(RNS) He is risen!
That will be the perennial declaration of faith and hope shared by countless Christians next Easter, as it has been every spring for nearly two millennia.
But what do you want to bet that the media buzz on resurrection themes next April will be all about Jon Snow coming back from the dead — or not — in Season 6 of the HBO mega-hit “Game of Thrones”?
If the reaction to the promotional art for the next season that was released on Monday (Nov. 23) is any gauge, then the odds are high that Snow will get most of the attention.
A profile of a seemingly alive Snow fills the new poster. But he’s still bloodied — what’s up with that? Is he back from the dead, or some kind of zombie? “Thrones” has plenty of those, actually more than plenty. (Looking at you, White Walkers.)
Cue the fervid speculation, which should be none too surprising.
When the heroic (and hunky) Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was fragged by his fellow men of the Wall on the season finale last June, “Game of Thrones” fans responded with a mixture of outrage and resignation — outrage because the creators of the medieval-ish fantasy drama (and the author of the books they are based on, George R.R. Martin) had once again ruthlessly killed off another great character, and one of the dwindling number of sympathetic figures that fans could actually root for.
Resignation because, well, it seems everyone dies in “Game of Thrones,” and usually badly.
As the joke goes: “Why isn’t George R.R. Martin on Twitter? Because he already killed all 140 characters.”
Yet the blood stains on the snow around Snow’s “corpse” were still spreading when devotees started spinning seemingly self-justifying theories about how the periodic magic and sorcery of the show could perhaps be manipulated to bring their beloved Jon back to life.
Now, the Internet is frothing with hype: Will he be back?
A bigger question may be: What will it mean if he does return?
For Christians, Jesus is resurrected to point the way to new life, to conversion in this fallen world toward perfection and paradise in the next.
In pop culture these days, nobody seems to stay dead for long.
Sure, the ABC series “Resurrection,” about people turning up again years later at the same age they died, got cancelled last May after two seasons. But AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is going strong, and zombies and various other “un-dead” types populate the big and small screens.
Moreover, speculation is already rife about who may reappear in the new Star Wars installment, “The Force Awakens.” Indeed, no one is really sure if all those wise Jedi knights were dead all along, or whether they stay dead when they finally get zapped.
So, Jon Snow?
The brutality of the show, and the apparent senselessness of the violence, had already raised questions about whether it was a good idea for Christians to watch “Game of Thrones.”
Maybe Season Six will prompt another, related debate: Will Jon Snow be just another zombie? Or will he be a Jesus-like messianic figure for a secular Easter, back from the tomb to rescue these warring kingdoms from themselves — and maybe point to some sort of ending for a series of shows and books that some fear may never find a way to wrap up.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, HBO released the first trailer for the new season and it prominently features … yes, Jon Snow. But dead or alive? An older man’s voice intones:
“We watch. We listen. And we remember … The past is already written. The ink is dry.”
But the blood, maybe not so much, as the graphic images (and sounds) show.
And then a younger male voice breaks in — Bran Stark back with his mystical powers?
“They have no idea what’s going to happen.”
No, we don’t have a clue. But we live in hope. Watch: