World War Z – 3 Further Discussion Points
I wrote here in some depth about the parallels between the zombie virus in WWZ and sin, but there were three other parallels to spiritual matters that I wanted to mention as well. So here they are in no particular order.
1. Strengths and Weaknesses: in the movie, the key to fighting the virus is to understand its strengths and weaknesses. The entire movie is focused on this concept of strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing them for what they are, for often weaknesses are disguised as strengths. As scientist Andrew Fassback puts it: “We’re going to find something. Mother Nature is a cereal killer. She wants to get caught. She always leaves bread crumbs. She leaves clues… Mother Nature knows how to disguise her weakness as strength. Sometimes what you think is the most beautiful part of her crimes is really the chink in her armor.” Later someone points out that “the hard part is seeing the crumbs for the thing they are.”
There is a lot of truth to unearth in this but I’ll keep it brief. Our greatest strengths are often (if not always) our greatest weaknesses. And, in an ironic twist, God treasures our weaknesses. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 that God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Just like in WWZ, the hard part, often, is seeing things for what they are—recognizing strengths and weaknesses truly, seeing weaknesses as blessings and opportunities for God’s strength to be displayed, and recognizing when our strengths are just cleverly disguised weaknesses. That’s kind of a lot to take in all at once…it can be a bit dizzying if you really think about it, so you may want to chew on that a while!
2. Lose your life to find it: Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) had served the UN in numerous very dangerous situations. He was done. He was happy to be at home with his family, cooking pancakes and watching his daughters grow up. When the zombies attacked, he and his family narrowly escaped, with the help of the UN, to a ship, far removed from immediate danger. Except, his UN boss made it clear that Gerry and his family were only welcome if Gerry was willing to go back to work, risking his life to find a cure. “Each and every person is here because they serve an essential purpose. There’s no room for non-essential personnel. The best way for you to help your family is to put an end to this.” Gerry wanted to stay safe with his family, and to stay and protect them should danger arise. He had no desire to go back to work, in the field. He didn’t have much choice, though.
Gerry thought that he could save his life, and the lives of his family, by playing it safe and protecting his life. The truth was, the only way to save his family and himself, was to give of himself. He had to risk his life, to be willing to lose it, if he was to save anyone.
God wanted to save mankind, His earthly children, if you will, and He had to make a similar choice. The only way to save man was to give His Son’s life. The only way for Jesus to save man was to be willing to die. So He did, and because He died, we can now live. It’s a principle we see over and over scripture and in life itself. In Matthew 10:39, Jesus teaches this principle: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” We may not be risking our physical lives, or facing zombies as an imminent threat, but the principle is still true for us. It’s inevitable that we are, ourselves, facing some situation(s) where we are being challenged to put our desires, our interests, our flesh to death in some way or another so that we might save ourselves and/or the ones we love.
3. Don’t be naïve: This may be my favorite point of all. Gerry went to Jerusalem for some answers. It was the one city that was fortified and prepared when the zombie virus went, well… viral. He asked Jurgen Warmbrunn how they knew to prepare for the zombies. There had been some rumors of zombies, but how did they know to take it seriously? It was so outlandish, everyone else dismissed the thought. Why did the Israelites respond differently? Gerry expected to some scientific answers that might help him find a cure. What Warmbrunn said, however, wasn’t very helpful for Gerry…but I think it is helpful for us.
The problem with most people is that they don’t believe something can happen until it already has. In the 30’s, Jews refused to believe they’d be put in concentration camps…[he lists a few other things Jews didn’t believe could happen until it was too late]…so we decided to make a change. If nine of us arrive at the same conclusion at the same time, it’s the duty of the tenth man to disagree. To start digging.
Warmbrunn points out that time after time his people got burned because they didn’t take danger seriously. They thought things were too outlandish, too ridiculous to be a real concern, and they were massacred because of it. They finally made a pact that someone would always be responsible to seriously investigate any threat of danger, no matter how far out and impossible it seemed. So when whispers of zombies surfaced, they didn’t dismiss it. Warmbrunn responded as if it very well could be true. He researched and planned and prepared the city in case the worst case scenario, the ridiculous and absurd, actually turned out to be real.
This is intriguing to me. It’s a difficult balance to find. Of course you can’t go around being an alarmist and preparing for every contingency. In fact, I think that people who are that way make the rest of us even less inclined to take any warning seriously – it’s like we’re hearing wolf cried too often and we’ve become numb. HOWEVER, I do think that we, especially in America, have probably gotten too comfortable and relaxed. I wonder if we aren’t just a little naïve about the dangers we are facing, politically, economically, spiritually, etc. I don’t even know what the dangers are, but I feel like I’m hearing some indistinct rumors and whispers—things I want to discard as ridiculous or paranoid, but things I have a nagging feeling may be nearer to a reality than I want to admit.
I’m not an alarmist. In fact, I probably tend toward the under-alarmed. I think that’s all the more reason why this was such an intriguing part of the movie—because it’s not my nature to take the threat of danger seriously or to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but I can see the benefit of it. I’m not sure where to go from here, honestly. Pray, I guess, and ask God to help us all be wise and aware and prepared when the time comes, whatever that “time” may be. I just know I’m a little haunted by Warmbrunn’s statement about how “the problem with most people is that they don’t believe something can happen until it already has.”
I think that is one of Satan’s biggest tactics, to keep us naïve, thinking “that could never happen!” Isn’t that basically what he told Eve in the garden? She said God told her if she ate of the tree she would die, and he said that was ridiculous. He fed her desire to believe that the danger wasn’t real. I think we would be naïve to think that he’s changed a winning game plan. He’s still feeding our false sense of security. He’s still denying the rumors, telling us, “there’s no way…zombie’s? That’s just crazy talk. Ridiculous.” What’s going to happen if one of those rumors actually becomes a reality? Will we be prepared, or caught unaware?
Questions for Discussion:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? How might you look at those differently, knowing what God says about them?
- What did you think about what WWZ said about “mother nature”?
- The Bible says you have to lose your life to find it. What examples of this can you think of in your own life?
- Are there any areas in your life right now that would be improved if you were willing to “die to self”? How so?
- Have you ever not taken rumors of danger seriously when you should have? What happened? Looking back, do you see Satan deceiving you just as he did Eve?
- How do you respond to people who are alarmists?
- Do you tend to be the person who takes every concern seriously, or the person who doesn’t think anything is serious?
- What “dangers” or “zombie rumors” have you been hearing lately on a large scale (i.e. not something just personal, but something political, economical, and/or global)? Do you think they are really potential threats, or just absurd alarmist rumors?
To read about how the zombie virus parallels sin in World War Z, click here.
To read a collection of quotes from World War Z, click here.
By Stacey Tuttle