Fighting The Zombies That Try To Eat Your Brains
There is a type of person in this world who can have long serious discussions about what zombies represent in horror movies. “What do zombies mean?” they ask. I am one of these people.
Writing Zombie Haiku
A few years ago, I wrote a book called Zombie Haiku. It’s about a zombie who writes haiku. Normally, zombies don’t write haiku. Zombies don’t do much at all. They just sort of roam around with hopes of staggering into somebody to eat. My book is about a zombie like that, except he also updates his diary with little haiku poems. It doesn’t make sense. It has sold well.
The book was a love letter to the zombie films and fiction I had devoured over the years. I’m often asked if I did any research while writing Zombie Haiku. Nope. I just grew up liking zombies a lot. However, while writing the book, I did wrestle with the classic debate of what zombies might symbolize.
For example, when I watch a zombie movie, I’m usually thinking less Is that zombie an analogy for consumerism? and more, Stay away from that zombie! But I have enjoyed discussion afterward regarding possible themes they could represent. Zombies are blank slates that look just like us, so it is easy to see ourselves in them. Zombies symbolizing consumerism is a big connection with humans (“They devour everything in sight, but they still need more!”). Some argue zombies represent a Cold War Collectivism (“They are the unruly masses rising up against the few of us still free!”). Zombies also symbolize the fall of moral society (“Their pro-murder values are eroding our safe environment!”). Communism! Domestication! Rage! Apathy! The list goes on and on.
Zombies and Christianity
Christianity and zombie symbolism might not seem like two topics that mix well together, but just take a look at yourself now, reading an essay about zombie symbolism. Really? This is what you do with your time? Isn’t there something you’re supposed to be doing? But there you sit, like a zombie slowly decaying, wasting life staring at meaninglessness.
Just kidding, but I can definitely see a zombie version of myself whenever I stare blankly into whatever popular internet meme is able to suck time away from me, when I clearly could be better using my time elsewhere. Third world countries struggle and fight as I smile at Lolcats and videos of double rainbows.
One could definitely make a case for zombies representing the lethargic nature of many Christian Americans who don’t bat an eye toward those most in need, while spending their time (and their lives) on trivial matters such as arguing what monsters may or may not represent.
But that cuts me a little too close to the bone. There is a simple comparison to be made regarding Christianity and zombies: the walking dead. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “walking in Christ” or “walking with Christ”. What is “walking without Christ”? Jesus said that those who follow him may have life, and have it to the full. What would those who choose not to follow Jesus have?
The Walking Dead
It would be tempting to label non-Christians as the walking dead, but that isn’t the point I want to make. No matter our religious labels, we are all capable of becoming zombies. In every selfish decision, every battle for control of our lives, every instance when we allow our desires to steer us away from God’s ways, we shuffle about as aimlessly as an animated corpse. If, however, we can surrender to God and follow the good path, we rise above the death and decay that surround us.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Eph. 2:1-5)
Every decision you make today is a choice toward life or toward death. We are surrounded by zombies, and they are hungry. They leave bite marks when we struggle with consumerism. They gnaw on us when laziness sets in. I feel them chewing on me when I waste too much time browsing my life away on the internet.
Run. If you don’t move fast, you’ll become one too. Let God light your path. Keep running, and don’t look back. Don’t let the zombies eat you.
Questions for Reflection:
- What do you think zombies represent?
- When do you most feel like you’re turning into a zombie?
- Where do the zombies congregate in your life?
- How can God and your community protect you?