Zombies need the gospel too

I have no explanation for this excerpt other than the possibility that Mary put something in my dinner last night. I was working on a section focusing on the idea that we’re all dead in our sins, but we often try to hide from that fact through various “shalom restoration projects” that only serve to mimic life without really making us alive. So, I sat down to write an introduction to that section and this is what came out.

Dead is dead. There is no mostly dead, sort of dead, or the “I’ll be better in the morning if you’ll please just hand me my head and that stapler over there” kind of dead. Dead people are just dead. Unless they’re zombies. Or, mummies. But I like zombies. They dress better.

Actually, if you think about it, zombies don’t have it all that bad. They can’t die, since they’re already dead. Apparently they can walk in a slow shuffle as fast as a normal human can run terrified down a dark alley. And, if they really get backed into a corner, they can tear off their own arm and beat people with it. How cool is that?

But, of course, in the end, they’re still dead.

They could try to act like living human beings. Put on fresh clothes. Invest in a small makeup company. Figure out some way to keep their rotting flesh from falling into their coffee all the time. With enough work, they might be able to blend in, become part of the community, part of the human family. Maybe they already have.

Very carefully, look at the person next to you. But don’t let them see you looking. Zombies are sensitive. Are you sure he or she is not a zombie? How could you tell? Maybe they’re just really good at acting like a human. Maybe they’re simply waiting for the zombie overlord to give the command for the zombie apocalypse to begin so they can take over the world. (What? It could happen.) How can you tell the difference between a regular human and a zombie in a suit?

For that matter, I wonder if it’s possible for a zombie to deceive itself. If a zombie spends enough time pretending to be human, can it actually forget that it’s really dead? (There’s an idea for a blockbuster movie lurking in there somewhere.) Which, of course, raises the question, what if you’re a zombie and you just don’t know it?

From there I’d go into a discussion of the fact that without Christ we really are zombies. In other words, we’re dead even though we’re doing our best to look like we’re really alive. And we do all sorts of things to hide the fact that we’re really dead. But in the end, dead is dead.

What do you think? Is the zombie approach too much? I had fun writing it, but it didn’t resonate with Mary. Then I made the mistake of telling her that this might mean that she’s not really in my target audience, which she took to mean that I was saying she was too old. Things went downhill from there.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on June 9, 2010, in Sin and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I don’t think it’s too much. In fact I recently read Kim Paffenroth’s Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2006) and loved it. The intersection of zombies and religion is good stuff. You might like to check out Paffenroth’s book. In fact, he just posted something on “Zombies and Religion” on his blog yesterday.

  2. It works. Well, in fact. Keep it up!

    But refrain from incendiary remarks to your wife. You’ll quickly experience a zombie existence if that keeps up! 🙂

  3. Thanks Nick! The point of my book has a lot of overlap with MArc’s post: zombies ARE human – that’s why we’re scared to be bitten and become one, as they just reveal our most base, simple desires. Since GOTLD, I’ve also written some zombie fiction that tries to illustrate some of those points as well. Thanks again! – KP

    • Hey, I just read the post that Nick mentioned and it was very interesting. I hadn’t realized that I was tapping into an issue that you’d been exploring for a while. I’ll have to check out some of your other work.

  4. As they say here, “that’s totally bril!” (which I assume to mean “totally brilliant”). It resonates with me. I think its evocative, memorable, and the more I think about it, the more I think it works well as an analogy.

    • Thanks Ben, that’s encouraging. And, I learned a new British term. I didn’t run across that one in Scotland. Now I can use it and sound all European.

  5. Of course your statement, “there is no mostly dead” clearly defies the canon of The Princess Bride. There would have been no happy ending save for the fact he was only mostly dead. also you are tapping into the zombie craze right now such as the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I can just see it now – Paul, Baranabbas and a Zombie head out on their first missionary journey. if you don’t believe the gospel, then he will suck out your brains. Now that is a gospel presentation.

  6. u know…i use the zombie analogy a lot… i mean…zombies walk around and eat and yet in all that they are still dead…its a perfect example of bein dead in trespasses and sins…

    i really enjoyed ur blog…thx fa postin… -g-

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