Okay, yesterday in all that talk about vampires I mentioned zombie Jesus art, that most loved anti-Christian protest meme of the 4Chan community and atheists worldwide. But how many of you are aware though that the meme extends to video?
Zombie Jesus videos I have come across are: Corpus Delecti – (The Passion Of The Zombie Christ), 3 Days Later: Jesus Christ Zombie Lord, “Dawn of the Messiah” Zombie Jesus Craves Brains!, Zombie Jesus is Back … and more.
The general equation seems to be messianic resurrection = zombie reanimation and faith = having your brains eaten out. None too subtle.
However, considered together, the zombie Jesus and vampire Jesus memes draw me into reflection on the common theme that religion = death. This is extremist stuff, but I think it brings to the surface what’s on the tip of the tongue for many who feel alienated by religion in general and Christianity more specifically. Question: what next?
5 thoughts on “Zombie Jesus and the Undead Meme”
The interesting thing is that in a sense, the critics are right. Christianity does suggest a certain painful death to self and a new mind (brain). The main thing is that we see things as good, the atheists, etc see them as negative.
This is not uncommon, though. When explaining my view of marriage to an unbelieving friend, I was expressing how beautiful mutual submission and self-sacrifice was, how it deepened our love for each other, etc. He could not believe anything good could come from “negative words like sacrifice, submission, compromise.” Christ is indeed folly to Gentiles and many others…
Nathan: It’s all fine and good to say that, but it comes across as ignoring and even trivializing the entirely legitimate reasons why people are wary and mistrustful of those concepts. In many people’s experience, “submission” has come to mean “let other people abuse and take advantage of you.” To many, “sacrifice” has come to mean “let others bleed you dry, only to leave you empty and used up.” To many “compromise” has come to mean “give all the ground and get nothing in return.”
Too make matters worse, many of us learned these lessons AT THE HANDS OF CHURCH LEADERS AND OTHER CHRISTIANS. So we continue to be wary, and we continue to wonder if what you are promoting is truly different or merely another case of “second verse, same as the first.”
If the Church wants people to really see value in what it has to offer, it must first strive to acknowledge and sympathize with what many of us have experienced and agree that it wasn’t merely follow, but EVIL. Then it must show how what they are now offering — using many of those same tainted words — is substantively different.
Jarred – unfortunately what you say is too true, and I’m sorry that has been your experience. To an extent, it has been mine – my husband was a pastor, and the concept of “servant leadership” was unfortunately understood by the church leadership group to mean that he was general gofer and dogsbody. And any attempt to protest was seen as showing lack of humility, and therefore proved he was not fit for the job. That this was systematic bullying and unChristlike behaviour was completely ignored by the denomination. He ended up being off sick for months, we nearly lost our marriage, and eventually we had to leave.
Those who attempted to name and expose the evil that was being perpetrated were made to feel so unwelcome that they too left.
Somewhere, among the wreckage I cling to the belief that one day we will all stand exposed before God, and there will be no lies, no cover-ups and no excuses.
In empathy with you… Several of my friends as well as me, personally, have suffered at the hands of “Church” people. However, I have found that “walking with Jesus” has brought healing and perspective over time. A certain amount of vulnerability cannot be avoided despite a more heightened sense of vigilance.
In regards to Zombie Jesus: have to say, that’s a bit oustide my aesthetic preference. Whilst appreciative that sometimes the “dramatic/traumatic” is the only way to get a point across to some people, I ‘m not a fan of the Zombie genre. However, occasionally in conversation , when appropriate, I might mention “Spooky Jesus”, “Buddy Jesus”, a la Alan Hirsch’s/Michael Frost’s writings (esp. “ReJesus” 2010), or a term of my coinage “Genie Jesus”… sorry if that’s too off-topic…
Matt, thanks for touching on zombies in culture as well. You put together a list of video I will have to look at to flesh out (pun intended) my research.
I agree that much of the zombie Jesus phenomenon is an effort at critique and satire on Christianity, particularly by the atheist community. But at the same time if we approach it ethnographically and theologically, we can see there is also more to it. Zombie Jesus has surfaced within the international zombie walk phenomenon where hundreds, sometimes thousands gather to walk through major cities dressed as zombies. This is rife for research and exploration. I content that it reflects several things, including an embrace of the mortality and fragility of the flesh (thus reflecting postmodern bodily concerns), a reaction against the lingering emphasis of Christianity on the spirit/soul over against the body, and also a response to Christian resurrection teachings sans the transformation of the flesh.
In regards to zombie Jesus, it is not difficult to see how this is arrived at in that for many any person who comes back from the dead is a zombie, including Jesus since their understanding of his resurrection is shaped by pop culture’s zombie narrative rather than that of the New Testament and the New Testament.
I’ve done some preliminary and ongoing research on this and would love to do it as a PhD dissertation and/or book on this topic. But the point is, while we should be aware of and concerned by the critique/satire of Jesus and Christianity in this, nevertheless, there is more to this phenomenon that merits our attention and even appreciation. See my blog TheoFantastique.com under the tags “zombie,” “zombie Jesus,” and “Christianity” for further explorations and discussion of these and related topics.
Thanks again for posting on this subject, Matt.