World War Z, Obadiah, and the Pride of Mankind by: Blaine Grimes

Posted: July 3, 2014 by jperritt in Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , , ,

World_War_Z_posterGenerally speaking, I don’t enjoy zombie movies. They’re just not my thing. I was shocked to discover that I had a desire to see World War Z; and while I still can’t explain my desire, I can offer a word of encouragement to those weighing the merits of watching it: it’s not a zombie movie per se. World War Z, while having its fair share of frightening moments, is more at home in the disaster/adventure genre. As a result, I enjoyed the movie more that I thought I would. It turned out that as I was watching, World War Z I had another surprise in store: it reminded me of the Old Testament book of Obadiah. Let me explain. One of the main themes of Obadiah is pride, and one way in which World War Z succeeds is in its accurate depiction of the pride of humanity. In order to illustrate this point, let me give a very brief overview of Obadiah before turning to World War Z. We’ll see that the two are not as unrelated as it seems.

Obadiah—the shortest book in the Old Testament—is essentially an oracle against Edom in which God promises to judge Edom for its pride (Obadiah 1:3). In Obadiah we see that the Edomites were prideful because of the supposed safety of their capital city (1:3), which was nestled in the high sandstone cliffs indigenous to the region. Their city could only be entered by one narrow pathway surrounded by cliffs. The city itself was built into the walls of the cliffs. Easily defended and heavily fortified Edom was thought to be impregnable. The strength and safety of their city led the Edomites to become prideful—to scoff at the idea that they could be defeated. “Who will bring me down to the ground?”(1:3) was their anthem of pride; and the pride of the Edomites is very similar to the pride of the people in World War Z.

World War Z showcases an Edom-esque sort of God-hating pride. We follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) around the world—from location to location—only to see safe places overrun and prideful people humbled. First, we are brought to a high-rise apartment complex in Newark where Gerry and his family take shelter with another family. The Lane family is soon evacuated, and the family that stayed behind—minus one young boy who followed Gerry out of the building—is killed by the zombies. Like the citizens of Edom, they were certain that their home could save them from impending doom. Gerry is later persuaded to accompany a virologist and a team of Navy Seals to a military base in South Korea to find the inception point of the zombie virus. However, the team is attacked; and Gerry is forced to flee—but not before he realizes that he must go to Jerusalem to find answers. Gerry arrives at  Jerusalem to find that the city has been turned into a massive fort, complete with massively tall walls that keep the zombies out of the city. The citizens and refugees of Jerusalem are so confident they are safe that they begin to sing a song of celebration. Attracted by the raucous singing, the zombies rush toward the wall, forming an undead ladder of sorts, and breach the city. The people’s pride leads to their downfall—just like in Obadiah. Gerry subsequently finds himself on a commercial airliner. He thinks he is safe, but (surprise) there is a zombie on board. The plane crashes, and Gerry barely survives. Yet again, the pride of the people in World War Z is strangely similar to the pride of the Edomites.

WORLD WAR Z

So, what hath World War Z to do with Obadiah? Quite a bit, actually. The truth which World War Z highlights is that humans are fundamentally prideful. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, testifies to this reality as well. Left to our own devices, we would forget God and take comfort in the counterfeit safety our nation or our home provides. Without Christ our only hope is that we are evolved enough to handle whatever nature throws our way. World War Z  and Obadiah bothshow that to be prideful is to be supremely foolish. In the end, even though it offers a counter-narrative to the modern humanistic notion that humans are basically good, World War Z fails to convince me that I need more zombie movies in my life.

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