...for the blood is the life...-Deuteronomy 12:23b
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins...-William Cowper
For much of my young life, the only movies I saw were horror movies. Every Saturday night, my sisters and I gathered in my darkened room in front of a black and white TV set to watch "Fantastic Features."
Our "monster of ceremonies," Sivad, would open the crypts of horror moviedom and present the classics: Frankenstein, Wolfman and of course Dracula.
Scary stuff for youngsters in a dark room. But in spite of the thrills and chills, I never really believed in any of it.
But, as I noted in a previous post, there must be an underlying basis in fact for this stuff to be halfway scary, to strike a chord of fear within our hearts.
My two favorite authors of vampire lore are Bram Stoker (of course) and Anne Rice, who agree that the way in which one partakes of the vampire's eternal undeadness (which is different from immortality, right?) is to drink of his blood. Anne Rice calls it the "Dark Gift."
So have these two come up with some sort of documentation of vampirism, a basis in reality?
Well of course not, but it reminds me of something I have been looking into lately: the sacrament of the Lord's Supper (please, dear reader, read on before you accuse me of blasphemy).
Examining the legend of Vlad Tepes, one wonders if the vampiric drinking of blood may be a perversion of the sacrament. Francis Coppola suggested as much in the opening of his filmic depiction of the Dracula legend.
Vampire legends apparently have been around for quite a long time and it may be that the medieval Church turned these superstitions to its own purposes. In fact there are practices in today's Protestant Church which have their beginnings in pagan rites and rituals, adapted in earliest times for use in Christian worship.
I am not suggesting that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is such a practice. Its institution by Christ at the Last Supper is clearly stated in all four gospels and reiterated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.
I am positing that as the church spread through the wildernesses of Europe, it played upon these fears (as it was wont to do) for the avowed purpose of drawing pagan unbelievers to Christ.
Another subject for another time and I will only say here that the Gospel is effective unto salvation and man-made devices, however well-intended, are superfluous to the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit and generally cause more harm than good.
But I digress.
There are reasons why I say that these myths might be viewed as perversions of biblical reality.
Note the reversal of roles, for example. The biblical doctrine of Christ's sacrificial atonement depict the shedding of the blood of the all-powerful Anthropos, the man-god, to give life to the weak and helpless. Those dead in sin, as Paul states the fact.
The powerful undead prey upon the weak in all vampire lore, no matter how sexy a spin the authors of such tales might put on the matter. Indeed, they draw their very sustenance from those weaker than themselves. A perversion of Christian teaching.
Christ rose from His tomb to give life to his elect. Dracula rises from his tomb to inflict death, horror and misery.
I will say that the Church clearly identified vampires as satanic in nature. This is a thing which is sadly lacking in the recent culture of unbelief. An unbelief, I might add, which goes back further in time than just the past decade or so.
Vampires for giggles and the occasional chill up the spine? I'm not opposed to it. But as vampires become sexier and somehow the notion of romantic love is twisted into the story, I believe we might do well to consider the possible sources of our fascination.
And to reflect upon the very real, only true alternative to eternal undeadness.There is a fountain, as William Cowper notes in that beloved hymn, and in that fountain alone is the source of life everlasting.
And as for dressing up to frighten one's children? All I can say is that I have been redeemed and forgiven for my sins of which I have heartily repented.
And may you, my daughters, follow the example of your Saviour and forgive a foolish old man.