The zombiepocalypse movie World War Z has an unexpected theological twist.

The zombiepocalypse movie World War Z has an unexpected theological twist. (Movie poster is for sale at the Paramount Store.)

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers. Please don’t read it unless you

a) have already seen the movie World War Z,

b) don’t intend to ever see the movie World War Z, or

c) have been eaten by zombies and just don’t care anymore.

I love a good disaster flick. I kind of enjoy even the really stupid ones, as my plot requirements for disaster movies are waifishly thin.

So imagine my surprise when the new blockbuster World War Z turned out not only to be intelligent but almost downright theological — unlike this summer’s Man of Steel movie, which was so overtly theological that what were meant to be subtle overtones nearly knocked me unconscious.

The big spoiler is this: when zombies are taking over the world at an alarming rate and only Brad Pitt stands between us and disaster, he hypothesizes that the way to protect ourselves from zombies is, counterintuitively, to make ourselves weaker. He observes the zombies avoiding a couple of people who don’t fight back, people who seem vulnerable, including an old man and a child. Like many feral creatures, the zombies have a protective mechanism of not attacking or biting creatures whose (blood / guts /absolutely delicious brains) could make them sick.

From there Pitt’s character extrapolates that if he can infect the living with deadly illnesses for a short time, the marauding zombies might just pass them by.

Ain't no wall high enough to keep the zombies away from you.

Ain’t no wall high enough to keep the zombies away from you. But you might consider making yourself very, very sick. (Movie still from the official World War Z website.)

It is a surprising message in any action movie that what wins the day are not the best gadgets or the deadliest weapons, but a fragile vulnerability.

Weakness becomes strength. Actively choosing weakness — especially when every cell of your body is screaming to cling to power instead — leads to life.

Huh. That sounds a whole lot like Jesus.

8 Comments

  1. I take issue with the insinuation that Jesus “chose weakness”. How many people would lay down their life for those who would threaten, reject them and their message? How many would bravely stand up to a mob of those seeking to kill him without fighting back? Anyone who would call Jesus “weak” or that he “CHOSE” to be weak knows VERY little about him. The bible calls him the “LION OF JUDAH”. Jesus is brave and strong. There is no weakness (sin) in him. Real love, is never weak, and Jesus exemplifies this.

    • Of course Jesus chose weakness. But the weakness is only as the world sees it. To God and to those of us who have been made alive through faith in Christ, that same weakness – sacrificial love – is actually the greatest strength and defeated sin, death, and the devil. No need to take issue with Jesus choosing weakness. Hear St. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “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.”

    • Jana Riess

      Jay — Chris is right. Jesus most definitely chose weakness, and he asks us to choose it too. It is a hard truth to live, isn’t it?

      “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[a] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. . . .” (Phil. 2:6-8)

      • He may have been in the likeness of men, but he did the will of his Father, not in weakness, but because he loved Him and of his love for mankind. Hence he prayed, “If its is possible, let this cup pass from me. But not as I will but as YOU will.” To endure the humiliation and torture is NOT weakness but strength through and through.

        God delights in “weakness” meaning that his servants, with their frailties and imperfections (Jesus had NONE of these) can be used to do his will and remain faithful. Where as a faithful servant of God may seem weak by man’s standards, but able to endure persecutions for Christ’s sake. That is the “delight in weakness.”

  2. Jay…you are confusing and missing the point. Read I Cor 18-25: when you see the word foolish or weakness you are then reading a metaphor, a play on words, that is intended here. Unless you get the play on words, you miss the whole point.

    • I understand what youre trying to say when you quote that scripture. And i understand what is meant by a foolish thing or a weak thing of God, and yes it IS a play on words. Those verses mean that a person who doesnt know God (the atheist or the non believer) believe that FAITH is foolishness and or weakness on the part of the believer. but these verse help us to appreciate that despite the worlds view of faith in Christ, that it be foolish or weakness, God is still more powerful and wiser than they believe themselves to be. IT is the difference between a fleshly man and a spiritual man.

      THAT SAID, In NO WAY does it imply that Jesus was WEAK or that he chose to BE WEAK.

      It is to have a warped sense of the Christ if you believe him to be anything other than courageous and strong. Full of faith and ZEAL for his Father’s work and His name. Full of LOVE (which takes courage and strength) for all of mankind, to lay down his life for us.

      • Jana Riess

        There is no greater courage or strength to be found than the strength of someone who chooses to be weak, as Jesus did. He could have come as a mighty warrior. Instead, he arrived in a diaper, a helpless infant.

        Some wisdom from Michael Card:

        “We in our foolishness thought we were wise
        He played the fool and He opened our eyes
        We in our weakness believed we were strong
        He became helpless to show we were wrong
        So we follow God’s own Fool
        For only the foolish can tell
        Believe the unbelievable, come be a fool as well.”

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