Zombie Apocalypse and the Church

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Theology and Faith
Tags: , , ,

Pop culture and media have become quite fascinated with the “apocalyptic” stories. Perhaps it is a utopia world that is suddenly thrust into chaos. Or, perhaps, it is normal life that is suddenly thrust into crisis, such as an alien invasion. Most recently, the stories have included sub-humans, zombies, bent on devouring those that remain alive and lucid. Unthinking, unfeeling, and unwavering in their one objective – to eat that which is alive.

Within this particular narrative genre, I find something far deeper being communicated about our culture and outlook on the world. The popularity of this genre gives weight to the idea that this bleak outlook on the future is shared, perhaps unwittingly, by the audience. And, apparently, there is enough of an audience to venture utilizing more capital for creating the genre’s media. The narrative being communicated and resonating with the audience is the belief that the world is eating itself and we wonder about the world on the other side of the catastrophe.

Zombies aren’t such a far-fetched vision of the imagination. In many ways our world devours itself and others. One need only be reminded that the 20th century was the bloodiest and most violent century on record. It doesn’t look like the pace is lessening. Not to mention, the vast numbers of people that die due to preventable diseases, lack of clean water sources, and malnutrition. Sometimes these are caused by greed and hoarding of essential resources by the powerful and rich at the expense of the poor and needy. These are only a few of the examples that give us a sense that we are devouring one another. Plus, it’s such a large issue that it feels overwhelming, like a zombie horde surrounding the vacant building we’re holed up in for refuge.

Unfortunately, the Church hasn’t escaped this cannibalism of its own. Our political extremism and unbending fundamentalism have created a potent mixture of fear, anger, and violence, along with a moral superiority complex that rigidly defends its position but is unable (unwilling?) to be challenged on its own positions. This concoction has rendered a militant religion that brow beats any opposition by utilizing methods of scapegoating, shaming, and slander. It’s not about “faith seeking understanding.”

Many in the Church have also felt this fascination with the zombie apocalypse. For so long we imagined the zombies were outside our walls. Turns out – they’re inside the building. At some level, we’re not shocked that we’ve devoured our own, those genuinely seeking to ask hard questions and wrestle with them faithfully. But, at the same time, we are amazed that it should happen in the Church! Isn’t God the God of Truth? Isn’t all Truth God’s Truth? If so, isn’t the seeking of Truth also a seeking after God?

Zombies will eat whatever is not them, whatever is not alive. And, in the same way, we have devoured those that thought differently than us, challenged us to reconsider our positions, and called for us to wrestle with the deep questions of life. I’m not arguing we should change everything. But, we should be able to have a dialogue that allows for disagreement, tension, mystery. But, ever were we willing to crucify the prophets. Ever were we eager to prove our rightness, our righteousness, but silencing voices in the wilderness. In our zeal for being right, we devoured each other and left one another for dead.

The Lord’s Supper sits in the midst of the gathered Church. The Body and Blood of Jesus. “Come and feast. Come and dine,” he invites us. “Eat my Body, drink my blood.” Jesus is the Living Water that quenches all thirst. He is the Bread of Life that satiates our hunger. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A Feast indeed! When we gather at the Table, joined together at the Master’s feet, we no longer need devour one another. The Table is the place of hospitality where Christ calls us to dine in love together, feasting on him so that we are satisfied and need not devour one another. In this setting, faith can seek understanding without also sacrificing loving relationships with one another. At this Table, we find that it is Christ that unites us.

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