Humanity has a love-hate obsession that just won’t die.
We hate to contemplate our own death. Can you recall ever thinking, “I can’t wait to go to the funeral home to make my final arrangements”? Probably not. And we buy life insurance – just in case – all the while hoping we’ll somehow become the exception and kick the Grim Reaper in the bottom when he comes calling.
At the same time, death offers a strange attraction. Some people scan the obits the first thing every morning, reasoning if they’re not in them, then it’s okay to proceed with the day’s plans. TV news usually opens its first minutes with the daily body count – murders, accidents, natural disasters and other calamities.
One of movie director Woody Allen’s most famous lines is, “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” (I second that motion.)
But in recent years, death has ascended to unprecedented heights of popularity. More accurately, “un-death.”
For the life of me, I can’t understand the current fascination with the “undead” – vampires and zombies, fictional but very profitable entities of literary and film fancy. When I was a boy, Bela Lugosi became a film legend portraying the vampire, Dracula. Boris Karloff also rose to movie stardom as Frankenstein’s monster (comprised of recycled body parts), and the Mummy. A late-night horror movie hostess was named Vampira. But there was never the obsession we see today.
Anne Rice perhaps started things off, crafting a lucrative career writing best-selling vampire novels. Author Stephenie Meyer trumped that success with her four-book Twilight series aimed at young adult readers, featuring vampires, werewolves and other such things. Film adaptations of her books have scored big at the box office.
“The Mummy” was resurrected, so to speak, in films from 1999 to 2008. Currently, “The Walking Dead” is a popular cable TV series. And the film, “World War Z,” starring Brad Pitt, recently opened, depicting yet another zombie apocalypse. There’s even a horror film director named Rob Zombie.
So what’s the deal? Why, if we fear the specter of death, do we find it so difficult to look away?
I think there’s a spiritual root to this contradiction. The Bible states we were “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). In other words, without the saving life of Jesus Christ, people are like spiritual zombies – walking around physically, but being dead spiritually, disconnected from God their Creator.
The good news is we don’t have to remain that way. The passage goes on to say, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” (Ephesians 2:4). Another passage declares much the same: “When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive in Christ” (Colossians 2:13).
Without Christ, the Scriptures proclaim, we are the real “walking dead” – breathing, hearts beating – but totally separated from God. Jesus, Himself resurrected from the dead, is the only one that can rescue us from spiritual death. “For it by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Once this spiritual transaction has taken place, we can appropriate the new life given to us. “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
So when you hear about the next zombie film or vampire novel, remember the true “walking dead,” an apt description of humankind apart from the saving grace of Christ. I didn’t say that – God did.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.