Monday, August 20, 2012

The Upside of the Zombie Apocalypse

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityby Josh Kiel

Last night upon coming home, I underwent my regular pre-sleep routine. I got into bed and woke up this morning exactly as I had expected. I had the same thoughts that I have every Sunday night. I was subconsciously preparing myself for Monday morning and the start of another work week. I spent some time running a mental checklist of all the issues that were going on and who I would need to call, the bills I had to pay, the errands and domestic tasks I needed to perform. 

It was routine, bland, unexciting, and boring; the essence of the mundane. Tomorrow would be there and I had to plan for it, there was no reason to expect that it wouldn't be.

Believe me, it is as boring writing about my nighttime routine as it is reading about it, so let's switch it up a little. Instead let's imagine that same scenario with the one minor change. Imagine that I had spent my entire day eluding hordes of zombies and was now holed up in my apartment with the possibility of 50 or 500 busting down the door to devour my delicious person.  

I know what you're thinking: now we're talking. One of the given plot points in many post-apocalyptic movies is this radical shift of priorities that people would need to deal with. In this specific situation, tomorrow is no longer a given, even living another hour is not a given. The needs of everyone would be limited to the very day that we are living. 

This could be demonstrated through any post-apocalyptic scenario, but I chose zombies for two reasons: 1) You write what you know and 2) Living to see tomorrow is the implicit goal of the characters in zombie films such as the beloved Shaun of the Dead. 

In that film the characters lives are interrupted when they encounter the reanimated dead. This is particularly demonstrated in two scenes in which Shaun makes a nearly identical trip to the local market oblivious to the differences in his environment pre and post zombies. Throughout his journey on both days he is oblivious to the world around him and caught up in his own thoughts. It takes his eventual realization of the zombie apocalypse to motivate him to get a plan together to face just one day and dismiss, for the most part, his worries about the future. 

Instantaneously, his priorities shift to where he is no longer worried about anything except surviving through the night until morning. Shaun's long term concerns and anxieties disappear because his immediate situation is dire enough to prevent any worry about the future.

In a weird way, I desire the sort of freedom that this scenario would represent. In the midst of the zombie apocalypse all of my aforementioned worries are moot. My concerns are limited to not becoming dinner for a flesh-hungry corpse, it's a simple goal with clearly defined success or failure.  

In that scenario I have no worries about whether I'm contributing enough to my 401k, political concerns, whether I'm making enough progress towards my end of year work goals, or any other of the dozens of long term goals that continually crop up in my mind and cause me to worry through the normal course of any given day. 

In essence the dead rising would give me the freedom to worry only about today. To live my life with reaching tomorrow as a goal instead of a given.
It is no longer an accomplishment to live until tomorrow. We expect it, we plan for it, we worry about it, and at times it is to our own detriment. We've all heard warnings about the dozens or hundreds of ways that we could die every day, but we still accept blindly that tomorrow will be there for us and we need to prepare for it. 
Did you get a sunburn lately, better watch out for skin cancer. Driving a car today? Wear your seatbelt and hope you don't encounter a drunk/drowsy/distracted driver. Gunmen, terrorists, West Nile, AIDS, and dozens of other "threats" that we're made aware of by the media are lurking and threatening to take away our precious lives. With all of the ways that we know we could die I'm surprised we don't wake up in the morning half in-awe as we exclaim, "YES, I MADE IT!!".

If the constant reminder of my own mortality doesn't make me enjoy each day as it comes would it really take the dead rising from the grave to make me stop worrying about tomorrow and just face today? Yeah, I suppose it would.  
But that's already happened. Christ directed us to not worry about what tomorrow may bring because each day has enough of its own trouble. We need only pray that we be given our daily bread because anything beyond that is speculation on our part. 
This is my interpretation, but I see that as a call to view tomorrow not as a burden, but as a goal. That we can rejoice in every day we're given and face them one at a time. Technically yes, it took someone rising from the grave for me to see that and so much more. Now that it's done though I need only oblige each day as it comes.

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