Book Club Channel
Run for Your Life: Faith in a Zombie Culture
I walk my dog a lot and often try to imagine what it would really be like if all my neighbors suddenly turned into brain-hungry zombies. Have you ever projected one of those movies onto your life? We wouldn't be laughing. But there's a reason for those types of reactions, a typical response in modern societies in which excitement, even horror, seems to trump the monotony of routine existence.
The same thing happened on the eve of World War I. Humanity was parading into the most terrible event the world had ever seen and parties were breaking out across Europe. Apparently we can only take so much automated monotony before we choose any other alternative, unpleasant as it might be. It's all Fight Club philosophy really.
Chuck Palahniuk—the Fight Club creator—understood the emptiness of trying to find meaning through material things. Searching for purpose in life through the winding aisles of Ikea doesn't ultimately lead to anything but disappointment. It's as useless as washing your car during the apocalypse.
Most of us spend a large chunk of our lives trying to bridge the gap between merely existing and truly living. We struggle with a bland existence because we recognize that fulfillment doesn't come from anything in the physical world. So how to reconcile these inner spiritual longings? Zombies help us make some sense of such questions. I personally believe a connection to God is the only thing that bridges that gap.
In a post-apocalyptic world there's less clutter left in the way between us and the end. Most of the people are gone as are careers, gyms, and entertainment distractions. It's the setting that matters, which brings us back to that zombie 5k racetrack.
Two hours after that course official's dire warning to Run For Your Lives competitors, I'm standing in some brush alongside a swamp where a zombie wades, stalks really, with only her eyes and the crown of her soaked, muddy hair visible. I turn and chat up a different zom along the dirt path.
Her name is Jenny and fake blood is caked around her smile. "My husband's running, and I'm gonna get him," she says as runners slog past, exhausted and grateful that I've distracted at least one predator. Too bad they don't know about the swamp zombie hiding up ahead.
Jenny cradles her stomach like she's just polished off a big dinner. "I'm four months pregnant," she says. "My baby's getting to be a zombie with me. Something for the scrapbook."
That's really sweet and fun and only a little creepy, I think, and steady my camera to capture the swamp zombie's inevitable ambush. She waits like death, anticipated but still shocking. I guess no one can run forever.
For more conversation on zombies and God, visit the Patheos Book Club on Undead: A Dead Person's Guide to Spiritual Life.
Clay Morgan is a writer, teacher, and speaker from Pittsburgh, PA who blogs about pop culture, history, and the meaning of life at ClayWrites.com. He is the author of Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn about zombies, God, and what it means to be truly alive.