Day of the Zombie

Halloween is a horror fantasy for a society of spectacle, a society of spectators, but not for people of action.

Hollywood made it this way, having transformed the ancient, traditional Western European holiday into the day of the zombie. All Western Europeans celebrate Halloween, or All Saints’ Day, but with them it looks different. In Sweden, Halloween is like the Russian Ancestral Saturday. Swedes go to the cemetery at night, light candles there that are covered to protect them from the rain and wind, and light small bonfires on the perimeter of the cemetery. It is an enchanting, magical sight — a field of light, bonfires in the misty night, a reminiscence of the ancient rite of remembrance of the dead, of the dearly departed.

Regard for the dead is an important part of culture. And although many nations have tales about the living dead — remember “Viy” or “A Terrible Vengeance” by Gogol — we mostly honor and remember our departed with love and sadness. And for Western Europeans, Halloween is a church holiday: It is consecrated by the church, there are memorial services and they read the Gospels about Christ, who saved the souls of the dead from hell.

Hollywood’s America is a new, artificially synthesized culture. After all, the United States was not conceived as just another territorial entity but as a center around which the world would be completely rebuilt — in its image and likeness. In this world there is no Christ, no redemption, no eternal life.

The fear of death and nonbelief in eternal life is the fundamental trait imposed on us by American civilization. Thus the adherents of this civilization invest heavily in prolonging physical life. We read about fundraising for expensive operations designed to extend the life of practically stillborn children, about people living for years (if life is the right word) connected to a respirator, about attempts to ward off death even for really old people.

This fear of death was not at all a feature of our traditional cultures. People were born, lived, died and did not regard their own death as some dreadful end. For them what would seem dreadful is the overextended existence that has befallen Israeli General Sharon, who has spent many years lying with a hose in his stomach, responsive only to pain (such patients are called “vegetables”). One need not fear death. It is a natural end to our not-so-easy life, when we say “Now lettest Thy servant.” There is no need for expensive operations for the elderly or newborns. There is no need to protract earthly life. In death there is nothing frightening. Beyond it is a new life. For me a good example was my grandfather, who at age 82 refused a “life-saving” operation and quietly passed away.

In American culture, it is not so. Death is frightening; rich people buy it off with huge sums of money instead of seeking grace by good works, instead of seeking salvation by faith and prayer.

They also have a different attitude toward children. In our traditional cultures, our ancestors rejoiced if they had children. If they did not, they prayed and asked the Lord to send them children. But in the new world made in America’s image, the presence or absence of children is an act of will (or self-will?). If an unwanted child is born, one can kill it at any available death factory (abortion clinic); if one does not have but would like children, one can buy them in a test tube and let them be carried to full term by women-turned-incubators.

Thus they are creating a new graceless world, one without Christ, without salvation, without hope, without the church. A world in which one does not ask the dearly departed saints to pray to God for us is the world of the zombie.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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