A Mystical Commentary on “The Bells” in HBO’s Game of Thrones: The World is on Fire and Humanity is Dying!

Many people don’t like the way that HBO’s television drama Game of Thrones is turning out. Is there a deeper moral here?

There is a petition going on from fans of HBO’s television drama Game of Thrones who do not like the way the final Season 8 is turning out, especially after last week’s penultimate episode, “The Bells.” The petition is now over a million signatures, so the feeling seems to be quite widespread among viewers. (Spoilers below.)

They claim that the writers were incompetent, that they rushed things, that it is inconsistent, etc. Might those be excuses, a scapegoat, for a deeper reason they don’t like it? What if their anger of the way the show is turning out is because it is a reflection of themselves—ourselves? Our world?

The author of the petition says, “There is so much awful crap going on in the world, people like me need to escape into things like Star Wars and Game of Thrones.” Maybe that’s exactly why there is so much awful crap going down in the ending of this show, and perhaps not even in the story itself, but even in the making of the show. It is perhaps a narrative and its making a meta-narrative of the world we live in. Are we looking in a mirror, and we don’t like what we see?

We think this show is bad? Adolf Hitler said in 1922:

Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows… as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.

-Adolf Hitler, Statement to Josef Heil, 1922 quoted in Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution, pg. 17

What Hitler really hated was the darkness in himself, but he couldn’t see that darkness, there was no mirror on his wall to reveal this darkness in him, to him, and so he projected his hatred onto the Jews. “They” were the dark evil despicable ones that had to be annihilated. Hitler? Oh, no. He was the good one, the one who was right, or so he thought.

And, of course, Daenerys did the same in Game of Thrones. She was blinded by her thirst for total absolute power and control, the throne. She would ascend on her dragon to the heights of the clouds, making herself like the Most High, and surely she would do it, come hell or high water (Isa. 14:14). She preferred the hellfire. But instead, she was brought down beyond the realm of the undead, beyond even the Night King’s evil, beyond Evil itself, to the sides of the pit (Isa. 14:15).

She could not see her own darkness, her own evil, in herself. She refused to see it, even when everyone in the world was trying to show her it. And so what does she do? She goes and kills everyone in the world, because “they” are the problem, “they” are total evil, not her. Oh no, not me, not sweet Daenerys Targaryen. I am the only good one here, I am the only righteous one, only I am the Savior. Oh, how you have fallen Daenerys, cast down, who once ruled the nations (Isa. 14:12).


Meta? Mara?

Of the show, of the world, and perhaps of ourselves, if we hate the show, if we hate our world?

That which we hate, we perhaps really hate in ourselves.

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.

-Anaïs Nin
-Stephen R. Covey
-Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani
-Sydney Smith
-Henrik Scharling
-Immanuel Kant?
-G. T. W. Patrick
-an instructor of elocution at Harvard College
-H. M. Tomlinson
-Napoleon Hill?
(Thanks to the research from the folks over at Quote Investigator.)

Could it be that we don’t like what we see in Game of Thrones because it is an almost perfect reflection of ourselves? Is it that mirror on the wall? Is it showing us what we are, ourselves, our egos, our darkness, our ugliness, our imperfection, the state of our world, and we don’t like what we see? Do we refuse to see it? Maybe it is a perfect reflection of what is going on in our world today, where despots are ruling, where the whole Earth itself is burning down in flames, and we refuse to acknowledge it?

Maybe Bill Nye sees it. Is Bill Nye our Varys? He was our science guy, our scientific Mr. Rogers, our hero when we were kids, who is now dropping F-bombs on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver about the crisis of climate change, who seems to be scrambling to send ravens left and right. The Earth is on fire folks! Why can’t anyone see it? Wake up!

Maybe Nye just needs to say, as Varys, “I hope I’m wrong”?


And just in case we think Bill Nye is exaggerating, or is quite mistaken, here are a few more quotes from spiritual giants today, even prophets:

The earth is our home, and our home is on fire.

-Lhamo Thondup, the 14th Dalai Lama, in the book Ecology, Ethics, and Interdependence: the Dalai Lama in Conversation with Leading Thinkers on Climate Change, discussed in an article on Tricycle here

We are raping the planet we all live on.

-Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar, mystic, and priest, March 28, 2019, at the Universal Christ Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico (my own notes)

The empire is crucifying the Body of Christ (Mother Earth).

-Jacqui Lewis, Reverend, activist, preacher, March 29, 2019, at the Universal Christ Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico (my own notes)

All civilisations are impermanent and must come to an end one day. But if we continue on our current course, there’s no doubt that our civilisation will be destroyed sooner than we think. The Earth may need millions of years to heal, to retrieve her balance and restore her beauty. She will be able to recover, but we humans and many other species will disappear, until the Earth can generate conditions to bring us forth again in new forms. Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, statement delivered to the UN prior to the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, here are some of my other thoughts on this statement.

Yes, art is subjective, so people are free to think what they will about these things. But perhaps that is the very reason such art is so important; it reveals the subject—our self. Maybe this art of Game of Thrones is telling us more about ourselves than we want to hear.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

-Thomas Merton

Is this art helping us find ourselves? Or will we continue to lose ourselves? Maybe it’s time that we grow up, as Nye says.

Maybe Daenerys is us.

Maybe that dragon is us.


We prefer happy endings, hopeful endings, endings which are redemptive, showing us that people can change.

Of course, in Christianity the ending of Jesus’ life was not very happy, but was unconscionable, for it seems that God “Himself” was violently put to death, crucified in a bloody tortuous evil hopelessly cruel way. Nietzsche’s God was dead! The horror! And that’s how Mark’s gospel may have originally ended, with the women fleeing an empty tomb in abject terror in Mark 16:8, the last words of the gospel being simply “for they were afraid.”

But there is the hope of resurrection morning that followed “three days” later, and of the hope of new life in Christ, the story of which was perhaps poetically only later added to the last chapter of Mark.

Perhaps there is a hopeful ending here in Game of Thrones too, if we look for it.

Perhaps there is a hopeful ending for our world too, if we add it to the end of our story.

Perhaps we are it.

Yes, maybe we are That too. Tat Tvam Asi.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
-the Buddha

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