3.28.2010

Jesus Loves Zombies


It's Palm Sunday. I invite you to leave the world of adorable toddlers fanning the air with plastic fronds with loud, monotone, repetitious, and let's not forget adorable "Hosannas" for just a moment. Rather imagine the haggard and horrific palms of the Undead reaching in ravenous desire toward you, the glazed vacancy of their eyes belying the ravenous lust of their pitiless actions!
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 Let me explain.

I'm sure that all my avid readers are fluent in several languages or, if not, are currently in the process of becoming more polyglotal. Currently I am working on French and German and have taken to the age-old tradition of reading the Bible in a foreign language as a learning tool. I'm going through the New Testament book of Mark in each language with the vocabulary of a five year old, using inference and guessing to come up with the rest. Reading through the eyes of a child also opens one up to a different and fresh perspective on something that can easily become perfunctory.

The most striking aspect of this reading has been the French and German words for what we call "the crowd". This mass of people become the colorful words "la foule" and "die Menschenmenge". For me "la foule" conjures images of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a riotous hive of "fools" (and yes, that musical number from the Disney Movie of the same name). "Menschenmenge" might possibly be translated as "flock of men" because I've seen "menge" used in a different context with animals.

Because these words are more colorful than the passive "crowd" that my Sunday School brain glosses over, their actions are highlighted. And what actions! As soon as JC returns from his grim triumph in the desert and earns the name "Josh, Professional Demon Slayer", he is beset by what seems a disease: "Menschenmengitis" or "the Common Foule". They're everywhere! They come from every village and town and city and corner of the region! They surround him, coughing and pleading and grabbing his robes and screaming! They keep him from sleeping and eating and fill up the place he's staying with their sheer numbers! They impede his walking in the street like Kafka's "Letter From the Emperor"! They crowd him into a boat because of their crowding on the shore! They keep him out of cities and seek him in the deserted wilderness when he's trying to have a nap!
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Buffet
What does this all sound like? ZOMBIES! Yes! If you aren't convinced try this last example: Jesus is cornered in a house by the crush of "eine grosse Menschenmenge". Suddenly he hears the sound of thudding fists striking the roof above him. The ceiling begins to rain bits of plaster. A hole forms and is gouged bigger and bigger by desperate human fingers. Just when it couldn't get any worse a body falls out of the opening and lands semi-lifeless at Jesus' feet! Crazy!
What's even more crazy is Jesus' attitude toward these Undead. He loves them. He weeps for them and feels compassion for them and gets royally, mother-hen-ly pissed at anyone who would lead them astray. He goes and dies for them, even when they turn into a deadly mob that truly seek his blood. He comes back for them after his "ressuscitation" and offers them peace.

Sometimes Christianity can feel like a bunch of toddlers in their parents clothes, pretending their made-up rules give salvation. Perhaps it should be a little more like a pack of hungry Zombies, thirsty for healing, for forgiveness, for life.

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