LEFTOVERS-tmagArticle-v2The first few minutes of this week’s episode of The Leftovers were difficult to watch. Gladys, a member of the Guilty Remnant, was executed by an unknown group of assailants. The explicit murder caught the eyes of many. Watching this committed woman break her vow of silence caught the ears of many. It was the method used by the killers that caught my attention. I don’t recall very many deaths in pop culture media resulting from a stoning.

Though still occasionally used in less progressive parts of the world, watching a group stone a woman on American soil was a striking image to me. I examine The Leftovers through the lens of faith. So I cannot ignore the fact that this method of punishment is measured out from time to time in the Bible. To be accurate, it’s a punishment urged for certain sins in the scriptures – to be used on both humans and animals. If I’m completely honest, that makes me pretty uncomfortable and unsure of how to process that information.

A Bible scholar once told me that when the family of someone murdered in Old Testament times requested the death penalty for the killer of their loved one, they were also required to participate in the stoning of that individual. I’m guessing that cut down on the number of stoning requests. Mentioning this concept begs the question, was Dean correct about the GR being responsible for the murder? Was Gladys’s “family” responsible for her murder. The GR claims that there are no longer any families but they certainly act as one. But back to the concept of stoning someone to death…

I make the lethal distinction because Acts 14 speaks of Paul being stoned but not dying as a result. One of the most compelling examples of stoning in the scriptures takes place late in the book of Acts when Stephen becomes the first martyr for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus. His method of execution – stoning by the Sanhedrin. The story of Stephen is of note because his death reinvigorates the cause of Christianity in certain areas. So much so that Paul later references it, letting us know the story had made it’s way to him.

Is it possible that Gladys has been martyred for the cause of the GR? The episode opens with Gladys sitting in their offices. There are tears in her eyes. Is this a scene that is later referenced showing when Gladys’s son was killed? Or has Gladys just learned that she will be offered up as a living sacrifice?

Will the cause of the GR be reinvigorated with Gladys’s death? Is this what their leadership has planned all along? Will their ranks instead scatter to the wind? Stoning someone makes a statement. It’s far from the subtlest way to kill someone. I look forward to seeing exactly why that statement was made and who takes credit for making it – if anyone does.