“Hey, did you hear about the new Christian movie or book or thing that’s coming out? Let’s all shamble together to Support this thing (even if it’s not very good). That way, we can Send a Message to our churches, or our unsaved friends, or to Big Hollywood! Support. Support. Blargh …” How can Christian fans avoid this rather undead-sounding complex, even while we share the Christian-made stories we truly enjoy?
- We don’t meant to insult, but sometimes this feels like an undead trend.
- We still reject the notion that Christians aren’t “allowed” our own subcultures.
- We also think it takes effort to act like a fan for something you really like!
- Also, this overlaps with the Tool for Unsaved Friends syndrome. More later.
- Finally, here we have to assume existing points: fiction has greater purposes.
1. What do we mean by ‘support zombies’?
- This is the “we must support a Thing to Send a Message” approach.
- We’d support things to Send a Message to: the world, church, or Big Hollywood.
- This is happening lately with political causes, but has happened with Christian-made popular subculture.
2. How have Christians previously acted like support zombies?
- Back when the film Noah released, some said, “Support it for evangelism!”
- Some supported Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ for living and “zombie” reasons.
- Some fans of The Chosen may feel they “should” support it, but the series is still very good.
- Some churchgoers support Christian social-drama movies, even if they don’t prefer the genre.
- Many Christians believe you must be a support-zombie in order to get unsaved people saved.
From Stephen’s 2014 article “When All You Have Is Evangelism, Every Movie Looks Like A Tool“:
Noah is set to deluge theaters on March 28[, 2014]. The fantasy film is inspired by Genesis and directed by Darren Aronofsky. To leak all the puns early: Will the film float, thanks to overall story buoyancy? Or will it sink because of bad construction or poorly weighted evangelical ballast? . . .
Yet other Christian leaders seem to have shrugged and said, in so many words, “Doesn’t matter. Let’s use it as an evangelism tool.” Such was one response, according to The Blaze:
Rather than lambaste the film, [National Religious Broadcasters CEO Jerry] Johnson said that “Noah” should serve as an opportunity for Christians to share their faith.
“Why don’t we turn it into something evangelistic?” he asked.
. . . First, what stories do we miss onscreen when we’re resolved to find only evangelism-tool movies — then stand before the screen, our backs to the story and our faces to the audience?
Second, are we really even focusing on real people? Haven’t we often invented an imaginary audience? For “them,” our imaginary “evangelism” can stray as much from the source material as some of the best Bible-inspired films have strayed from Scripture.
3. How can Christian fantasy fans avoid support-zombie syndrome?
- Be aware that this can happen among fantasy fans, even about Lewis and Tolkien.
- Some Christian fantasy may pull that Tool for Unsaved Friends pseudo-bluff.
- But! We shouldn’t be so fearful of zombie syndrome that we don’t support great stories!
- For example, some think “it’s not already popular” and feel skittish about a new story.
- Popularity, perception, and even evangelism power is not a story’s main point!
- Is the story good, true, and beautiful by God’s standards? If so, share that story.
- It doesn’t matter whether it Sends a Message to your imaginary audience.
- Avoid peer pressure. Don’t be like a herd of undead-acting support zombies.
Anonymous wrote about episode 61:
Just listened to the new podcast. Kerry [Nietz] is always a delightful guest. I have a simple theory about why Christian [science fiction and fantasy] is overrun with “fantasy,” but it is waaaay too controversial to post publicly. I’d get attacked from every angle and called lots of names, but honestly, it seems pretty straightforward to me: Gender.
- This topic will definitely drive a new episode, with sensitivity and a guest!
- However, this topic may be more about reader demand and availability.
Next on Fantastical Truth
Aliens. Audiences love aliens. But if by any chance we learned aliens really lived out there, what would this mean for the gospel? Of course, we would suppose that God had created these aliens. Would Jesus Christ, however, have to die again to save them?
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.