Vampires vs Christianity

bram-stokers-dracula

There are obviously a lot of stories that deal with vampires, and it’s a rather popular “genre” these days.  (The most popular for some reason is paranormal romance but I’m not going to get into that; that’s a blog post for another time).  Of course with every popular thing, there are going to be haters.  Christians are (unfortunately) known for hating a lot of things, especially things that are seen as dark and creepy.  The main argument I’ve seen that Christians give against vampires is that they are essentially the antithesis of Christianity.

Let me explain what I mean by that.  A lot of people claim that stuff in vampire mythology proves how unChristian they are.  Drinking of blood is seen to be a twisted, perverted version of Holy Communion.  The fact that crosses and holy water is supposed to draw them back shows how evil they are, things like that.  (And of course in the Bible it says somewhere not to drink blood, which is what vampires are all about).

I’m going to give a counter argument.  People are giving vampires too much credit here in the fact that they’re essentially saying, “Look, they are trying their damndest to go against God in every way and are intentionally doing things to be perverted versions of Christian traditions.”  Yeeeeah, I don’t think so.  The whole “drinking blood is a twisted version of communion” bit?  That makes no sense.  Sure, communion is supposed to symbolize drinking Jesus’ blood, but it isn’t supposed to be taken literally.  The point of vampires drinking blood is usually to show an inner animal nature in them.  There are plenty of animals that drink blood and no one (well some people probably do) calls them “evil” or “the antithesis of Christianity”.  That’d just be silly.

The reason for the crosses and holy water is because in Catholicism people believe in the power of symbolism.  Symbols of God/Christianity were supposed to drive away evil.  (The whole garlic thing was an old superstition that was also supposed to drive away evil).  I, personally, am not Catholic and do not believe in symbolism in that way, and even if I did I don’t think it would work out the way it normally does in those vampire stories.  I’d think the only way the power of symbolism could really work is if you truly believed in God to help you, not just “oh look at thing, look at it” and then that’s all.

All right, that’s all well and good.  So maybe vampires aren’t the antithesis of Christianity, but they’re still terrible monsters that are evil.  You shouldn’t ever have stories that show them as not evil, right?  Eh… it depends on how they’re depicted, to be honest.  Vampires are essentially fantastical creatures which aren’t real.  Yes, throughout history there have been many stories and legends of vampires and they’ve all been evil monsters, and who doesn’t love a good monster story?  But the fact of the matter is, vampires in stories nowadays have changed significantly from what they once were.  They aren’t necessarily evil monsters.  They could be humans trying to fight off a monstrous nature.

A lot of vampire stories with “good” vampires in them are stories that are trying to show a deeper nature not only to vampires but to humanity.  Making a character a vampire can be symbolism for something deeper.  Addiction, immortality and watching the world change while you stay the same, struggling with a darker nature inside you and wanting to protect the loved ones around you from yourself.  There is so much you can do with it by just making a character into a vampire.  But a lot of people miss the point because they take things too literally and can’t look deeper into things.

I want to say one last thing on this subject.  I actually made this post due to something that I had remembered reading.  Someone had done a talk (which I didn’t actually hear but a friend of mine told me about) where he apparently was bashing vampires and saying never to make them good in stories.  I read a blog post he wrote which was a “review” of the book Dracula, which is one of my favorite books.  I was curious what he had to say, and after reading it I just wondered if he actually read the book entirely.  He seemed to be taking the whole stance of “vampires are the antithesis of Christianity”, and it’s interesting because the book pretty much says the opposite by the end of it.

Everyone in the book is out to destroy Dracula, the terrible monster that has killed a beloved woman and is after another whom they all love dearly.  They are filled with hatred and a want for revenge.  But then Mina comes in and says this:

“I want you to bear something in mind through all this dreadful time.  I know that you must fight – that you must destroy even as you destroyed the false Lucy so that the true Lucy might live hereafter; but it is not a work of hate.  That poor soul who has wrought all this misery is the saddest case of all.  Just think what will be his joy when he, too, is destroyed in his worser part that his better part may have spiritual immortality.  You must be pitiful to him, too, though it may not hold your hands from his destruction.”

In the end, when Dracula is finally killed, he smiles and has a look of peace on his face because he’s set free.  It’s not a tale about destroying an evil monster, like so many people seem to think (and like the person who wrote that review seemed to think as well).  It’s a story about redemption for a man who seemed so terrible that no one could see his better part.  No one except the woman he hurt so badly, who was loved by so many.  Most people don’t see it that way, but that’s how I see it and that’s why I love it so much.  And that’s why it frustrates me so much when people just go and are like “yeah, vampires are pure evil and basically the devil, kill them all!”

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write stories where vampires are evil monsters – no I actually like seeing them as monsters.  But I just want to say that you shouldn’t condemn something just for being a monster – or for what has for many years been perceived as a monster, especially since they have changed so much since then.  Just because someone looks like a monster doesn’t necessarily mean they are an irredeemable monster.

On that note, you should go watch Only Lovers Left Alive.  It’s a great movie about a few vampires just living their lives.  They’re normal people, except they’re immortal, and occasionally drink blood (but it’s shown as more almost being addicted to drugs in a way).  Also it has a great love story in it that is between a husband and wife that is actually real love and not just weird seductive romance that so many other vampire things try to do nowadays. (I apologize for the shameless plug but seriously, go see it, it’s great)

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Shameless plug for an awesome movie

 

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