar’s versions of Divine Right and Manifest...

A theology of Christian geekdom Sep11

A theology of Christian geekdom...

Geek (gēk): A person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity; a person who is socially awkward and unpopular; a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people. Christian (krĭs′chən): A person who believes in and follows Jesus Christ. ____ North American Evangelicalism doesn’t have the best track record of embracing the arts. From Puritan iconoclasts to 20th-century fundamentalists, the arts and artists were historically pigeonholed with the worst sectors of high church legalism. More recently, the arts have been associated with dangerous flirtations with worldly culture manifested in film, television, comics, and video games. Some even go so far as to suggest that Christians who engage with the geek arts shame God and open themselves to demonic attack. While it is entirely possible for people to be “geeky” about sports or the hard sciences, there is a subset of geekdom that focuses primarily on the arts. Books? Television? Movies? Video Games? Anime? These are storytelling arts. Art (ahrt): Something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Certain geeks—say, the people who regularly read this site—are actually art lovers. That’s right, kiss the cheese doodle dust off your fingers and give me a high-five, because I’m looking at you! In some ways, Evangelicalism’s rejection of the arts has often implied a rejection of geeks. Those of us who love video games, movies, comics, fantasy stories, and all the rest have felt misunderstood, belittled, or in the worst cases, outright rejected by our families and church communities for frittering away our time and energy on these pursuits. In his critically-acclaimed autobiographical graphic novel Blankets, author Craig Thompson includes these frames that characterize the...