It’s the Kobayashi Maru All Over Again

Last night was the long-awaited season premiere for The Walking Dead that answered the question: Who was Negan going to kill? I won’t include any spoilers here, because I know there are probably some readers out there who haven’t seen the episode yet, and I hate it when that happens to me. But on top of several surprises, I found myself severely depressed at the end of the episode. If you saw the one leading up to this one, the writers went out of their way to force the characters into a situation where they had no choices and no hope. All they could do was what they ended up doing. Which ended up with, well, I can’t tell you. But it was bad.

indexSwitch gears on a related subject. A while back someone asked if there could be such a thing as Christian horror. I have asked a lot about Christian science fiction, which I truly believe in, and I see lots of examples of Christian fantasy out there, but I have come to the conclusion that Christian horror is an oxymoron. Why? Because horror is based on hopelessness, the idea that the character and thus the reader who is identifying with him/her is subject to the whims of the villain. On the other hand, Christianity and Christian literature is the essence of hope. When the world is falling apart around us, that’s the edge that Christians have: we believe that God is still in control.

Star Trek’s famous Kobayashi Maru test was the No Win Scenario, a test designed to find out what would-be captains would do in the face of guaranteed defeat. James T. Kirk, the future captain of the Enterprise, was famous for being the only cadet to defeat the No Win Scenario, in his situation by hacking the program so that it was possible. A No Win Scenario in my mind is consistent with what I saw on the Walking Dead, and a more and more prevalent attitude or philosophy one sees in society today: nihilism.

Hopelessness. Let’s just be honest with each other. There’s no hope. We have no future. We have nothing to live for. You hear it in modern music. You see it in movies and TV. And as time goes on, I believe it will become more and more common.

When I was studying for my PhD, I was required to read a book that essentially said, “No thinking person today would seriously believe that God exists.” At the time, that comment made me mad. I consider myself a thinking man, and further, I think I would go insane if I didn’t believe there was a God and a future beyond the few years we have here on earth.

I don’t believe in the No Win Scenario. I guess Jim Kirk and I have that in common.