Season 10, Episode 2, We Are The End of the World

By Thom McKee

Have you ever discovered that an authority figure in your life doesn’t practice what they preach? Essentially they are saying to you, “do what I say, not what I do.”  Maybe it is a teacher or a pastor.  Or maybe even a close family member.  Any way you look at it, it becomes really hard to respect that type of leader.

This week on The Walking Dead, we find out that Alpha is that type of leader. The episode takes us back seven years to when Alpha first meets Beta and gives us just a little more insight into the motivations for both of these very messed up people. 

Alpha ruthlessly runs the Whisperers like a cult.  She is the sovereign leader and everyone has to give up any of their attachments in order to join.  They especially need to give up any of their loyalties to other people and they need to be willing to make the hard decision to kill (or let be killed) anyone – even family. And this is demonstrated perfectly with our new character Gamma, played perfectly by former child actress Thora Birch. She has to make the ultimate sacrifice of her own sister in allegience to Alpha.

But later in the show, we find out that Alpha doesn’t hold the same standard to herself.  Beta catches her in a special hiding place where she has kept her daughters toy rabbit.

Beta: You kept that? 

Alpha: This is for Lydia.

Beta: You said she was dead, that you killed her.

You want her back.

Alpha: You shouldn’t have come here.

Beta: Why? Why did you lie to me? She is never coming back, no matter how much you wish for it or how hard you try to replace her with someone else. She is gone, Alpha! [GROWLING.]

Alpha: No! She’s my daughter. She’s my baby. [BREATHING SHAKILY.] I could not kill her. [WHISPERING.] They can’t know. They cannot know Lydia’s alive. They cannot know. [SNIFFLES.]

Beta: They won’t.

Alpha: [VOICE BREAKING.] Lydia is dead. Lydia is dead to me. She was dead the moment she was born ’cause she was not like me.

In this chilling scene, we see how loyal Beta is to Alpha.  But what is so striking is how hypocrytical Alpha is.  Clearly they both know that she would not tolerate this same behavior from any of their followers.  So they agree to keep it quiet… for now.

But what hits me the most is how often we see leaders do this. They demand that people adhere to a standard that they themselves are not able to keep.

Jesus dealt with this plenty in his own ministry, and he is always quick to point out the hypocrisy of the religious leadership of his day.  During the last week of Jesus life, while he is in Jerusalem, He spends some of his last words in public pointing out the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.  Matthew records this in his gospel in chapter 23.

27“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:27-8 (NLT)

Of course this imagery of white washed tombs is actually quite striking (and very appropot to TWD). Jesus is basically saying that the religious leaders of His day were dead inside, just like the bright and shiny tombs outside of Jerusalem.  He is saying that these religious leaders may look great on the outside, but inside they are filled with all of the greed, hypocrisy and sin that they are so quick to point out in others.

If you pay attention to the gospels, you will notice that Jesus does this a lot.  And you will also notice that he holds those who teach to a higher standard than others.  He basically is saying that none of these guys are fooling God.

And if you think about it, they preach that God knows our hearts, but then they act as if God can’t see inside their own hearts.  Basically, they are showing that they don’t actually believe that God sees their own hearts.  I actually think that Jesus is saying that they don’t believe in God. And so Jesus usually says in these types of passages that they have already received their reward (the praise of people) in full.

If there is one message in the gospels that I think is crystal clear, it is don’t try and fool God.  It is stupid and very serious.  Essentially, that is what religious hypocrisy is.

As a pastor and a parent, I have to be careful to never do this.  It is true that I am saved by the grace of God, but I also have a responsibility to actually practice what I preach.  Of course, I am a preacher, so this is expecially related to me.  But I think that we all need to take Jesus’ warning very seriously in our lives.  We need to remember that God does know our every thought and we need to be very honest with ourselves and with God as to the condition of our hearts.

SEASON 10, EPISODE 2 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1) At the end of last weeks episode (and this weeks episode) we see Carol and Alpha staring at each other across a canyon.  What do you think each of them are thinking?

2) Do you think that Alpha is disturbed by what Carol may know about her (especially from Lydia)? Why or why not?

3) Why do you think that Beta tells Alpha that he won’t tell anyone about her hypocrisy?

4) When we expect others to act differently than we act, what does that do to our relationships with people?

5) Does hypocrisy always involve deceiving other people? Why or why not?

6) Does hypocricy also involve deceiving ourselves? In what ways?

7) Do you think that Jesus’ warnings were just for teachers of the law and Pharisees, or do you think what he was talking about was more universal? Why or why not?

