Though I don’t agree with it all, this is one interesting, thought-provoking, and helpful book: Incarnate: The Body of Christ and the Age of Disengagement by Michael Frost. In it, Frost argues that humans are becoming less involved with one another in a personal, face to face way. One of his main points is that because of certain technologies, it is possible for people to live disembodied lives, where one can interact online, go to church online, do one-click activism work online (called slacktivism), and generally avoid real and “embodied” relationships. He contrasts excarnate or disembodied living with incarnate, embodied living, making excellent points against the former and arguing in favor of the latter.
In one example, Frost uses the recent zombie craze to make his point. He asks the question, “Why are [zombies] so popular and so enduring as a pop culture device?
“Some have suggested that zombie apocalypse is a more palatable end-of-the world scenario because it’s a truly secular one with no judgmental deities presiding over the fate of humankind. Others have speculated that it’s a cracked, secular version of resurrection. However, culture watcher Dan Birlew suggests the reasons for the popularity of zombie fiction lies somewhere more primal:”
‘There’s an entire world full of walking punching bags. People are now zombies, and you have to kill them before they kill you. So it doesn’t really matter what you do to them, because they’re not people anymore. They’re former people that you can beat down and tear apart in the most gruesome ways you can think of. …Take out all your frustrations in all the ways you ever dreamed, it doesn’t matter anymore. No one’s going to stop you from killing a monster, even if it used to be a person.’
Frost then says that though mowing down zombies is at one level entertaining for some people,
“[It] is horrifying because it too represents our greatest fear: that we are dispensable. While many people are happy to treat their own bodies and those of other people like zombies – casually and indiscriminately – deeper down there’s a sense of horror that our bodies could mean so little.”
Since action scenes where mobs of humans are mowed down (e.g. Rambo) are politically incorrect these days, Frost notes, “we’ve had to resort to killing unhuman objects like zombies for the same effect. And all the while we are picking at the scab of our nagging anxiety of our own indispensability.”
Frost ends the chapter by stating a biblical understanding of the human body: “We are our bodies. We don’t live in our bodies. And therefore our bodies and the bodies of others are precious and worthy of respect (cf. Phil. 1:20-23).
“[Christ’s] bodily resurrection from the dead signaled the Christian hope for the ongoing identity of a person with his or her own body. The body is not a prison to be released from but is the person in a profound sense.”