The Un-human Condition
What I think the monster stories get at that most other genres can’t quite capture is the spiritual death. Because we were born into sin we are the walking dead (Ephesians 2:1). We cannot truly live, have life, or understand what life is without a connection to Jesus Christ, the source of Life (John 14:6), for whom and through whom we were made (John 1:3-4).
Zombies are the walking dead horror show we fear the most. We know we are dead. We consume. We have no purpose, no hope, so we feed and feed and feed on whatever appears to have life in this world. But it never satisfies and the hunger and the emptiness know no bounds (Ephesians 4:19). In the Zombies we see the monsters that are given over to the desires of the flesh and it is all empty vanity (Ecclesiates 1 & 2). They walk in darkness.
Even the hero and/or heroine who may ultimately escape the zombies are running barely clinging to life. They only appreciate life as they know it because death treads on their heels at every moment. Running from inevitable death is what they feed on in order to experience life. The hero walks in the light. In Christianity, she knows the light and the Light is life (John 14:6).
It is the human condition. We entered into death and became the walking dead. Bodies moving, souls existing, but no longer alive because we were not connected to Life Himself anymore. Indeed we cannot be connected to life without the perfect blood sacrifice.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me,” says Jesus. The Light of the World. (John 14:6, John 1:1-13)
The Best of the Best
Vampire stories capture our plight the best. Condemned from the moment of their vampire birth not only for what they will do wrong (i.e. their sins), but for what they are (i.e. sinners).
The better stories have two types of the fallen. There are those who have lost all humanity; they are given over to the desires of the flesh as if it is all they are and all they ever will be. They are the evil, “bad” vampires.
Then there are the vampires who are holding on to some semblance of their humanity in that they value human life, and cling to some form of human morality. They fight the desires of their own flesh that war with in them against their spirit (Galatians 5, however it is the Holy Spirit in the believer who fights otherwise we are doomed to failure).
This second type of vampire often believe they have no soul, but the sympathetic reader (and one or two of the characters) knows they have a soul. Otherwise they would not hold human life in such high regard. These are the “good” vampires.
And at just this particular point, so many of my friends have a bad taste in their mouth. “Good vampires?” “Yeah, let’s take what is evil and make it ‘good.’” There are some very valid points to be made on that count. I’m not writing about those, but you are welcome to read plenty of critiques of works such as Harry Potter for more about that.
But to return to my soapbox, see the good vampire sickened by the evil he’s wrought. Hear his self condemnation, his disdain for what he’s become. Watch as he hopes against hope for redemption. From my view this character is often better off than many people I know. He knows that he is a sinner. Every moment of his existence is lived with the weight of how great his need for redemption truly is. And like friends I have personally spoken with about this very topic, they, like this character, often believe they are beyond salvation.
Oh what a great sadness is mine to think of my friend from college who believed this of her own life. Do you have such a friend? Have you ever thought you could not be brought back to God or that he didn’t want you? Another fellow student I knew thought what they had done made them too bad to come into a church. And if it was only the blood of a ram, a goat or some other animal or even of just a human being that was shed for them, they would be right. It won’t cover it.
But my God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. He sacrificed the blood of his son, let his son die the death we deserve so that we can be redeemed, brought back into relationship with him for eternity. Why? Because God is LOVE (1 John 4:8).
Enter, the Romance
If the vampires capture our fallen state better than any other monster, it is the vampire romance story which is then the best of the best. Beauty steals the scene and the vampire’s heart. He finds hope in love.
Love is the source of redemption.
Of course, the human love interest is portrayed not as the fallen creature they really are, but more as someone who by their willingness to love the condemned vampire redeems the fallen some how. Here the story falls massively short as we are all actually the fallen (Romans 3:23).
I hope my musings here explain my views of the parallels between monster lit and the Greatest Story ever told so that at least a few of my questioning friends see how I connect the dots from follower-of- Christ to vampire-novelist.
I will leave my soapbox for now to do some research on the rate of body decay when the corpse is refrigerated. Researching a vampire romance is so much fun.