The Living Dead

Zombies have long captured the popular imagination as gruesome, reanimated corpses, driven by an insatiable hunger for human flesh. They emerge from the dead, often through supernatural or scientific means, but their reanimation is far from the hope and glory that Christian resurrection symbolizes. Instead zombies rise as soulless, relentless, and remorseless creatures.

The prevelance of the zombie mythos in our culture is a symptom of a larger breakdown in personal, social, political, and religious domains of life. It demonstrates the self-awareness that the modern western worldview is bankrupt. There is a realization that we are the living dead.

Resurrection is the counter-narrative our society needs to hear. The resurrection signifies the triumph of life over sin, death, and suffering. It is a message of hope, renewal, and transformation.


Zombies have evolved from supernatural slaves in Haitian folklore to symbols of various modern anxieties, consistently serving as a powerful metaphor for societal fears and concerns. The versatility of the zombie narrative allows it to continually adapt, reflecting the evolving fears and anxieties of different eras.


The modern concept of zombies traces its roots to Haitian Vodou beliefs. In Haitian folklore, zombies are dead bodies reanimated through vodo magic by a bokor (sorcerer). This concept, deeply embedded in the Haitian culture, likely emerged from the traumatic experience of West African slaves who were forcibly brought to Haiti. For them, the zombie symbolized the ultimate horror: a life of endless enslavement, even in death. This notion of a zombie represents not just the fear of death, but a fear of losing one's autonomy and being trapped in a state of living death, a poignant metaphor for the enslaved peoples' experiences.

As these beliefs mingled with similar narratives from the indigenous Taino people, Roman Catholicism and other Caribbean cultures, a unique tapestry of the undead was woven that would capture the Western imagination. The concept of zombies entered Western popular culture in the early 20th century, mainly through anthropological studies of Haitian culture and beliefs. The idea was sensationalized in the United States and Europe, reflecting fears of the unknown and the 'other.'

TV Shows and Movies

Zombies began to appear in American cinema, with films like "White Zombie" (1932) portraying zombies in line with Haitian folklore.

The film "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), directed by George Romero, revolutionized the zombie genre. It portrayed zombies as flesh-eating creatures and introduced themes of societal collapse and human survival. Romero's sequels, like "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), continued to shape the genre, often using zombies as metaphors for consumerism, class conflict, and other social issues. These films reflect the Cold War era anxieties about dehumanization and societal collapse.

The zombie genre diversified with films like "28 Days Later" (2002), introducing faster, more aggressive zombies, and "World War Z" (2013), showcasing a global pandemic scenario. "The Walking Dead" (2010-Present) TV series, based on a comic book, became a cultural phenomenon, exploring complex human relationships and moral dilemmas in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies.

Video Games

Resident Evil Series (1996-Present) and the subsequent film adaptations, were influential in popularizing zombies in the realm of interactive entertainment.

The Left 4 Dead Series (2008-Present) focuses on cooperative gameplay. These games emphasize survival against hordes of zombies.


"World War Z" by Max Brooks (2006) presented a global perspective on a zombie apocalypse, later adapted into the film mentioned above.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Grahame-Smith (2009) combined Jane Austen's classic with zombie elements.



Separation from God: Zombies are the living dead, individuals disconnected from their humanity. Similarly, Western culture's increasing secularism, materialism, and individualism has led to a spiritual separation from God and a "zombie-like" existence in which people are focused on the superficial and material aspects of life.

Loss of Humanity: Zombies are stripped of their humanity, reduced to mindless, decaying shells that act purely on instinct. Because of that, they are neither good nor evil. They look human still, but they lack normal characteristics of people. This is very similar to the myth of naturalism which says that humans are just slightly evolved apes who are controlled by impersonal, mechanistic processes. The result in both cases is dehumanization and relativism.

Eternal Damnation: Zombies are cursed to wander the earth and forever denied the peace and grace that resurrection offers. The narrative of our time is that all is meaningless. There is no ultimate renewal or redemption. There is only death, extinction, and the void in the future. This view ultimately can only hold out a secular version of hell with no chance of salvation.

Consumerism: Western culture is characterized by excessive consumerism and materialism, which is a symptom of widespread spiritual emptiness. Zombies mindlessly pursue brains and flesh in the same that many pursue material goods, status, or wealth in modern society. Like the zombie, we are never satisfied because our primary problems are spiritual.

Individualism: Zombies exist as solitary, mindless creatures. Though living in a "community," zombies don't know each other and never communicate or work together for a common goal. Similarly, the survivors fighting against the zombies usually don't care about anyone else. Sometimes they are with a small group if it is useful, but they will soon leave them for dead if their lives are at risk. This is antithetical to the Kingdom of God where God's people are a community working together under one King.

Lack of Purpose: Zombies exist without a clear purpose. They do things on instinct, but they have no meaning. There is nothing objectively good or bad for a zombie. This same attitude has led to a widespread physical and spiritual malaise in our culture. Many struggle to find meaning in their daily lives, turning to various distractions like drugs, alcohol, video games, sexual content, and social media to try to fill the void. Instead, true purpose is found through being in a right relationship with God and realizing that each of us play a role in God's plan.

Moral Decay: Humans are created in the image of God, making human life sacred. Zombies lack a sense of right and wrong and eat humans without a second thought. They destroy the sacred with animal carnality, and we find that appalling. Likewise, Christianity has been set aside by a large portion of our society, but people are still appalled when they see the resulting zombie like actions that result such as serial killers, wars, and cults. This shouldn't come as a suprise to Christians. The Bible explains the sinfulness of the human heart, and the only cure is found by turning to the living God who forgives and transforms us.



John Vervaeke, Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis, 2017. Chapter 3 is on openedition.


Zachary Crockett and Javier Zarracina, How the zombie represents America’s deepest fears.