Swords To Plowshares: What The Walking Dead Revealed About the UMC

I am a recent comer to the series “The Walking Dead.”  I am not a
fan of the zombie genre at all but so many friends were watching it that I ran through the seasons on Netflix and am now thoroughly entranced in the story and up to date.  Like many others, I have, to a limited degree found myself reflecting on the moral messages of the story arc.

The mid-season finale of the fourth season clearly struck a chord with many of my friends and viewers.  I was not so surprised because the writers have done a good job of creating a universe where no one is immune to the reality of their mortality.  Even so, I was caught off guard by one word.


It was a word spoken by the “Governor/Brian” in response to a plea by the story’s hero, “Rick.”  Rick had laid out the possibility of two groups living in a prison that had in fact, become a fort protecting them from the zombie hordes.  The Governor declined the plea from Rick with one word declaring Rick to be a liar.

Had Rick lied?  Oh, certainly he had at other points in the story arc but Rick had also been humbled and broken by many crises.  The Governor, we thought, had been changed for the better too, up until this point.  But the Governor had been a liar and continued that path.  He had come to see in everyone else the sin which most tormented himself.  In one man’s plea for peace and community, all the Governor could see was the evil which had come to own him.

As I read and listen to conversations surrounding our United Methodist Church about the recent rulings in Pennsylvania and the actions of a retired Bishop in Alabama, I could not help but consider the many sides and the conclusions we seem to be reaching regarding one another.  I have no intention of calling anyone out for their posts on blogs, Facebook, or Twitter.  I willingly admit to creating “straw-men.”  I do not see how the other matters at all.

Sexuality and homosexuality specifically, has taken center stage for the UMC.  We have done much work according the “Quadrilateral,” making careful cases using Scripture, reason, experience and tradition.  I have read well presented cases from many sides of the issue.  Yet, it seems to me, we continue to fall for the same mirage which entrapped the Governor.  Are we really making our cases “for” or “against” a position or are we seeing in others the sins which we fear in ourselves? 

When Jesus brought up the issue of “specks” and “logs” in our eyes, he kept it simple, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)” It is incredibly easy to make this a measurement of how much sin we have compared to those we want to judge but I don’t think it is that at all.

We have got to come clean with the condition of our own soul and our own sin.  Jesus’ example is one of absurdity to try and show us the truth that it is most often what we fear the most in ourselves is what we see in those around us.  When “the right” is condemned for a lack of compassion and failing to love like Jesus, is this not what we on the left are failing to do ourselves?  When “the left” is condemned for being slack in their scholarship and wishy-washy about sin, is this not what we on the right fear in our own inner work? 

Liar.  With that word, the Governor proceeded to end the life of one of the show’s most prophetic voices.  The left and the right of this argument (and many other arguments for that matter) do not own a monopoly on having prophetic voices.  However, the quicker we are to cut with the sword, the fewer brothers and sisters we have to beat them into plowshares.  

Ken's Note: This is not an endorsement for watching "The Walking Dead."  If you are uncomfortable with gore and violence, don't watch it.  I think I did a fair job of describing the scene, just leave it at that.


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