Shortly after my return from my Mexican Adventure this past winter, the pheasant season having elapsed and the trout season still distant, I began collecting decks of playing cards. In my zeal, I immediately purchased a wide variety of decks. Among those novelty cards was a zombie deck from Bicycle. In my music collection, one of the most frequently played tunes is a song called "Zombie" by the Cranberries. I have repeatedly watched the Woody Harrelson film "Zombieland," and laughed uproariously at each viewing. Cinema and television abound with zombie-laden plots all of which pivot upon human efforts to avoid becoming entrees for the undead. Zombies, it seems, are the "in thing."
In and of itself, this recent fascination with Zombies is not particularly disturbing. They are neither more nor less horrifying than any of the other creatures that have sprung from the human imagination. People like monsters. People like to be scared. More troubling to me, however, is the fact that popular media reveals something about how a culture perceives itself. What is suggested about our culture when one of the most oft repeated themes is a zombie who is only half alive, driven by an insatiable need to consume, and whose state is contagious to those who do not suffer zombieism just yet?
I fear we have become a culture of zombies. We abide in the land of the living, but are mostly only half-alive. We have no purpose, no meaning, no intention, no direction, no passion. We long for these things from time to time, when we are briefly confronted with a moment without noise and distraction, but we despair that such things exist, and so we settle for that which is cheap, disposable, and fast, hoping that enough consumption will eventually fill the gaping chasm the demands that we find meaning in our life. Thus we move from sleep to work to food to work to sleep, at every turn hoping for something more, and never finding it. We invest in one short-term relationship after another, our souls groaning for any little intimacy, even if at the cost of our dignity. We use and we are used and on sleepless nights, we are nauseated by the meaningless of our existence, always vaguely aware that we have accomplished little or nothing of lasting worth. So we plan vacations, and we think how lovely it will be when all the kids are home for Christmas, and we are devastated when they quarrel. To ease the misery, we turn on the computer, the tv, the radio and immerse ourselves in noise. Then we go to Mass and leave complaining that the music is boring, the prayers redundant, the priest too preachy, and the pews too hard. In a word, the one place where we can find a remedy to our zombieism fails to be just like the way I experience all the disposable consumption driven elements in the rest of my life.
Enter Jesus Christ. In him are beauty, meaning, passion, intimacy, purpose. To live in him, for him, with him is to find a cure for the zombie curse. It is really quite simple. Blessed Pierre Giorgio Frasatti said it best. "To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for the truth is not to live, but to exist." Humans are meant to live, truly live. Zombies simply exist.