The Gospel? From decaying zombie flesh? Bear with me. The zombie craze began, arguably, with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in 1968. That movie almost singlehandedly gave birth to the zombie genre as we know it today.
All along, the films have been full of sly social commentary, or crackling with stinging satire. At its (undead) heart, the genre is essentially a polemic against rampant consumerism. It’s a critique on the quintessentially American way of life. By confronting us with the brutality of (un)death, it shows us a number of uncomfortable things about how we live now.
Zombies are flesh and blood(less) metaphors for:
They are shambling mirrors of our souls, for as they are we could be. And each one of them used to be as we are: alive, with hopes, dreams, families. They are the still-walking reminders that death comes for us all. Much as we try, we cannot avoid it. Much like death itself, zombies cannot be bargained with, cannot be bought, cannot be be dissuaded from a single-minded purpose:
The destruction and consumption of all that is living.
The singularly uncomfortable truth is:
I am going to die. You are going to die. We are all going to die. And we have to reckon with that. As Malcolm McDowell (as Dr. Sorrin) said in Star Trek: Generations, “Time is the fire in which we burn.”
Of the horror genre, zombie fiction (film, comics, books, etc.) is especially well-suited to confront us with this grim reality, and in so confronting help us deal with it. But we have to be willing to face our fears.
This often means looking at the dark heart which beats within each of us. Because, though we are alive, we are dead. We are the living dead. And it is into this land of the dead that Jesus burst onto the scene. He, redolent with the smell of life, came to confront us in our decay.
He came, telling the truth:
You are dead.
We didn’t like His message. It made us uncomfortable. Surely, we were just fine? We were upright–walking, talking, observing the Law.
We. Were. The. Zombies.
And the only way out, paradoxically, is death:
We must die to self, putting to death our members, and daily receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save our souls. Even so, our bodies will one day die. Our flesh will see decay. To us, the dead-alive, Jesus says:
“I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me though he were dead yet shall he live. He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?”