by Lucas LaRoche
Fans were stunned to see the recent season premiere of AMC’s Walking Dead. I must admit that I’ve fallen out of the loop with the show, but the show’s portrayal of the darker side of humanity interests us in our glass towers, matching our disinterest with nihilism.
There really has been a recent spike in zombie movies and shows in recent years—of course, the theme of a zombie or something undead coming to haunt us is not new. Mankind as a whole seems to have a grotesque interest in those things that used to be like himself, but now walk the night in search of blood, brains, or something else that offends our sensibilities.
In our post-Christian world, I can’t help but wonder if this new obsession with zombies and their undead kin seeks some answer for the great question, “what happens once this life is done?”
Christianity is clear in its teaching that Heaven is not the ultimate goal. Although we all look forward to the day (God willing) that we are with God in paradise, the Church teaches that only when a new Heaven and a new Earth are created, and each person who has entered into the Beatific Vision has received a new and glorified body, will the end of time finally arrived. This idea of a Resurrection of the Body seems to be inherent to human nature. We seem to have an innate desire to preserve the remains of our dearly deceased, and to either preserve them or pass them along to some sort of deity.
Could it be that the zombie craze is society’s desire to recognize some Resurrection? But when the Church looks forward to the true Resurrection, she believes that every tear will be wiped away, and that the bodies inhabited by the faithful will mirror the resplendent glory of Christ’s body, as first shown in the Transfiguration. The idea of zombies, however, leave the departed as shambling versions of themselves.
Perhaps this should be viewed in light of the Catholic Church’s recent clarification on cremation. In the earliest days of the Church, cremation was thought to be a denial of the Resurrection, and was deemed illicit. Not until the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine, wrote on the matter was it deemed that cremation was a valid option unless it was done explicitly to deny the Doctrine of the Resurrection.
The Church has clarified that cremation is allowed, but ashes cannot be scattered. It deems it important that we, as the Church militant, have some memorial of the faithful departed, and a reminder to pray for them. Contrast this with the idea of a roving and wild corpse, who has no stability and deteriorates before one’s eyes instead of reverently returning to dust, the dust from which he was created.
A zombie, then, seems to be the same thing—a scattered corpse which roams about, not reminding anyone of what it is to exhort prayers, but instead only striking fear into those it encounters.
As we end this month of November, traditionally set aside to pray for the dead, we ought to remember our own deceased, and ask God to bring them into the happiness of His kingdom.
Do pray for them. Perhaps they’ll pray for you.
Lucas LaRoche is a seminarian for the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts; studying at Saint John’s Seminary (right across the street from you!) He is currently the interim Layout Editor of the Torch.