Sunday, May 11, 2008

Zombies

The term "zombie," I am given to understand, originally was a snake deity from West Africa which found its way to Haiti with the slaves. Eventually, the term came to mean one who had died but had been recalled to life, generally under the control of an evil witch using forms of gris-gris and ju-ju, and then put to bad purpose. (There is some evidence that drugs were used to give the illusion of death, and to maintain control of the stoned folks after they got dug up, even a pretty bad movie -- The Serpent and the Rainbow -- made using this premise. Of course, that's pretty much rendundant isn't it, "Zombies" and "bad movie ... ?")

But whilst reading an article in The New Yorker on, of all things, contemporary artists doing stained glass windows for churches, written by Peter Schjeldahl, I came across this about one of the churches, a very old one found in Zurich:

"The Grossm√ľnster was built as a Catholic church on the site of a fancy miracle: in the year 286, St. Felix, St. Regula,and St. Exuperantius, decapitated for clinging to their faith, picked up their heads and climbed to the top of a hill, where they dug graves and buried themselves."

That's a pretty neat trick.

Not being a Catholic and knowing very little about such things, I do seem to recall that to be canonized by the Church and to get the "Saint" honorific before your name, you had to have performed a miracle or two and they had to be witnessed and verified.

I certainly think this would beat turning water to wine all hollow. More, I believe that, had I been the Emperor Maximian and word got back to me after I'd had people of the Christian faith beheaded, I would have serious doubts about continuing such a policy, since the Roman gods couldn't compete with that kind of mojo, no way, no how ...

2 comments:

Mike said...

Some people will do anything to get ahead. But in this case, they got ahead of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Heh. On the other hand, if all the bodies do when you behead them is to bury themselves, you might think, "Yes, okay, their god is real, too, but its not like the dead retaliated against us. If anything, their god made the lives of our Roman authorities easier by taking care of the burial. If only every sect's gods were that considerate."

As for sainthood, if I remember correctly, I think martyrdom was enough for sainthood in the early Church. It was later that they figured they had enough saints-by-martyrdom and made the rules stricter, including miracle working.