Undead (Guest Post by Rev. Tom Bartley)

[What follows is a guest post by Tom Bartley, pastor of Crooked Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, reviewing the book Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn by Clay Morgan]


What can you say about a book that tackles a subject that is a subject of so much conjecture and fear? On one level we think of the undead such as zombies and vampires as objects of fantasy or Hollywood movies, but Clay Morgan reminds us of the elements of truth in these fascinating creatures that move and walk in the real world. For the realm of the undead is not as separate from reality as we would like to believe.

Morgan references several popular stories of the undead from the zombies of the Walking Dead (a comic book series before it was an AMC hit), movies such as Zombieland, and even a reference to the vampires of Stephanie Meyer (who was not satisfied to just have vampires, she had to have vampires with special powers) to help us understand our fascination with this genre of death, and draws a relationship between this focus and the current state of American society. But he also reveals that this fascination is only a re-hashing of ancient stories, dating back to Gilgamesh and continuing with stories from the Bible.

By examining the stories of the dead raised to life in Scriptures, Morgan tackles one of the toughest subjects for human beings to consider – their own mortality. In one way, it is a bit odd to take what is almost a whimsical approach to such a macabre subject, but Morgan reveals that this subject is much more about life than it is about death. And life – and living it to its fullest – is really what this book is about.


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  • John W. Morehead

    I’m glad to see the monstrous addressed by Christian writers. I’ve been in touch with Morgan and have congratulated him for this book. My own recent venture dovetails with this, The Undead and Theology, co-edited with Kim Paffenroth (Pickwick Publications, 2012). In my chapter contribution I address the zombie walk phenomenon, and suggest that these events reflect not only entertainment and performance art, but also postmodern twists on eschatology, fear of death, lingering Judeo-Christian concepts of bodily resurrection, and body-self concepts informed by both Christianity and metaphysics. I then conclude with positive considerations for theologians who want to engage such pop culture phenomena. Other contributions us the vampire, zombie, the Golem, cenobites, and Goths as objects for theological reflection. The volume is now available in digital and print forms: https://wipfandstock.com/store/The_Undead_and_Theology