Nothing is more penitential than wearing another man’s glasses, but the discomfort is all the worse when what we see is not what we expect it to be.
Take the zombie for instance. The fright of this fictional creature is in the fact that we have before our eyes a human body with no human soul. It is grotesque not simply because the artist always seems to entertain us with some vile liquid or puss flowing from this hole or that, but because we know that we are not seeing what we should.
It is a half human, a partial creature, an incomplete piece of work; and it bothers us because such things should never walk the earth.
Ghosts too have always been the stuff of nightmares, not because of what they say or what they do (although an object flying across the room is quite rattling) but simply because they have lost themselves. It is a spirit with no body. It is an aberration, a disaster, a sign which points nowhere; a human we think and yet the result of something completely wrong.
For what is the human being? Not a sailor standing on his ship; not a prisoner inside his own personal prison; not a worker with a tool he has picked up. A human being is none of those things because we do not come in parts. Instead the body and soul make the man.
And when that man dies (as you and I will) I do not scorn the body and sing for the soul because the person has gone elsewhere – not at all. I mourn because the man is no more. He has become (as we all will) something he was never intended to be, separate things, individual parts, a puzzle scattered in such a way that we cannot even pretend to start making it whole again. So if we sing it is for the hope of something to come, and this is precisely why I do not like their spectacles.
You see, many people have it wrong. We do not live on after death because the parts exist somewhere and in some way. We live on because our God remembers us. He who began creation ex nihilo chooses in the last days to gather us from wherever we have gone. Not to be zombies or ghosts, half men, the progeny of death, but to be what He made us to be. It is the reunification with self, the whole man, the real person, the authentic me that I lose in death and it is the God-man Jesus who brings me back.
But these are not the lenses of this culture. We are transitioning to a period where the zombie, the ghost, the vampire, the mommy, the monster; all of them do not remind us of our death but of a misunderstood minority, a mysterious other just waiting to be included and considered. While we, perhaps the most mysterious thing on earth, are left to observe our own deaths as a part of life, an unfortunate albeit sometimes preferable end to a story.
With such spectacles there is no need for a Saviour, there is no need for a memory larger than our own. We have accepted that we are all really monsters anyway and death is just another step in that direction.
Christians, however, have never believed this. Christians never will believe this. We have our own pair of glasses, and through them, we see quite clearly.
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