The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.
Worldview Perspective Review
First, I want to note what I’m doing in these reviews before diving in. I am not planning on this being a review of the content of the show. There’s violence, at least partial nudity, implied sex (possibly more in later episodes, I write this having seen episodes 1-3), and some language. I am not at all interested in the debate of what people should or should not be watching. I’m not interested in debating whether certain shows can or should be watched, nor will I engage in such. Beyond that, I’ll not comment further on content unless I find it especially bothersome.
Instead, these reviews are intended to be used with the assumption the show is being watched, and engaging it from a worldview perspective. What I mean to do, then, is see where the connections–and disconnections–can be made from that view. I will be posting reviews of the episodes, again, on my other site, Eclectic Theist.
“Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and, “A Place of Safety”
I’m lumping these episodes together because they released the same day and I just sat and watched them all together so separating them in my mind is going to be too difficult. Besides, I suspect many others did the same! So here goes. Obviously, SPOILERS follow.
Reincarnation is a theme found in the series of novels, and I remember it being somewhat explicit. In the first episode, “Leavetaking,” Rand al’Thor and his father, Tham, discuss a couple times the notion of reincarnation. It’s clearly seen by Tham as a basis for his ethics, as he says that all people can do with this life we have is the best that we can do. The central driver of the plot of the whole series involves the notion of reincarnation, as the prophecy Moiraine Sedai is seeking is the rebirth of the Dragon, the most powerful magical user in history.
Reincarnation is one of the major ways religions worldwide view life after death. Christian theology does not hold to reincarnation, and teaches a linear view of human embodiment: birth, life, death, judgment, afterlife. Obviously, there’s some debate over each of these stages and what is involved/when it might happen, but there doesn’t seem to be space for a cyclical view of time or things like reincarnation there. Not really surprising.
What makes this discussion interesting from The Wheel of Time, though, is how the show played off the ethics built into the system. Ethics for Tham, for example, are constructed because of reincarnation, not in spite of them. You are to do what you can with what you’re given. It’s a kind of fatalistic view of the world which veers away from some kinds of absolute imperatives. I’m wondering if this will be developed more in the series.
Another central theme of the series and these episodes is that of prophecy. Prophecy in The Wheel of Time is often difficult to discern, and we don’t get a lot of explanation in these episodes. Similarly, prophecies found in the Bible have led to much debate among Christians. Prophecy in the show seems ensured through the cyclical view of time. Someone, writing thousands of years ago in a different cycle, could essentially write about current events, and another person could read that and predict that certain major events would occur again, thus making a kind of prophecy. For a Christian worldview, prophecy is not bound to a specific way time works. Rather, it is inspired by God, a kind of direct revelation through mediation.
The series of books makes much of The Pattern–the way time flows, the way it is woven, etc. There are a few mentions of the Pattern so far, but it’s unclear exactly what they mean or how they come into play so far. I’ll be interested to see if the Pattern acts as a kind of way that some vague deity interacts in the world, as hints are found in the books.
War and Peace
A few comments were made about war throughout these episodes discuss war. The Tinkers show up at the end of the third episode, and they’re well known as pacifists from the books. I wonder if they will be again here. Another several comments about the uselessness of war are found here and there throughout. War and peace are major themes in the books, and I suspect we’ll find some of that here, too. Christians look forward to the day when there will be no more war, and all weapons will be beaten into plowshares, as they are no longer needed.
There is plenty more we could discuss from these episodes, and I look forward to reading your own thoughts in the comments below!
The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).
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