What series am I describing?
Murder. Kingdoms. Thrones. Vengeance. Games. The rise and the fall of civilizations. Swords. A cast of profoundly varied personalities and nuanced characteristics. Power struggles. Misguided ideals. Dominion. Plots and subplots and pretext and context. Multiple popular literary genres. An array of different languages, cultures, tribes, and legal systems. The intricacies of the human condition. Vivid imagery. Captivating themes. Fascinating familial interactions. Mayhem. Intrigue. Moral depravity. Licentiousness. Disturbing outcomes. Cryptic mindsets. Diverse premises. Miracles. Coming back from the dead. Conversions. SAINTS. Virtue. Holiness. The Chosen One.
Did you know that the series that I just described has been around for over two thousand years… with no series finale in sight? (Spoiler alert: Good wins and the Main Character is an actual historical figure [along with most of the characters, in fact].) In other words, if you have happened to enjoy Game of Thrones, you will really enjoy seeing the above themes throughout the Bible as well. And there are even twenty-five appearances of a DRAGON!
Although I have never seen any episode of Game of Thrones, I have heard plenty about it from friends. I have learned that it features high-quality cinematography, the intricacies of the human condition, the genres alluded to, and so forth. I have long been curious as to why the show is deemed such popular entertainment, and in what way it entertains. I was discussing it with a friend recently, and she described the following feature of the show: “[‘Game of Thrones’] has made people shudder in the way they SHOULD shudder at the thought of war. People dying at the hands of others in the name of someone or something else is a real thing, we are living it now, and we gloss over it as though it’s not just as violent and awful.”
As an avid wildlife enthusiast particularly interested in primates, I have learned that only two animals so readily engage in mortal combat with members of their same species, unprovoked: chimpanzees and humans. We are unfortunately captivated by violence, and it is a dilemma that we must resolve. From a Christian worldview, Christ allowed himself to be subjected to the full brunt of violence – by the authority of the sanguine Roman Empire, as it were – so that we would no longer have to question that he loves us so much that he would undergo that subjugation down that dark alley of the human psyche for our ultimate redemption: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?’” (Matthew 26:52-54); “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
To go a few centuries more in history, Christianity was the only force that could finally substantively “tame” the bellicose worldviews of the gregarious European tribes: the Romans, the Franks, the Huns, the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Vikings, and others, to name the more prominent ones. The Gospel brought peace (until factions of Christianity began using it against each other as of the mid-1500s, effectively neglecting Matthew 7:21-23 in the process… yet I digress).
Another friend discussed another feature of the show recently: “But I can’t help but wonder how much of its popularity is because of the explicit sex and violence.” These two features, when considered with mutual inclusion, are of course not to pretend that everyone who watches the series does so for the gratuitous corporeality of it all. Yet, why is it that whenever anyone describes the show to me, I hear a caveat regarding the steady mayhem and people appearing immodestly? Maturity can provide for someone’s engagement with a plot without leaving nothing to the imagination, lest it devolves into raw sensualism.
Returning to my original point, occasionally, there is a common refrain (summarized, with no offense intended – rather, making a hopefully illustrative point in response to a frequent position): “Doesn’t Game of Thrones feature the same descriptions of moral depravity, peculiarities of the human condition, plot twists, and complex character development that are present in the Bible?” If so, I was unaware that we were in an era in which people, by at least the tens of millions, were prepared to readily enter into fluent hours-long conversations with others among broad cross-sections of society about captivating biblical figures and other elaborate details about the scriptural elements reflective of salvation history throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Now we are talking.
So, If You Like Game Of Thrones
So, if you like Game of Thrones, prepare to be blown away by a labyrinthine account of how salvation history – the most enthralling tale (that is more than a tale) imaginable – culminates with some very Good News: Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin and death forever more. And did somebody say something about there being dragons? I thought I was reading Revelation for a moment.
(This series – which you can even take part in while the kids are around – is now available for free, without a subscription [ever], at this link.)