Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Warming Up to Zombies

Last October, near Halloween, for High School Group we had a Zombie Night. And the internet being what it is, led to a woman not a part of our church hearing about that night. She sent a letter to the church expressing her grave concern that we were exposing our youth to such a wicked concept as zombies.

Of course, it would be difficult to have any contact with contemporary culture without exposure to zombies. The novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies spent many weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. The Walking Dead is one of the rare cable programs that beats the networks in its time slot in the ratings. One of the prominent movie trailers during the Super Bowl this year was for the Brad Pitt epic World War Z”. Even the Emergency Broadcast System recently got into the trend recently when hackers managed to broadcast a bogus warning of a zombie attack in Great Falls, Montana.

Of course, one can try to escape the culture all together. But I don’t think that’s an option Jesus left for us when He told us to go into all the world and make disciples.

Besides, I think zombies have many spiritual lessons to teach us. Really. The recent zombie romantic comedy (or zom-com), Warm Bodies (directed and adapted for the screen by Jonathan Levine) is a case in point. Here are three quite Biblical lessons I got out of the film.

1) The Danger of Obliviousness: In the film, our zombie hero (you read that right), R, laments that his zombie culture is self absorbed and unconcerned about the world and other living things. His territory is an old airport where some zombies mindlessly mimic their old jobs (such as a janitor and a wand waving security officer) but most zombies wander aimlessly. The audience is then treated to a flashback to pre-zombie days, when the passers-by, absorbed in their electronic devices or nothing at all, seemed just as mindless as the zombies. A.W. Tozer, in his spiritual devotional, Knowledge of the Holy made a similar point: “Secularism, materialism and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies.”

2) Controlled by Hunger: R also hates how he cannot help but being driven by his desire for human flesh. (This is a zombie movie after all, and there are disturbing scenes of the undead… um…dining.) Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2:3: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.”

3) The Dead Come to Life Again: Most zombie movies portray the dead coming “alive” again, or at least walking about. But they’re not really alive. Warm Bodies is a little different, in its basic premise that the dead really come to life again. R is the first to do so when romantic love starts his heart beating again. Awkwardly, he falls in love with one of the living. (The Romeo and Juliet echoes are intentional, including a balcony scene, with zombies and the living taking the place of the Monagues and Capulets.) Then friendship and trust jumpstart the hearts of other zombies. I couldn’t help but think other words of Paul from that same chapter in Ephesians: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…but because of his great love for us, God,…made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.”

We already live in a world of zombies. We need to let God use us to awaken our fellow walking dead with His loving grace.

(Warm Bodies is rated PG-13 for violence, gore and language.)

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