Further Indictments of the Church
Eric Adams’ Lackluster World poses a very interesting question: where were you the day you died? The point is that death is when we cease to live. The view off his main character, Fahrenheit is that we have all ceased to live. Or more precisely that we are not truly alive.
I have often said that I think zombie stories are a great metaphor for modern America. The idea of people no longer living, shambling along through their “lives” fits most people I know. It fits me at times. It’s like Thoreau said, we are living lives of quiet desperation. At times, we wake up and rage against this but we so often float back into the zombie like trance of existence.
Part of Lackluster World is a bit disturbing in that the people Fahrenheit (and I think Adams) rages against most are the Christians in his life. They are disgustingly buoyant, like fluffy clouds of giddy bliss. But for all their happiness, they are no more alive than anyone else in Fahrenheit’s world. They too are mindless zombies.
On one hand, the idea of the undead being a symbol of Christians is completely incomprehensible. Most of the demonic personification of the undead in our culture was shaped by Christian ideals of what is evil and what is holy. Yet at the same time, one Christian theme is that those who are born again, were once dead, that there is some power of life beyond the death that we experience as existence. Should there be more of a connection between those who live beyond the grave and the Christian life that many claim to lead? Or are zombies – mindless, lifeless monsters – closer to the truth of the typical Christian life?
The truly disturbing part about this is that here is another indictment of the Church that seems to have merit. Once again, Christians are being accused of not truly living and there is little evidence to the contrary. As countercultural and as radical as Jesus was, not many of his followers seem to live like that. Where is the abundant life that Jesus promised his followers? They should be more alive, if Jesus is right. Is he wrong? Or are they (we) failing to grasp what he meant? Failing to move into what we have available to us?
I have to ponder, though, is this a classic situation where those who hold a faith cannot be objective about it, but those who look at a faith from the outside cannot truly comprehend it because they don’t grasp it? As an insider of Christianity I often wish that many of the others on the inside weren’t on the inside. Or perhaps, more precisely, I don’t want to be in their inside. But maybe I’m not. Maybe they don’t include me in their group.
But what makes me think that I know or understand Jesus any better than they do? I certainly don’t. I have no way of knowing that I know Jesus any better. I just know that I don’t like the product that they’re selling. Doesn’t make me any better. Just different.
So maybe Lackluster World is right. Maybe Christians are just the blinded-by-bliss zombies of the world. Maybe I’m just the most cynical of them.