A Sermon Inspired by The Leftovers

A Sermon Inspired by The Leftovers

When The Leftovers first aired, I began writing an article about the show's implications on faith and spirituality. As I wrote, I realized that my thoughts kept edging further and further towards creating a sermon, mostly because I think the show is one of the most important commentaries on spirituality and living I've ever seen.

So when I was asked to give a sermon at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois – where I'm a parishioner and member of the Vestry – I knew I had to include The Leftovers. The drama means many things to many people; for me, it's a wake up call to realize that this – this life, this journey, this panoply of relationships lovely and painful – could be over any moment. So, how might we live today?

What you'll read or listen to below, "Always Leftover," was presented, of course, in a Christian context. I think all sermons should, one way or another, illuminate the Gospel reading for any particular Sunday. In this case, the reading that day was Matthew 16:21-28 Though this was written for a Christian community, I hope readers of any faith tradition (or none at all, for that matter) will discover just how deeply this show has affected me – and how I hope it might affect everyone.

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Go Behind the Scenes of 'The Prodigal Son Returns' With Director Mimi Leder

Go Behind the Scenes of 'The Prodigal Son Returns' With Director Mimi Leder

The season finale of The Leftovers is filled with turning points for the Garvey family and Mapleton as a whole. WatchingTheLeftovers.com connected with director and co-executive producer Mimi Leder to discuss Season 1's final installment. For Leder, "The Prodigal Son Returns" is about delving "deep into the characters' grief and their struggles to somehow try to come out the other end." Below, the director takes us inside specific moments from the episode.

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9 Excellent Reasons to Binge The Leftovers' 9 Episodes Before the Finale

9 Excellent Reasons to Binge The Leftovers' 9 Episodes Before the Finale

It’s time to binge on some Leftovers: On Sunday, Aug. 30, starting at noon, HBO2 will air the first nine episodes the series’ inaugural season back-to-back so that fans can re-watch or new folks can catch-up in advance of the drama’s Sept. 7 season finale. (Of course, you can binge anytime on HBO GO.)

To tee you up before the coming marathon, I assembled nine great reasons (warning: some are a tad cheeky) anyone – everyone! – should go back and watch The Leftovers’ first nine episodes again…or to binge watch and catch up on the show that’s gotten everyone else talking.

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Saint Hubertus: Holy Men, Deer and Dogs

Saint Hubertus: Holy Men, Deer and Dogs

“The Garveys at Their Best” opens with a bit of déjà vu, as Kevin is yet again face-to-face with one of the show’s most intriguing characters: a stag. We are unsure if Kevin keeps happening on the same deer resurrecting itself – or if it’s a different deer each time. Either way, there’s much we can speculate about the significance of the deer. There’s been a good deal of discussion about the role of animals in The Leftovers. What is significant and what isn’t has been debated over and again since the pilot episode. As the season has progressed, I’ve noticed a link between the deer and the dogs seen on the show. That link is Saint Hubertus.

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The 3 Abrahams in ‘Cairo’

The 3 Abrahams in ‘Cairo’

Genesis 22 tells the story of God testing Abraham. God’s test consists of Abraham taking his son, Isaac, to Mount Mariah where he is to sacrifice him and then burn his body on an altar. Abraham does as he’s instructed. He makes the journey, lays his son on the altar, and raises a knife to end Isaac’s life. But before he can bring the blade down, an angel grabs Abraham’s hand and stops him from completing the deed. The point of the story is meant to demonstrate Abraham’s commitment to God and his faith.

I saw this scene play out with three different Abrahams and three different commitments in the latest episode of The Leftovers, “Cairo.”

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3 Biblical Prophetic Warnings in ‘Guest’

3 Biblical Prophetic Warnings in ‘Guest’

I’ve already offered some theories about who could be The Leftovers’ true prophet. But what other biblical, prophetic clues were in “Guest”? Here are three big prophetic references I noticed – with a little guessing about what they could mean.

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Of Wolves and Charlatans: The Lurking Savagery of the Post-Departure World

Of Wolves and Charlatans: The Lurking Savagery of the Post-Departure World

The increasing futility and potential danger of clutching to pre-Departure symbols and institutions seems to be at the heart of The Leftovers, leaving each character in the position of establishing a new identity atop a barely concealed set of volatile, more primitive emotions. In Episode 1, Chief Garvey storms out of a pre-parade city council meeting with the warning that “Everyone’s ready to f**kin’ explode.” In Episode 2, the police department-mandated psychiatrist Kevin is ordered to see explains the presence of a blow-up penguin sitting in his office. The psychiatrist offers that, in his dealings with children, they often need an outlet toward which to redirect their aggression, so they attack the penguin. The penguin exists solely as the recipient of abuse, and the necessity of its presence suggests a lingering psychological problem in the patient – a benchmark for how much aggression still remains. The title, “Penguin one, Us Zero” suggests that the community is beginning to redirect its aggression toward the mysterious and ephemeral nature of the rapture at objects of convenience who do not fight back and who exist to be hurt. The community’s lack of acceptance for the mysteries of their universe and the rise of their latent aggression is evident in the character of Matt.

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Saint Gladys? A Theory About the G.R. Member’s Three Very Different, Very Saintly Deaths

Saint Gladys? A Theory About the G.R. Member’s Three Very Different, Very Saintly Deaths

A handful of deaths are mentioned in “Gladys.” Amy casually references crucifixion to Kevin and Jill. And to Laurie, Patti tells her: “Doubt is fire. And fire is going to burn you up until you are but ash.”

But neither of these mentions holds a candle to the actual death that Gladys experiences. Gladys’ death seems brutal enough, but a little more examination reveals that the G.R. member actually died in three different, distinct ways – all of which were iconic ways that saints died throughout history. Looking for further evidence of Gladys’ potentially saintly status? See: the moment when Kevin and Rev. Matt go to visit her “tomb” at the morgue…and it’s empty. There’s a famous Biblical story about this, too.

Is someone trying to tell us that Gladys is a saint? Here are the three deaths Gladys experiences and an accompanying saint who suffered the same fate.

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7 Intriguing Reveals (and Resulting Mysteries) on The Leftovers

7 Intriguing Reveals (and Resulting Mysteries) on The Leftovers

When 140 million people around the globe – two percent of the world’s population – suddenly disappear off the face of the planet in The Leftovers, not only are the characters left wondering what the heck is going on – we, the viewers, are too.

Questions abound: Was it the Rapture? Maybe aliens? Perhaps some secret, quantum physics, off-book government experiment gone awry?

With the series only four episodes deep, the answer to what happened is still way up in the air. Nonetheless, though, courtesy of the townsfolk of Mapleton, The Leftovers has given viewers some pretty intriguing reveals to help solve the mystery. Here are the seven disclosures I’m finding most intriguing so far. (Fair warning: Spoilers below!)

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Why Does He Persist? A Dream Analyst Interprets Matt Jamison's Dream

Why Does He Persist? A Dream Analyst Interprets Matt Jamison's Dream

Sunday's episode of The Leftovers, "Two Boats and a Helicopter," includes a dream sequence that touches upon Rev. Matt Jamison's childhood cancer diagnosis, the fire that killed his parents, the Oct. 14 car accident that left his wife in a vegetative state, and his pre-Departure sex life (complete with a surprise cameo from Laurie Garvey). What does it all mean? Dream analyst David Bedrick broke it down for HBO.com.

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