To the best of my knowledge, as I type this article my son has been turned into a zombie. His last communication with us indicated his participation in a campus event called, “Humans vs. Zombies.” This was to have been some sort of quest to avoid being captured and turned into a zombie. We have not heard from him since. What else am I to assume?
The term, “zombie,” traces its historical roots to the island of Haiti and the voodoo superstitions of the dead being revived to a trance-like state. Westerners first learned of this concept when folklore researcher, Zora Neale Hurston, documented the case of a woman thought to have been raised from the dead. Later scientists researching this culture have attributed these beliefs to both psychotic drugs and mental illness.
In popular Western culture, the idea of zombies has taken on a life of its own, (pun intended) apart from any historical link to its island roots. An entire industry of fantasy themed fiction has developed around the idea of zombies. This is first credited to the 1932 Bela Lugosi film, “White Zombie,” but the zombies of modern fiction most closely resemble those in the 1968 film, “The Night of the Living Dead.” Younger readers may be more familiar with the creatures featured in the recent movie, “I Am Legend.”
Since my son’s zombie disappearance is happening around the time of Halloween, I’m given pause to reflect once more upon our culture’s obsession with celebrating all things macabre. Why such an interest in the dead? Or, in the case of zombies, the undead?
According to the Bible, humanity’s introduction to death happens early on, near the very beginning. In Genesis 2:17, Adam is warned that “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Soon afterward his wife took and ate, as did Adam. One interesting note there is that neither of them immediately died, not in the physical sense by which most of us recognize death. In fact, Adam and his descendants lived quite long lifespans, some of them nearing one thousand years! So unless we’re prepared to call God a liar, He must have been warning of some other type of death associated with Adam’s disobedience.
Most astute Bible scholars call this type of death “spiritual death,” as defined by separation from God. Adam and Eve’s distinct spiritual connection (fellowship) with God was broken by disobedience. Soon thereafter they were removed from the Garden. The Bible doesn’t limit sin just to the first couple. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Later, Romans 5:12 tells us that just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans 6:23 summarizes our condition by proclaiming that the wages of sin is death.
Thankfully for us, further Bible study shows us that we have new life through Christ’s death and resurrection; or more specifically, through our identification with His death and resurrection. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
So this leads me to think that zombies; that is, the living dead, are nothing more than a popular perversion of a spiritual reality. The REAL “undead” are believers who were once dead to God and, through Christ, are brought to eternal life. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
I don’t usually make a big deal about Halloween. I haven’t dressed up since I was a child, but this year I have something special ready if anyone asks me what I’m dressing up as for the holiday. I plan on telling them that I’m a zombie. This should make me quite popular, until I begin to explain that is all the son’s fault. No, wait. Make that the Son.
Praying that you overflow with new life,