|A gross misunderstanding of who Jesus is.|
Why are Zombies so frightening? Well, for starters, they look just like us. Perhaps, even, we see in them a reflection of our own dark natures: creatures capable of unspeakable horrors committed against members of the human family. It is not surprising to me that in the wake of the Shoah we see George Romero's classic film and the genre it spawned: these are, or were, human beings actually feasting on the flesh of others, those who would appear to be human taken by a dark force that leads them to commit atrocities against the innocent. There is something paralyzing about the idea of mindless, unfeeling, ravenous killers marching across hill and valley, breaking in doors and smashing windows, seeking only our death and destruction.
As a zombie-film aficionado, I often encounter the chillingly touching scene when a young woman encounters a former beau-turned-zombie. At first, she recognizes her boyfriend as he stumbles toward her. Vain hope, rather than sound reason, compels her to stay put and keep calling out his name until, well, it's too late: the boyfriend's new idea of 'necking' is to bite into her carotid artery and tear out her throat! Her recognition of who he truly is comes too late, leading her toward her own journey of un-death.
The Zombie shows us one side, or one shape, of death. This is the side of hopelessness, of human life succumbing to a darkness that, quite literally, feeds on human life. It is death that truly governs human life and death's heralds arise from the grave to remind us of the meaninglessness of our existence. The monster comes not from another planet, but from our own and that monster is us. Inside each of us, the Zombie seems to say, is a gnawing hunger for more death. Death begets death and, as people fall prey to the zombie, they join ranks...begetting more death. With each new victim, death's grip on humanity grows stronger and stronger. Why fight it? Why bar your windows and seal your doors? For, after all, death is going to triumph. Join in the Feast Of Flesh, either eat or be eaten...
|A Parody of the Last Supper. Interesting, isn't it, that Christ is still central for Zombies?|
Look to the Gospels scenes, especially John and Luke. In the Garden, Mary of Magdala does not recognize Jesus at all even though he stands before her; in Luke, on the Road to Emmaus, the disciples walk with the Risen Lord but do not realize who it is. It is only after he reveals himself to them that they are brought to a new understanding, a new life of mission. Whereas an encounter with a horde of zombies drives women and men into seclusion, barring the doors and praying for life, the encounter with Jesus Christ impels them out of hiding into a world where they preach the Good News as they face death. While zombies bring to the forefront of the mind the reality of death, Jesus affirms the preeminence of life.
|The inversion of the Zombie Myth: The Risen Christ|
Jesus and Zombies touch on a central reality of human life: death. Depending on your stance, each is a parody of the other. The zombie genre mocks the idea that there is hope-through-death, is skeptical of the meaning of human life: for will not our own flesh be consumed by those who were once very much like us? The story of Jesus take the opposite tactic: death is a reality we each must face, but it is not what defines us. Life, not death, has the final word in our lives. Jesus' resurrection isn't a cosmic Zombie show. It is, rather, the final ratification of Jesus' life and ministry in and through which God shows us just who Jesus really is: the creative Word made Flesh who is defined by God's life rather than the death inflicted upon him by sinful humanity. Hope and life, and not death and despair, are the ultimate horizons of human life. In our own world that is so often beset with grim news and suffers from an ever-deepening sense of weariness, perhaps the Good News of Jesus, the anti-zombie, is what we need more than ever.