Roundtable: Mormons & the Zombie Apocalypse

BCC has never shied away from difficult topics. Indeed, throughout its history, bloggers and friends of BCC have often convened into roundtable discussions to address some of the sticky issues that face us as a religion and as human beings. Past discussions have dealt with depression, correlation, historicity, and the status of women in the church. Today, BCC Labs continues this fine tradition by talking about zombies.

Steve Evans, Scott B., Sir Ronan, Matt Page, and guest Matt Bowman have graciously taken the time to contribute their thoughts to this timely discussion. For simplicity, and in order to ensure the broadest possible application, the panelists have adopted only a couple of ground rules:

  • Zombies are not alive. They are not ordinary humans with a rage-virus. They are the undead. So 28 Days Later is not zombie canon, nor are we talking about Caribbean voodoo spells.
  • Zombies are (generally) not very fast or very smart. Romero films, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, Zombieland–all acceptable canon.

BCC Labs: If I baptise a zombie, does it count towards my stats? e.g., can a zombie be saved?

Ronan:
A zombie is a dead person and we already baptise the dead so I think a case can be made that they count. This is “baptism for the dead,” is it not? They are also corporeal so a proxy is not necessary. Presumably their resurrection has occurred via maleficent means, probably not of their own doing, which makes them all the more deserving of the saving power of priesthood ordinances.

Scott:
Ronan, although I’m not sure it negates your point, zombies are not dead. As Steve pointed out, they are undead.

Ronan:
Well, the denizens of the spirit world are not dead either in an eternal sense, so I think you are splitting hairs. We make no differentiation between “alive” and “dead” as understood by gentiles for the purposes of baptism, so I think Mormonism has little theological interest in the ontology of mortality.

Scott:
Actually, I think that the status of being “undead” bears some more thought here. Setting aside (for the moment) the issue of whether baptism is either needed or available for zombies, their not-living yet not-dead status raises the very important question of baptismal locale. To wit, if the zombie in question was dead–the ordinance takes place in a dedicated font in the temple, per the instructions in the Doctrine & Covenants. If the zombie in question was alive, then the ordinance would rightfully be conducted in a standard LDS meetinghouse, preceded by a brief talk about the ordinance of baptism, and followed by a testimony of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, a hearty welcome from the local Bishop (or one of his counselors, if the Bishop has been eaten), and refreshments.

But the Handbook of Instructions is entirely silent on where undead people are baptised.

Matt Bowman:
Well, the question is whether a zombie is past the age of accountability or not. I suspect that zombies lack real agency, so they don’t need baptism for salvation in the first place, but rather ascend directly to the celestial kingdom after having their heads exploded. However, I, for one, would baptize a zombie for its health. As Elder John Widtsoe has taught us that there is no difference between science and religion, I would imagine that such a baptism might disrupt whatever flows of luminiferous ether are keeping them alive. Sort of like Lazarus in reverse.

Steve:
The last Romero movie further muddies the water, by the way, because it is strongly suggested that at least some zombies have limited cognitive function, including decision-making ability.

BCC Labs: What’s your weapon of choice during the zombie apocalypse?

Steve:
Longbow or bust. Good luck to you crossbow fanatics.

Ronan:
Having often been told I’m “just like Simon Pegg,” it’s obviously LPs, preferably old MoTab vinyls that they used to press in the 60s. That way my weapon has Mormon retro cool.

Matt Bowman:
Crossbow. The end.

Scott:
Brother Bowman, the Crossbow is not an acceptable form of zombie slaying for Mormons.

As everyone knows, the term “Crossbow” is a construction of the terms “cross” and “bow.” It is likewise obvious that “cross” refers to the crucifix–a symbol of Christ’s death. While there may indeed be some innate power in weapons that reference the Savior, what may have escaped you, however, is that “bow” is a homograph for “bow,” meaning “to kneel before.” Thus, “cross-bow” is clearly an apostate Christian weapon, as it literally means “Worship the Cross.” Latter-day Saints reject such symbolism, instead choosing to celebrate the Atonement in its entirety.

Matt Page:
Can a zombie be healed with a blessing? I mean if you were to restrain them long enough to give them a blessing? Or are they too far gone to come back?

Because if they can, then maybe our weapon of choice should be faith. And consecrated oil. And a rope.

