This morning I received an email from a friend and parishioner that included a link to a new house design, with a note that said, “Hey Pastor, I thought you would enjoy this zombie proof house.” In the end, that email may tell you more about me than anything, but I thought it was interesting to receive that link this morning as we in the United States react to the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden.
I guess I should set some things straight first. I do not think Osama was simply misunderstood, or really a decent guy once you got to know him. He was an evil guy. He did evil things. I think if he were here in my house he would want me dead along with my family. He was a bad dude. I have no thoughts to the contrary. It was not bad enough that he masterminded the attacks on September 11, 2001, but he used other people as human bombs, and hid behind his money and connections. In other words, he is a great enemy. He is like exhibit “A” in terms of the word “enemy,” which is really quite an accomplishment in today’s postmodern, relativistic milieu. In fact, if anyone ever taught anything that we ought to do in regards to our enemies, then perhaps this guy, Osama, ought to come to mind, because he most certainly was our enemy. But, of course, you can probably see where that is going.
I can guess what you are probably thinking right now. “But what about that zombie proof house?” Fair enough, back to the zombie house. When all defenses are up, it is basically a large concrete block. The walls close up, windows are covered, the only entrance is a second story drawbridge. It is amazing! With enough supplies, a water source, and some planning, you could withstand a prolonged undead siege. My first thought was in regards to the plans for my retirement home – retirement, something about as realistic as zombies themselves. My second thought was, “what if there is a fire?” There is one exit when you are in full defense mode, and if the fire is unfortunately placed… And this brings us to the real reason that I love zombie movies. In a good zombie flick, a Romero film, for example, the problem that ends up crippling our survivors comes from within. That, in fact, is really the constant thread throughout zombie films. It is a sickness that comes from within. Who can forget in “The Night of the Living Dead,” how it is racism within the farmhouse that rears its ugly head, while the undead besiege the survivors? The zombie disease itself is a metaphor for what happens within the survivor community. People turn on each other. The terrifying thing about a zombie attack is that it may be your wife, or mother or brother who becomes undead and thus tries to kill you. Zombies are most terrifying because they were human. Again, who can forget the scene in “Shaun of the Dead,” when Shaun’s own mother reanimates and he has to shoot her? The real issue is not “how do we keep them out,” as much as it is, “what do we do with ourselves now that we are locked in?”
David Bentley Hart writes that evil is an ontological wasting disease. Evil cannot build or create. Evil is not responsible for beauty or any goodness. Evil only kills, steals and destroys. It tears down. It throws into chaos. And it seems, at times, contagious. I have felt very uneasy now in examining the reactions of many Americans to the death of Bin Laden, especially some self-identifying Christians. I am not a pacifist. War means that people die. However, death is always the enemy, and it should always be considered a regrettable, even if necessary consequence of trying to maintain order in a world marred by evil and chaos. There is something appropriate in a zombie movie, when a zombie, with evil intentions must be terminated, because the context of the film does not let us forget that these are our fellow man, who have been tragically taken by an ontological wasting disease, and we must not celebrate the destruction on the outside lest we forget corruption that may take place within. These thoughts crossed my mind last night as I watched mobs in Washington D.C. celebrate the death of an enemy, and as I remembered just 10 years ago when different crowds across the world celebrated the deaths of our countrymen.
If I get time, I’ll post more of my thoughts on this tomorrow. Until then, here is a post I really appreciated from Joe Carter at First Things. While I would have some slight differences with him, I really agree with his main point.