Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vampire Fascination

I am always thankful for my children, but I'm particularly thankful in this moment in history that I've got boys.

Having boys means that my household is sealed away from the Twilight phenomenon, that squealy tweeny undead juggernaut. In a store the other day with my tweener son, we marveled at a cornucopia of dreamy Edward posters and smoldering Edward throwpillows and yearning Edward blankets and pasty-yet-appealing Edward snuggies. The art-style was one part young black velvet vampire Elvis and three parts Velveeta, and the big guy could do nothing but roll his eyes. "Girls," he muttered.

This isn't really a new thing, not at all. I can recall watching The Lost Boys as a young teen, and the Hunger as an older teen. I still want to see Let the Right One In. I even read one of Ann Rice's books once. You know, when she was writing about vampires, rather than penning soft-core porn novels or strange books about Jesus. I remember feeling that "oh gosh wouldn't it be nifty to be immortal" feeling. Of course, you always wanted to be the "good vampire," the one who only dines on lower forms of life like woodland creatures and talk radio personalities.

But the fascination is there for most of us, with blood and life and death and eternity. Those stories play off against some deep and ancient memes in the human story. Blood and life are woven up together strongly in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Torah, blood...menstrual blood...both gives life and is to be feared. It had power.

Among Jesus people, there's a reason the pagan Romans used to whisper about our strange vampiric feasts. "They gather in secret to drink the blood of their god," they'd say. Frankly, whenever I hear my church praise team singing "Nothing but the bluuuud of Jeeeee-zzuss," I start wondering a bit myself.

I know, of course, that blood is just plasma and corpuscles. We want it to be magic, to contain a secret that could somehow give endless existence, but it does not. It does have the power to give life, but that's only because the iron in our hemoglobin carries the oxygen to fuel the processes of our mammalian metabolism.

Eternal life...immortality...requires a little bit more than that.