The Theology of Zombies

Evangelical author Andy Crouch has an eclectic, thought-provoking new blog called Culture Making, based on his award-winning book of the same name, which explores ways for Christians to engage with and transform contemporary culture through the arts. This week’s “Five Questions” feature invites reflections on “zombies as cultural artifact”:

What do zombies assume about the way the world is?

…Zombies embody our greatest fears about ourselves. Our bodies can betray us. Our minds and souls will not exist. Our bodies will survive beyond any sentient manner of control, but be subject to desires and actions alien to who we are. Once we are taken over, we will betray and hurt those we love. Even if we are not subject to any of these things, but somehow survive, life will be unbearable and a constant struggle. There is no escape because man is the ultimate predator, and there is no place that man has not or cannot be.

Of course, there are positives for survivors or consumers of the zombie genre. The enemy is clear and can be eliminated as opposed to real life. It is a symptom of a culture that feels helpless in the face of big business and big government. Even “alternative” culture gets assimilated into the mainstream, so there feels like there is no escape. “Shaun of the Dead” makes this point hilariously: there is no difference between daily life and the apocalypse. You’ll still get the paper, try to make up with your girlfriend and hang out with your friends at the local pub. The only difference is that you will not be dubbed a loser for not having a job or more lofty goals. You just need to survive.
—Sarah G. Vincent

For vampires and Christians alike, blood is the vital, life-giving force. But for zombies (and secularists) the desire is for brains and brains alone. Thus zombies seem to be expressions of a sort of cultural rationalism or materialism. The vampiric craving for blood, at least in its pre-modern origins, turns the Christian eucharist on its head. But zombies do away with blood altogether.

Therefore, zombies assume that the brain, not the blood, is what imparts meaning and life to the world. Zombies are the expression of the deepest fears of the secularized mind.

Happy (?) Halloween…

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