I love media about zombies. I feel like the zombie craze is getting close to its last legs and I am ok with that because I don’t like zombie media because of it having been hot for the past few years. I like media about zombies because it is almost always not about the zombies. Good zombie literature and film is actually about what it means to be human. It looks at how the humans respond to the overwhelming, tide of (usually) thoughtless destruction that the zombies represent. Do our heroes maintain their humanity in the face of such fear or do they sink to subhuman. There are a few books and films that explore the possible humanity of the zombies (the movie “Fido” and the book I finished last night, “The Girl with All the Gifts“, for example), but these are still generally about the humans because the media is exploring how the humans react to the possible humanity of the zombies.
Such deep stuff for supposed horror. Some of the best theological thought comes out of fiction. To quote Alan Moore from his work V for Vendetta “Artists use lies to tell the truth.” Zombie literature is fiction but it address what is really important to us when our existence is on the line. Are we just concerned about existing , or are we concerned about things that are more important than just existing.
I believe that the Christian scripture teaches that to be human is to bear, however poorly, some semblance of the image of God (Imago Dei). I mention the Imago Dei pretty often on my blog and in the messages I deliver during Tapestry gatherings. I also preached about the Imago Dei this past week at the UWSP InterVarsity Large Group Meeting – you can listen to it here if you desire. It is kind of a big deal and I believe that we humans do the worst things when we forget to live out that image and even worse when we forget that others bear that image.. When, I read zombie literature I see discussions of the Imago Dei all over it. Christ has a great deal to offer discussions of what it means to be human. Jesus’s ideas work in the marketplace of ideas and those of us who are Christians should enter into debates concerning those ideas. Of course, we need to be focused first on living out the image and seeing the image in others.
This is why I recommend that everyone go out and read some zombie literature. Enter the discussion of what it means to be human and then consider what the old & New Testaments have to say about the subject that relates to the discussion that is going on all around us. So go out and read some now. May I suggest Robert Matheson’s “I Am Legend” as a starting point? It is a great work on thinking you are the hero only to find out that you are actually the boogeyman.