Monday, August 2, 2010

The Zombie Within

Way back in my formative days, a zombie was a 2 HD undead creature easily turned by a mid-level cleric. If you understand that sentence AND you read my blog, then either you weren’t as damaged by the experiences of your formative years as many people warned or you picked up a helm of opposite alignment somewhere along the way. Since those years, zombies have arguably seen even more success in the popular culture than even vampires (which were also undead, but much harder to turn). All those other undead (skeletons, ghouls, ghasts, ghosts, specters, wraiths, and especially liches) must be terribly envious (at least the ones that can think).

Zombies have become so popular in film that they now have their own genre. The slow-moving, dim-witted animated corpses with a hunger for brains weren’t menacing enough, so Hollywood turned them into viral monsters, sometimes with the ability to jump and climb walls (I’m thinking here of Resident Evil and I Am Legend zombies). What is common to zombie movies is the massed horde nature of the zombie attack. No matter how many you drop, they just keep coming, threatening to overrun the entire planet and wipe out the human race. Discussions abound (seriously!) on how to survive the zombie apocalypse and defeat the zombie horde.

I am a zombie…

Whoa! Put down the shotgun! I’m only speaking metaphorically. Sort of.

St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him though baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father , we too may live a new life.” You know what I’m talking about: it’s the whole death to self and life in Christ thing. The zombie part comes in when my self won’t stay dead. Just like the worst of the horror movie villains (Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers – take your pick) I just won’t stay dead.

Every time I think I’ve finally put a stake through the heart of my selfish desires (I know, the stake through the heart isn’t zombies, it’s vampires) and can live happily every after as a good Christian, the beast that is me comes roaring back to life. I have discovered that the second rule of zombie combat is iterative. For the uninitiated, the second rule is double tap: if you shoot the monster, and it falls apparently dead at your feet, you don’t go over and poke it with your toe, and you definitely don’t drop the gun to embrace the helpless woman you’ve been protecting – you put another slug in it. The iterative part is that you can never stop putting slugs into it. If you understood the 2 HD zombie that I started the post with, then you’ll also understand that this is like the classic troll – it regenerates.

So maybe I’m really a troll.

Wait just a second, though. I said that the common element in the zombie movie genre was the massed attack by a horde. I’m not going to suggest anything like multiple personalities, but certainly there is a figurative horde of vices, sins, and imperfections that have to be dispatched one at a time, and sometimes it seems like there’s some double-teaming going on. You drop the zombie to your right, forget to double tap before turning to engage the zombie on your left, and before you know it, the zombie you thought was slain is on your back, trying to gnaw through your skull to the tasty brains within.

Oh, how I wish that it didn’t have to be this way. I wish that I could just nuke it from orbit (to switch metaphors yet again) and just incinerate the whole horde. I wish I could just set the fundamental option switch to “Christ” and live happily ever after rather than having to continually modulate frequencies ala Geordi La Forge. I don’t know whether everybody’s an undead troll at heart, or just me.

What I do know is that, although I might be splattered with zombie juice and occasionally lose my footing, I haven’t forgotten that I’m still human, and that my humanity has been redeemed by a perfect atoning sacrifice. A sacramental armory assures that I won’t run out of ammo, so that battle will continue as long as I have the will to fight.

Bring on the zombies!

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