Monday, December 19, 2011

Deconstruction: Night of the Living Dead Christian 22

You are my greatest adventure, and I almost missed it.

Welcome to the detailed (and spoiler-rich) review of Night of the Living Dead Christian. For a briefer review that doesn't give anything away, read the main review. If you're curious, here's a discussion of why I'm doing this.

This is a rather long bit of reaction, so I'm breaking it up into sections. Hopefully that will allow for more bite-sized discussions. So, now that you've all been fairly warned, we'll pick up the deconstruction after the jump:

Narrator-Matt has helped his friend Luther find a cure for his lycanthropy. Owing to a... mishap... on his way home, he has stopped to talk with his neighber, the semi-ex-vampire Lara, and the semi-ex-zombie Robert. Lara has apparently been considering suicide; she's been sharpening stakes. Narrator-Matt reassures them that salvation is possible for them. When he finally leaves, he takes the stakes with the intention of throwing them away when he gets home.

...At which point he discovers that the reason his wife was calling him is because her water has broken, and she's bundling herself and the children into the van to head for the hospital. This is presumably also why she's too busy to smack him in the head for neglecting her, though I suppose it's possible that she knows better than to expect an Igor not to be a bit... distractible.

As a result, Narrator-Matt misses the touching reunion between Luther (the recently-cured werewolf) and his wife, Clarissa. Unlike the last time, Luther has gone all-out to show how much he's changed. He's cleaned the house, cleaned himself, bought flowers... He greets Clarissa at the door, embraces her, explains about the fire and the miracle, and how he's going to get baptized, and how he was willing to go to counseling with her[1], and how he and she and their daughter could all go to church together, and...

...And it's too late. She's brought the divorce papers. She believes that he's changed, but too much has happened and she's found someone else.

If you have any sympathy for Luther, this is sad. This was his goal, after all: to be rid of his lycanthropy so he could be with his wife and daughter again. And he's done everything he needed to in order to make this happen, only it's too late to fix things. I can see that, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for Luther[2], so I was more impressed by how realistic this section was. As tragic as it seems, as much as it makes them both sad, it's still something that Clarissa has to do.

This was one of the sections of the book that really worked for me. And it shows Luther's character growth that he doesn't freak out, that he mourns without raging at his wife.

Narrator-Matt describes the birth of his daughter, and his hopes for her, and offers some thoughts on the idea of being born again. He talks about hearing cries a few days later, and going outside to find Luther huddled against the side of his house, his wolf-skin tied on with twine. "He was crying in the rain, saying that he wanted her back and he thought that everything would be wonderful when he was born again, but he was wrong. It's not all wonderful. It's worth it, but it's not wonderful."

This book is, in its way, a somewhat subversive look at Christian beliefs (at least, some flavors of them). This particular passage is also a subversion of the standard Christian conversion story ("I once was lost, but now I'm found, etc.") in that it presents Salvation not as a goal, but as the first step on a new road. And I like that. I may not share those beliefs, but I like that.

[1] This is, by the way, a good indicator that the earlier section featuring the destructively misguided harpy of a counselor doesn't actually reflect the author's view of the profession.

[2] It occurs that me that Luther would completely understand my lack of sympathy.


  1. I was a touch worried that my editors/publisher might not like the "realistic" bits of this section, but you know, they loved it and never so much as breathed a word about changing it.

    And, honestly, I think the subversion of salvation happened when "live forever in heaven" became the definition. The "new road" bit about transformation in the here and now should have never been dropped in the first place....

  2. I think the subversion of salvation happened when "live forever in heaven" became the definition.

    That matches my impression. Where the Bible talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, it always seems to be referring to something that we're supposed to be building here on Earth. The Pearly Gates, Live-Happily-In-Paradise view of heaven seems to belong more to the oral tradition of Christianity.


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