8) Do you need to examine your heart and ask the very real question as to whether there may be some hypocrisy in your life?

Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.

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Season 10, Episode 1, Lines We Cross

By Thom McKee

Have you ever felt like your life just no longer has purpose or meaning?

Maybe you have a job that you hate. Or maybe you are having a difficult time in a friendship, relationship or marriage. Perhaps you just have a hard time finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning. 

This week on The Walking Dead, it seems like many of the characters are struggling with finding purpose in life (I might even argue that the writers of The Walking Dead might be struggling with finding purpose for the show). Despite the awesome training sequence at the beginning of the show, most of the season ten pilot was about

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Season 9, Episode 16, The Storm

By Thom McKee

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you lost all hope? Or worse, have you ever felt like life would be easier for everyone else if you just weren’t around anymore? These are the situations in life where we need wise people around us to give us perspective. Hopefully, when we feel this way we are surrounded by the right people, because let’s face it, we all need hope. And sometimes hope just seems so far away.

Tonight, Lydia is feeling extremely hopeless. She feels responsible for the deaths of so many of her new friends, including Henry, the first person who has really shown her love in a long time (if ever). She is also feeling guilty for

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Season 9, Episode 15, The Calm Before

By Thom McKee

Have you ever been confronted about something, by someone who is guilty of the same thing? My guess is that most of you have had this happen to you. Often the person who accuses you of something, may actually struggle with that very same thing, and they don’t even realize it.  Or even worse, they may know that they struggle with the same thing, they just don’t know that others realize it.  In psychology that is called “projection” and I have seen my share of it in life.  It is also extremely frustrating, especially if there is some truth to what they are saying

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Season 9, Episode 14, Scars

By Thom McKee

Have you ever been betrayed in a way that makes it difficult for you to trust anyone?  And if you have been in a place where you don’t trust, has it been hard to take risks with other people?

If you answered yes to these questions, you aren’t alone. Nothing erodes trust like betrayal. And, when you have a hard time trusting people, it is very hard to have healthy relationships with people. It is also hard to take chances, because you always fear that betrayal will happen again

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Season 9, Episode 13, Chokepoint

By Thom McKee

Is violence the only way to solve problems?  If you are a parent, you have inevitably had to deal with this. But let’s face it, if you are a human being you have had to deal with this too.

Recently my 13-year-old son asked me about how to deal with a situation with a bully. Now, I must say that most of his friends’ parents have given him different advice than I did. Most of his friends have been told to just hit the bully as hard as you can and they will leave you alone. I will even admit that sometimes that advice works. But that is not the advice that I gave my son. What I told him to do was to

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Season 9, Episode 12, Guardians

By Thom McKee

Have you ever had a friend say something to your face, that you found out later was a blatant lie. I am not talking about omissions (which are also lies). I am talking about when person intentionally tries to deceive you. What does that do to the relationship?

In my experience, nothing kills relationships faster than lies. I believe that this is because relationships are built on trust… and nothing kills trust more than deception.

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Season 9, Episode 11, Bounty

By Thom McKee

Are there things that you have done that you just couldn’t live with? Maybe you stood by and watched while someone was hurt in front of you.  Or maybe you actually hurt someone and you can’t get it out of your mind.

In my life, I know that there are plenty of these things.  But if I lived in the universe of The Walking Dead, the answer might be a little different. When danger lurks in every corner, and people aren’t always what they seem to be, you might have to make some more difficult choices than most of us have to do in our real lives. And let’s face it, probably none of us have to decide whether to trade the lives of a young abused girl in exchange for the lives of our friends

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Season 9, Episode 10, Omega

Cassady McClincy as Lydia – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

By Thom McKee

Years ago I ran into a guy who wrote The Walking Dead fan fiction. I was in mid-town Manhattan, of all places, and I got into a conversation with a guy who had written over 200 separate stories about characters from the The Walking Dead.

Now I love The Walking Dead, but I don’t love it that much.

I love watching the show, talking about the show and even writing about the show. But I can’t imagine taking the time to write 200 stories about the show that most people will never read (simply because no one can legally publish fan fiction for the masses).

As I was talking with this guy, he told me how most of

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Season 9, Episode 9, Adaptation

By Thom McKee

Have you ever stood in a place where previously you did something horrible? Maybe things have changed in your life since you were in that place, but going there brought back some vivid memories. Perhaps, unwelcome memories.

Not long ago, I was speaking to a veteran who suffers from PTSD. He told me that he had done some terrible things during wartime and that over time, the memories never faded. But things got even worse for his PTSD when he took a vacation with his family to the country where

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