About a week ago I was watching the newest episode of the Walking Dead. Even if you’ve never seen the show, you may know it’s a show that features zombies. But I maintain part of what makes the show compelling is the zombies are really only a vehicle for dynamic character development and story telling.
The walking dead is really a show about human nature with zombie window dressing.
This particular episode was no exception; spending the majority of the episode mapping out the backstory of one of the main characters. There was a moment during the episode when one character was describing his view of killing; that it isn’t natural.
He told the main character how soldiers came back from war with PTSD because all that killing and horror wasn’t natural for humans. That we’re wired for connection and not to kill.
Which made me think about another show I love, Breaking Bad, and what made that show so great.
Breaking Bad, in my humble opinion, is a study in sin.
Walter White, the main character of Breaking Bad, begins the series as not just a mild-mannered guy, but a pushover. He’s one of the nicest men you’ll ever know, to a fault.
Yet, over the course of the series, he transforms into one of the meanest, seemingly soulless men. He uses people to make sure he gets what he wants and when using them isn’t an option, he kills them as a man would move pawns in order to win a game of chess.
Part of what I adore about the show is it takes a key element of Lutheran theology, that is we’re all sinners and capable of doing the worst.
Which brings me back to the Walking Dead – because that notion of theology that says we’re all capable of doing the worst, that we’re all sinners, doesn’t jive with the idea that we’re not wired to kill. One posits that we’re naturally good and bad things happen when we do what we shouldn’t and the other states that it’s part of our human condition to do bad things. That in effect we are wired somehow to be bad.
They appear to be at odds with one another – but I think they are both right. We are simul justus et peccator – simultaneously saint and sinner. We are both good and evil. We aren’t wired to kill each other and yet still have the capability to do that.
All of us.
And that’s what makes grace and mercy so darn wonderful.
Image: id iom (https://www.flickr.com/photos/id-iom/)