The Zombie Apocalypse
In Night of the Living Dead, Ben, the central character, is committed to cooperation and trust, even among total strangers. As those around him succumb to denial, cowardice, stupidity, and guilt, he works to rally and inspire, to protect his companions and try to get to safety. In a dark film, Ben represents active hope. As we watch, we long for a satisfying level of self-sufficiency, for friends that we could trust our life with, for a sense of clear purpose, however bleak that might be. At its best moments, the zombie apocalypse offers that to us.
Christians, of course, can find many familiar images here. With a little allegorical stretching, we can talk about the church as a community of the risen dead, of zombie cannibalism as a perverted Eucharist, of the church's perilous existence as a community out of place in the world as analogous to the band of survivors in a good zombie flick. But we don't need to dig very far at all to find deep meaning in the zombie myths of our culture. Really, the films are about us, about all of us, in this time and place in history, and about our hopes and fears. And those truths, while hard to swallow, give us a whole lot to chew on.
Paul Pastor is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax Group and Global Publishing at Christianity Today.