Unless you are Amish, you are probably aware that zombies are way in right now. Which is at least slightly weird since zombies aren’t even a little bit sexy. I mean, there’s not much you can do to glamorize the zombie apocalypse.
But Walking Dead is the biggest show on TV. The number of zombie novels might be outpacing teen vampire romance novels. (Also, that those are a thing? Truly horrifying.) Zombies are even getting attention from scholars.
Before 9/11, Islam was just another weird world religion that the vast majority of American Evangelical Christians didn’t really think about – in the same category as Hinduism and Buddhism. But in the wake of 9/11, we realized that over a billion people in the world are Muslim. And many of the countries most hostile to America are mostly Muslim.
For the last decade, we’ve demonized Muslims. But using Dr. Scott Poole’s methodology, we know that our monsters say more about us than about those we monsterize.
What does the Monster look like?
The picture of Monstrous Muslims we have in our collective Evangelical imagination looks roughly like this:
As faithful readers know, Matt Mikalatos is one of my favorite authors. And since I’m ripping off his Night of the Living Dead Christian for my current sermon series, I asked him to contribute his take on a particularly scary Christian monster. Check out Matt’s blog, follow him on Twitter and read all his awesome books.
Oh, and be sure to come to Beavercreek Nazarene this Sunday, because Matt is speaking! Now, without further ado, Matt’s Christian monster:
JR has been running a series on his blog about monsters we create in the Christian community, and what that says about us. I volunteered to share about that most feared and repulsive of creatures, THE ATHEIST!
On a dark and stormy night in Christian America, families were happy, marriages were strong, and the economy was a powerhouse as God intended. But, unbeknownst to God’s people, a woman named Madeline Murray O’Hair lurked in the darkness. She hated God and hated Christians because she was…. AN ATHEIST! And she wanted nothing more than to undermine the very fabric of Christian society by outlawing prayer in schools and getting the FCC to removed “Touched By An Angel” from television. As we all know, to outlaw prayer would be the death of Christian America. What would happen next? No ten commandments on courthouse walls? No nativities on government property at Christmas? Christians being executed on the White House lawn?
For some time (even after her tragic death), chain letters and forwarded emails used to warn Christians about the dangers of Ms. O’Hair, the atheist. Today, we have to work ourselves up about the “new atheists”… the new vocal minority who are writing books about how there is not God and that if there is, he is not good. And yes, we occasionally (often?) paint them as monsters.Continue reading
Why does every culture tell monster stories? It’s a fascinating question. An excellent book I’ve been reading lately by Scott Poole suggests that monsters are a safe way for us to talk about those aspects of our culture we’re not particularly proud of.
As Scott says:
Master narratives are, by definition, lies and untruths. This is why we need to study monsters. They are the things hiding in history’s dark places, the silences that scream if you listen closely enough. Cultural critic Greil Marcus writes that “parts of history, because they don’t fit the story a people wants to tell itself, survive only as haunts and fairy tales, accessible only as specters and spooks.”
Scott works wonders with this methodology in his book (which you should absolutely check out if you’re a horror movie junkie at all!
So for the next few weeks, rather than retread ground that’s already been covered to such great effect, I’m going to follow Scott’s approach more closely. Scott says,
Seeing America through its monsters offers a new perspective on old questions. It allows us to look into the shadows, to rifle through those trunks in the attic we have been warned to leave alone. Not all of our myths will make it out of here alive.
In this series of posts, I’m going to explore some of the monsters Evangelical Christianity has created. We’ll look at how the persons (and people groups) have been mythologized and misrepresented. We’ll also ask why: what do we gain by projecting our fears onto these “monsters”?Continue reading