Recently Dave and I have been watching the HBO series Trueblood. The premise of TrueBlood is interesting- in the show the Japanese have created a synthetic blood “trueblood” that enables vampires to be sustained on artificial rather than human blood. In turn this allows vampires to begin to emerge into mainstream society. Capitalizing on the current cultural fascination with vampires, the show is a commentary on how we treat people who are different than us, because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or because they are the living dead.
As we were watching TrueBlood a few nights ago I was struck by a line spoken from Layfayette, the cook/local drugdealer/entrepreneur who also happens to be gay.
Layfayette secretly deals “V”- vampire blood which if taken by humans gives them unusual strength, ecstatic experiences and a new insight into the depth of the world around them. As Layfayette draws a few drops of V from a vial, he explains to Jason, one of the main characters, a red-neck womanizer who has started to get hooked on V, that “the blood that we have in us sustains life, but V….. V is life.”
Do you ever have those moments where you think you’re simply being entertained and then some deep truth pops out at you? As I watched TrueBlood I began to wonder why there is so much fascination with vampires. Besides the teeny-bopper crushes on Robert Pattinson, I think many of the themes in vampire shows connect with some of the deepest spiritual longings we have. If you’ll indulge me, there are many similar threads I see between vampire shows and Christian spirituality. Though I could probably write a post about each one of these things, the similar threads I see both for vampires and Jesus followers are a longing for connection and relationships that will last forever, immortality, and life sustaining blood.
For vampires, and for Jesus followers it’s all about the blood. Vampires feed on humans because they are empty, soul-less creatures who need to connect with another life to continue to exist. They hunger and thirst for blood, will do anything to get blood and in the process often turn others into vampires by inviting them to drink their blood.
This week I’ve been in class with Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways and The Shape of Things to Come. Alan and his wife Deb are Australians who have sought to live their lives among the marginalized living how they believe Jesus invites all of us to live- to subversivly, radically love people. People who are messy, broken, and believe they are unloveable. Their primary belief is that Jesus is Lord. It’s as simple and profound as that. He’s Lord of everything- our sex, our money, the time we spend with people, the vampire shows we may like to watch. And it’s because Jesus is Lord all of life is forever changed into an adventure of following him and loving in crazy, wonderful ways.
As a Jesus follower I believe that there was something mysterious, tragic and wonderful that happened in the bloody sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. I will spend the rest of my life figuring out what this historical event means in my life and how the teachings and life of Jesus help me to understand this awful, unjust death he died. There are times when I wonder- “am I crazy for believing this?” I think it’s a good and healthy thing to have doubts about faith and I always have. It’s what propels me into asking more questions to have integrity in my faith. Every once in awhile something rattles or probes me enough to start asking questions again and not just drift off into believing what I believe just because it’s been that way for awhile in my life. Things like when this past week A facebook friend recently posted this as his status update:
CHRISTIANITY: The belief that some cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Makes perfect sense.
To be honest, I was a little pissed when I read this. I get angry that though people claim to be tolerant, they are tolerant of everything but Jesus. That’s another post for another day and right now I’m talking about vampires. I read his status update & thought, well for one, Jesus is not a zombie. He’s alive. Jesus is alive and active and moving in my life and in this world. And it’s because I drank his blood.
Time for me to confess….
I am a Christian vampire. I can’t get enough of the blood. This blood did something to my soul. This blood infected me, not with a virus that tears my life apart. It did exactly the opposite- it gave me life. It made me see things in the world that I’d never noticed before. It made me crave being around people because life is so stinkin’ GRAND! And I wanted other people to see that too in the midst of pain, jacked up families, crippling depression, rejection, fear, anxiety, (and these are just some of the things in my life) that this blood makes a difference. This blood does something. This blood makes you live forever. Not in some lame sitting in a toga, strumming a harp in a cloud kind of live forever, the blood makes your life significant because it joins you with a force greater than yourself that has overcome death itself in the person of Jesus. And what we do in this life is able to make a difference here on into eternity because of his blood.
As I thought and wrote these things I had to ask myself- is this crazy? Is it crazy for me to think that as Jesus hung on the cross bleeding he could see all the ways we rejected the goodness God offered us and traded it for a cute outfit from target to make ourselves feel beautiful, an orgasm with a stranger to make ourselves feel loved, a 60-hour work week to pay a mortgage that we can’t afford in the first place to make ourselves feel significant and secure? Is it crazy to think that there could actually be a different story and way of life that sets us free from these things and that somehow Jesus is able to do something about it?
People- I’m crazy for Jesus. And while you might think I’m a theological nutter, or a pop-culture junkie that sees Jesus in every copy of Entertainment Weekly, I’m convinced of this:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither heights nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37)
My challenge this month is called “fools for Christ.” Whatever your spiritual background is, your beliefs or lack thereof- what would be the craziest thing you could do to explore faith? Maybe it’s to talk about faith backgrounds with people in your life that you have no clue what they believe. Maybe it’s to explore who Jesus is for yourself rather than letting other people tell you who he is. Studying the primary source of scripture and reading about Jesus in the book of John is a great start:
If you’re a Jesus follower, what would be the craziest thing you could do to live out your faith and talk about it like it made a difference in your life? I’ve realized that after college it’s way too easy to get sucked into the grind of life and stop asking big questions- to stop exploring and just start existing.
So here is my challenge to you bloggies this week: bring up the subject of spirituality with someone, have a talk about beliefs and how it impacts the lives of people around you or your own life. The worst that can happen is someone telling you that they’re uncomfortable talking about their views with you and throw their pudding snack pack at you. Perhaps the best that can happen is that you begin to know someone in a new way, realize some questions you have about faith, or feel invigorated talking about something besides the latest episode of LOST. So- how bout’ it?