The Gospel According to A Game of Thrones Jun09


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The Gospel According to A Game of Thrones

The conclusion of the third season of HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy A Game of Thrones is tonight. Of course, those of you who know and love the story already know that, while those of you who don’t probably don’t care. 🙂

Recently, there’s been a minor furor over whether Christians should watch such a violent and racy show. In response, I wrote an article on the Huffington Post suggesting that the way one responds to that question says as much about one’s theology as it does the show. I’ll put the opening paragraphs below and direct you to the article should you want to read it, but first a few comments:

1) This is not a story for kids. It’s not C. S. Lewis or Tolkien. Martin himself has expressed his disbelief when folks bring a book for him to sign and say it’s for their kids.

2) Yes, it is violent. So is the Bible. Remember Herod’s treatment of John, or Deborah the Judge…or the whole of Revelation. Violence is a part of our life and is represented in the Bible no less than in a series like Game of Thrones.

3) Yes, it also is fairly sexually explicit, particularly the television version. This is HBO, and it many ways it’s a shame they felt the need to make explicit what Martin often left implicit or even add additional scenes. (Saturday Night Live did a great parody on just this point where they imagine that it’s really a hormone-driven teenage boy directing the series, which – be warned – is very funny but also rather suggestive.) You’ll have decide your own tolerance for that element of the show.

All that said, I’ve enjoyed the books immensely and thought HBO has done a pretty good job of bringing it to the screen. So here’s the beginning of the article. Feel free to join the conversation at the HuffPo site if you’re interested and enjoy the finale (if you’re watching!).

David Gibson of the Religious News Service recently asked what I take to be an intentionally provocative question: “Can a Christian watch A Game of Thrones?” My short answer: certain kinds of Christians can, while others most definitely should not.


Allow me to explain. First and foremost, there is no more one kind of Christian any more than there is one kind of Muslim, Jew or atheist. And the recent furor in Christian circles about George R. R. Martin’s magical and medieval-like world of Westeros reveals one of the unspoken dividing lines between two very different understandings of Christianity.


For some, Christianity is the answer to a problem, indeed, to many problems: addiction, lawlessness, debauchery and more. This is the version of Christianity that has dominated the religious imagination of America in recent years, stringing together a host of otherwise disparate Christian traditions that run the gamut from the “family values” morality of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to the “prosperity gospel” of Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen. Its unifying tenent: Christianity restores righteousness and order to a chaotic world and promises stability and success (whether moral or economic) to those who adhere to it.


Another version of Christianity also recognizes the world and human existence as unruly and chaotic, but rather than imagining that Christian faith eliminates the tremors, it offers its adherents instead only the ability to keep their footing amid the vibrations. This kind of Christianity raises more questions than it answers and makes few promises beyond saying that there is more to this story we are living than meets the eye and that hope often emerges from unexpected quarters.


Which is where “A Game of Thrones” comes in….


Find the rest of the article here.