Lori’s Light

{TWD Spoiler Alert}

A confession: I think about who should be shipping who on TWD because, y’all — for real, there is *not* enough sex in the zombie apocalypse. But, because I am the PopCulturePreacher, I also spend plenty of time wondering, “What was Maggie saying during the prayer in Alexandria’s garage chapel?” and “Why is Father Gabriel such a crappy priest?” and so on.  That’s why I’m launching this mini-series, “Faith Journeys: TWD Characters” here on the blog.

It’s fan-fiction for churchnerds.

Each installment will explore what I imagine to be the religious history of a TWD character based on my professional experience as a clergyperson and personal experience as a progressive Christian. You may have another take.  Do comment!  Let’s talk.  (Don’t be a troll. Jesus loves you, but if you are a jackass, I’ll ban you.)

Lori Grimes…complicated, conflicted Lori Grimes. Sarah Wayne Callies plays her with such conviction. Just watch her eyes when Rick confesses to killing Shane (S 2, Ep 16). Masterful.

Lots of clues pop up in Lori’s story line about her religious history. Here’s what we know: Rick, Lori, and Shane grew up together in 1970s/80s small town Georgia. According to Gallup, only 7% of Americans claimed no religious preference in 1978 (Gallup Poll: Religion). Odds are, Lori grew up in a religious household. Currently, residents of the Peach Tree State claim some brand of Baptist (hello, Jimmy Carter), followed by Methodists, followed by the ambiguous category of “other Christian,” followed by Roman Catholics.  So which might she be? Lori never struck me as Catholic. I grew up Protestant in a Catholic town. Catholicism is as much about religion as it is about culture. When the zombie apocalypse hits, even if you haven’t been a practicing Catholic for most of adulthood, the rote nature of the liturgy still lives in your bones; it would rise to the surface. We see none of that in Lori, nor do we see any Baptist leanings.

Odds are Lori grew up in a big Methodist church where, I imagine, her daddy was a deacon and her momma headed up mission projects for United Methodist Women because Lori comes across as the kind of person who grew up in a house where “being someone” in the community mattered. Participation mattered and so did appearance. Think about what she’s wearing to pick Carl up from school (S 2, Ep 2). Fancy! I just want to pull her aside and say, “Really, it’s ok to just wear yoga pants, Lori. Be lazy like the rest of us. Dial it down…” But I digress.

In this vein of keeping up appearances, I imagine she and Rick had a big church wedding and her daddy walked her down the aisle. Perhaps her colors, like another Georgia girl we know, were also “blush and bashful.” Lori would have been content to continue to go to church, following in her momma’s footsteps: to see and be seen on Sunday morning, and to serve, too. But, at Rick’s prompting, I do believe, they stopped going – we’ll explore that in the next post.  And so, they became “the kind of family that had pancakes on Sunday morning.”

Lori ceased participating in organized religion, but continued her private practice of faith. At the CDC, she sends Carl off to bed and tells him to say his prayers.  She sits with Carol as Carol prays for her lost little girl. I suspect Lori is praying, too. The world fell apart long before the dead started roaming the streets: her marriage was a mess, then her husband was shot in the line of duty. Rick’s dead, then he’s not dead. She’s with Shane, then she’s not with Shane.  Rick’s back, then he’s gone. They’re together, but they’re not really together.  Geez, I hope she’s praying.  Because even without the zombies, Lori’s life is one whiplash inducing disaster after another.

Remarkably, though, she leaves this world filled with light. Lori had every reason to rain verbal garbage down on Carl in her last soliloquy, but she imbues him with love. Perhaps that’s the greatest clue to the faith journey of Lori Grimes. We can see that her life has been built on hope, because in in end, that’s what she passes on.  She says, “…You are smart, and you are strong, and you are brave. And I love you.  You gotta do what’s right….It’s so easy to do the wrong thing…don’t let the world spoil you…” I love it — it’s like the line from the Gospel of John, “…you do not belong to the world…” and the line from Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” all rolled into one. Lori knows that life is beautiful and ugly, filled with moments that make your heart sing and moments that wreck your soul – she’s lived both. And yet, in the end, she lays her life down with conviction and courage, love and light, help and hope.

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