Zombies as Walking Blasphemies

Zombies (both classic and modern, and if you don’t know the difference, please listen to our show) can be seen as types of blasphemies. Think about it for a second: the one thing God made in His image* becoming soulless and dead, but animated as if they were alive, in direct mockery of His creation. Hence, blasphemy.

I realize that there are many definitions of blasphemy, but the one that makes the most sense to me is offering up something as if it were holy when it is expressly NOT holy**; conversely, treating something that IS holy (especially something that is supposed to represent God, such as His Name) as if it were NOT holy would also be considered blasphemy here as well.

And I also realize that there are more than one way of looking at the “…in the image of God…” portion of the text. To cut to the chase, I am assuming that anyone who agrees with that in any way would agree that, to some extent, humanity is the image-bearer of God, and as such represents Him, at least in a small degree. I realize that I am arguing that we all commit blasphemy any time we do not adequately represent Him, which is probably all the time, but at the very least it can be said that Christians at least attempt to do this. In Hebrew, the word ‘image’ (צלם tselem) means ‘a shadow, an outline or representation of the original’.

So, back to the zombie metaphor, we have human beings (who are still, to whatever little degree we can, bearing God’s image by being alive and having a soul) and zombies***. To me, zombies are reanimated corpses, and not the actual person (soul) who once inhabited that shell, but that shell is still in the form of the shadow/outline/representation, at least in a very basic sense, and needs to be addressed so that the blasphemous nature will go away.

Similarly, with ‘classic’ zombies, we have normal human beings (us, or, typically, the hero/protagonist) and ‘zombies’ (who are mindless – not soulless- slaves, or thralls). In this case, the drugs, or magic, or whatever needs to be taken away so that the mockery of life – the blasphemy – can be returned to a productive (‘image-bearing’) life. The mind-robbing influence needs to be addressed so that the blasphemous nature will go away. One might rightly argue that this is the greater blasphemy; one person enthralling another against his will as compared to a disease or whatever causing the zombie blight.

From a story standpoint, the reader/viewer should now be shown one of two things: either how we should deal with blasphemy (correcting it and putting it in its proper place) or how the world reacts to it (devolving to a mindless level and creating further blasphemy by committing violent acts against the zombies). I would argue that Christians can find food for thought in the former story type, while the latter would produce cautionary tales at best.


* Gen. 1:27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

** one example would be using “holy -”, and following it up with something that is obviously not holy…REPENT Boy Wonder!

*** ‘modern zombies’, who mimic life, but only by being animated, and whose soul should have passed on at the time of death, assuming that you read 2 Corinthians 5:8 – “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” – to mean that there is no intermediate state between life and death.






12 responses to “Zombies as Walking Blasphemies”

  1. Hank Harwell Avatar
    Hank Harwell

    I mentioned this NPR radio show in the comments on the episode: http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/monsters-we-love/kristasjournal.shtml

    One interesting observation is that the real ‘Walking Dead’ of the show of the same name refers not to the zombie hordes, but to the survivors.

  2. Ben Avatar

    I see the Walking Dead referring to the survivors, but it doesn’t connect with me. Maybe because it denies the idea of “hope”? Hope is something I wish we had gotten a chance to talk about in the episode, because it is something that the show flirts with a bit.

    There is, of course, the point of view that just considers us ALL “walking dead”. “We all start dying the day we were born.” Mortality is definitely a theme in horror literature, and Walking Dead is absolutely tapping into that.

  3. Hank Harwell Avatar
    Hank Harwell

    Take a listen to the podcast I referred to. It discusses the idea and it talks about hope in the series. It also touches on other depictions of monsters on TV, and discusses the cultural ramifications of each

  4. Hank Harwell Avatar
    Hank Harwell

    Here’s another interesting take on the subject: http://www.equinoxjournals.com/blog/2012/03/the-other-kind-of-apocalypse-the-christian-worldview-of-they-live/ (strong language warning)

    1. Steve Avatar

      An interesting take on it, thanks Hank! And, intriguingly, it addresses one of my concerns that we spoke of in the episode – the definition of ‘zombie’; if the Borg can be considered zombies because of the deprivation they endure, then the They Live ghouls can also be seen as zombies due to their specific deprivation. I’m still not sure if I agree wholly, but more fuel for the fire! And thank you for the language warning as well. Although not over the top, I’m glad I was forewarned.

  5. Hank Harwell Avatar
    Hank Harwell

    (note: I’m really NOT a zombie aficionado, despite my numerous posts on this subject)

    Just for fun, you might want to check out this series of posts on ‘Zombies vs.”


  6. Hank Harwell Avatar
    Hank Harwell

    For someone who isn’t into zombies, it’s odd I keep finding more on the subject. Tonight’s episode of The River featured what could only be virus-induced zombies in the rainforest. I don’t think it will change any minds here.

  7. Doug Avatar

    This is an interesting topic, and as much as I like watching the Walking Dead, and other zombie movies (let me say, how some people are actually, weirdly frightened by the possibility, I am not at all. Because when the dead rise, it will be a glorious day!), but it bothers me, and it is a blasphemy, like Herschel says in Walking Dead, ‘when the day came for the dead to rise, I thought it’d be a little different.’ Hate to say it, but indeed, it is a rub in the face of Christian beliefs. This is evident when the characters are in a church and they make various comments to the effigy of Christ.

    So, I comfortably watch zombie movies with the knowledge that it will never be like that. So, I try to view it as more analogous, that people are so indulged in the world, that they cave into their carnal nature, so in a respect, the survivors of the series are those who do not, and resist the evil that surrounds. I know, it’s a little bending of logic… the people don’t WANT to be zombies, they’re not tempted. The analogy might work better for a vampire setting.

    1. Ben Avatar

      That’s the one place where zombies break down, for me as an allegory. There is no “cure”, there is no redemption, for a zombie. A vampire can fight the impulse toward evil. A zombie has no such ability. It is just dead. So, try as I might, I cannot come up with a good Christian analogy to write some sort of zombie tale. However, as an allegory of American society? It’s a whole ‘nother story, like you said.

  8. Nicholas Fagg Avatar

    Hey Guys,
    If your amped on zombies, check out this short film made here in South Africa

  9. Aaron Allen Avatar

    , I understand where you are coming from? I would like to share with you a project I am working on about this exact topic and message.

  10. ecemovies Avatar

    I am actually working on a Christian movie projects on this exact topic, and this actually relates very much. Steve I would like to share it with you and see what you think.

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