February 5, 2014

Spirituality in Zombie Fiction by Paul Loh

Zombie Fiction and Spirituality 



Being faced with your own mortality is a shocking wake up call for many people. For some, it happens when they've survived cancer, a heart attack or had a near-death experience from drowning, electrocution or some other life-threatening experience. 


Facing Mortality


Rarely will death stare you in the face as cruelly, grippingly, or literally as in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

Many people might find themselves completely re-evaluating their priorities. Of course, mere survival would be a challenge, but toward what end? What is there to live for? One might begin to wonder if there was ever any real purpose to their lives.

Now might be the first time that question has occurred to them. At this time, they can choose to truly live for the first time in their lives or just give up the fight.

Atonement


Some might come to the conclusion that it is their friends and/or family which are the most important to them. Some, having lost all friends and family are forced to make do with whatever vestiges of humanity are left. In my book, 'The Greater Number', the character Mbu is traveling with a schizophrenic old lady who believes that he is an alien who is going to bring her to his space ship so that she could see the heavens.

He recalls an incident from his youth in which he had made fun of a little boy who believed that he could catch 600 sharks with a twig with a piece of string tied to it. Months later, that boy died of an inoperable brain tumor. Looking back on the incident, Mbu says:
"Yeah. He was eight years old. I wish I could go back and let him live his whole life believing he can catch sharks with a twig. I think about that whenever I pass by the lake."
Because of this regret from his past, Mbu decides to go on letting the old lady believe that she's going to fly in a space ship. In a later scene, she is mistaken for a zombie and has her head blown off.

Mbu is glad that she has finally gotten her wish and was able to go "see the heavens."


Religious Contemplation



So many people will try to figure out exactly what is important in their lives. In my short story, "Eventide Battalion," there is a group of people who have escaped the zombies to live on an island. After years, they found that there was only one piece of clean paper left.

Instead of fighting for it, they put in on an altar as a shrine. They go to this altar to meditate on what they would write on it.Survivors in this story can only contemplate what they would write. Since it is the last piece of paper, it becomes a spiritual object. They worship The Last Piece Of Paper On Earth. This is the only religion on the island.

I suppose, it would be similar to wondering what you would want your last words to be or what would be carved on your headstone. In other words, what is your legacy? What would you like people to remember you for? What will be left behind once you're gone?


Personal Transformation



A few people might have been thieves, gangsters or even murderers before the apocalypse. Their new circumstances might make them choose to be a benefit to humanity now. In my book, The Nocent Part 2: Advent of the Scathing, the character Daniel Reese was formerly known as the Good Friday Killer. He was a serial killer who murdered one victim every Good Friday.

One night, he was at the lake and something happened which made him completely turn his outlook on life around. About this change of heart, he says,
"I tell you, it takes a lot of darkness to blind you, but only a little light to help you see."
At the end of the book, he then goes on to sacrifice his life in order to save the life of another of the characters. He went from taking lives to saving them.


Embracing Life


One of my favorite scenes in a zombie movie was at the end of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead when the main character is surrounded by a crowd of zombies. He's about to shoot himself through the roof of his mouth when something clicks into place within him.

He suddenly chooses to live and turns the gun instead on the oncoming horde. He offs as many as he can so that he can make his way to a nearby helicopter and fly away to safety.

This is what I love about zombie stories. They make you think. They make you feel. 

When faced with your own mortality, what will you choose to do with your life?

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