Anne Rice, the Bible, and Cyrus the Great

I just finished Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones. From the original queen of vampire writing, who’d have thought? A book that includes not just the gothic but profound questions of purpose and identity and (here’s what’s especially intriguing to me right now) reflects some good research into ancient Near Eastern religion and history. Marduk, the god of ancient Babylon, plays a role, Cyrus II, who founded the Persian Empire; so too the Jewish hasidim of our time.  The main character learns to love and pursue learning, even while he dissolves, shape-shifts, kills, saves, and knocks on heaven’s door. A cool read, all around…

Cain as Vampire?

Word has it that the Good Word is jumping on the vampire bus. For all sorts of reasons, it’s not as great a leap as you might think — more on that later… Meanwhile, here’s the scoop: Will Smith as the lead in The Legends of Cain a re-telling of Genesis’ story of the first kids, the first brothers, and the first murder in which Cain is a vampire.  That’s all I know so far. Do let me know if you learn more.~ … (later) Thanks to Jospeh Laycock, a doctoral candidate at Boston University, for his essay in Religion Dispatches on the topic. Really interesting. Check it out.

Galilee, Ghosts, and Time to Read

I’m really excited about my new project, which has me thinking about all things paranormal. Turns out, they’re all around us — almost, well, normal.  The Bible is one source for images and ideas, but the appeal (some would say awareness) seems basic to our humanity. If we don’t believe, exactly, we are nevertheless captivated and strangely affected by the supernatural. There’s the vampire craze, of course; but angels and demons (thank you, Dan Brown, we cannot use that phrase in exactly the same way ever again), hybrid beings, and mysterious doings are part of the warp and woof of our lives.

Bible and Vampires

There’s Twilight of course, and True Blood, and going back in time a little, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all those Anne Rice novels. I shouldn’t have been surprised to stumble on two more that feature vampires front and center — Moonlight and The Gates. You’d have to live under a rock in the wilderness to be ignorant of the vampire craze. They’re everywhere these days. But did you know there are biblical tie-ins, too? Take this, for example: The Greek word that denotes the evil serpent figure in the Christian book of Revelation is drakon (yes, like “dragon”).
revelation woman_clothed_in_sun dragon.jpgA variation of it became the Romanian word for “devil” — dracul. You can probably see where I’m going with this. Dracul became the nickname of a fifteenth century Transylvanian gent, who belonged to the fraternal society “Order of the Dragon.” His son Vlad Tepes grew up to be the cruel count “Vlad the Impaler,” also known as Dracul, Jr., “the little devil” dracula (being the diminutive form of dracul). Centuries later Bram Stoker came along, and the rest is history. More to come on the blood, the sex, and those ultra long lives… Wha ha-ha ha-ha.

Vampires and Angels

Wonder and awe, wise men and shepherds, and the angels say, “Fear not.” These are the days of extraordinary happenings, and in their very marvelousness, unnerving. The angels say, as biblical angels do, “Fear not,” even while they dazzle and disturb. These are also the days, in pop culture, of vampires — terrifying and dangerous. They, too, go in the between-places, and sometimes act as powerful guardians, just like the angels. Yet vampires and angels are categorically different, as Anne Rice recently noted. Or are they? I’m investigating the biblical shape, ways, and doings of angels, these days. And as I do, I can’t help but think about our fascination with vampires, about life and death, courage and fear. In the biblical Christmas stories, the angels are heralds of life; vampires of death (no, no, they’re not in the xmas stories; you know what I mean). The angels encourage; vampires terrify. But when we dig a little deeper, their roles are more nuanced and the boundaries less clear. And as we dig, we confront our own fascinations and repulsions and the wide wide realms of wonder and awe, mystery and possibility.

Buffy, Vampires, and Co-opting Bible Lingo

I am finally following Donna Freitas‘ enthusiastic recommendation to watch old episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Hey, just because it’s research doesn’t mean it has to be dull. As I investigate how the Bible portrays supernatural beings and places and how that portrayal has influenced pop ideas about evil personified, angels, the undead, heaven, and hell, I’m finding connections everywhere. In “Buffy,” consider how it is that “the anointed” is a little boy… and rules (?) the evil contingent of demons below; and the head vampire called “The Master” rises to life again after three days. Strikes me that a lot of Bible language associated with Jesus is co-opted by the dark side in “Buffy.” More watching to do…