Scott:
Breastplates of righteousness, shields of faith–the whole armor of God, really–would probably be necessary to withstand the gnashing teeth of a zombie who doesn’t want to submit to priesthood authority. Still–call it weak faith if you want, but my weapon of choice is Ripley’s flame thrower duct-taped to a grenade gun.

BCC Labs: Suppose that you are interviewing a zombie for a temple recommend, and you sense that he/she has a habit of regularly feasting upon the brains of living people. Does this practice violate the Word of Wisdom?

Ronan:
I would say “eat meat sparingly” should be taken into account, but no-one care about that anymore. Better to eat someone’s brain than to drink a tea.

Steve:
Killing people to eat their brains is, strictly speaking, a no-no per the Ten Commandments. However, meat is fine to eat in times of winter, so if this is a mid-Feb TR interview, I’d cut him or her some slack, just so long as the zombie in question isn’t drinking Coca-Cola.

Matt Page:
Brains are not for the body or the belly – well kind of for the body – especially the head part of the body. I dunno. I guess it’s cool as long as he/she eats them sparingly.

Scott:
To me, it really boils down to addiction, choice, and commitment. Using the gift of discernment, an authorized priesthood leader should be able to determine whether the zombie has a mere “tendency” or “inclination” for feasting on brains that can be suppressed, or if the zombie is “wired” biologically such that no amount of self-discipline or faith will prevent a relapse into feeding frenzy.

BCC Labs: If you are a bishop, RS president, EQ president, or other auxiliary leader, what callings in your organization would you feel comfortable filling with zombies?

Matt Bowman:
The Sunday school presidency, of course.

Matt Page:
Compassionate Service Committee

Steve:
Activities Committee, for sure, or Sunday School Presidency.

Scott:
At first I was going to criticize your placement of zombies on the Activities Committee, because that would totally suck.

Then, of course, I realized that most activities already suck, so it’s not really that big of a deal.

Steve:
Right, how would the quality of youth dances and linger-longers really be impacted were the committee composed of the ravenous undead?

Matt Bowman:
Heck, most youth dances appear basically populated by zombies already. Awkwardness, swaying, unmitigated ravenous appetites for the bodies of others held in check only by powerful adults.

Steve:
Precisely right. There’s a reason Mormons love those Thriller re-enactments so much… it’s basically art holding up the mirror to life (or un-life as luck would have it).

Scott:
Matt, are you suggesting that the oft-used rule of thumb “Leave room for a Quadruple Combination” isn’t so much about chastity as it is about physical protection from bite wounds?

Steve:
Hugging during church dances is also discouraged, for similar reasons.

Matt Bowman:
At church dances, leave enough room for a chainsaw to swing freely in between the two of you. Just in case.

BCC Labs: Suppose that all efforts at converting the zombies to Mormonism have failed, and the hordes are closing in. You plan on making a last stand in the stake center, and have time to alert only a few ward members of your safe haven. Given the skills and abilities associated with various callings, which ward members do you want in your bunker?

Steve:
Tough call. I’d place a premium on survival skills and keeping a cool head amongst panic. Clearly Ward Emergency Preparedness Coordinator would be pretty good if they know their stuff, or perhaps a really good scoutmaster. Failing that, nursery leaders are pretty unflappable. A Patriarch would be great — always helps to have an oracle’s view of the future when the apocalypse comes to call.

Matt Bowman:
The ward Danites, clearly.

Scott:
If there was any kind of sense that whatever makes you a zombie is genetic, I’d probably want the Family History Consultant. That way, if we came across any other survivors and attempt to establish a new society, we’d be able to do the relevant background checks.

Matt Page:
Facility Maintenance Coordinator. I am not just saying that because that’s my calling. I think once we all secure the conference center, we’re going to need to do some cleaning up.

BCC Labs: Which ward members would you least want hiding in your bunker, and be therefore most willing to turn over to the brain-munchers?

Matt Page:
For ones I’d hate to have, Ward Librarian. That calling is a magnet for the kind of people I would like to see eaten by the undead.

Steve:
Let the undead chew on the bones of the Activities Committee and Sunday School Presidency. If I find them in there eating my powdered eggs I’ll feed them to Big Daddy (see e.g.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_of_the_Dead).

Ronan:
Yeah, you definitely let the zombies eat the Sunday School presidency. For the first time in their callings they will be performing a useful service.

Scott:
Whoever the guy is that calls and asks me about Home Teaching every month.

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    I look to Stapley and Kris W. for clarification surrounding baptisms for the health of the undead.

  2. Mark Brown says:

    When I’m in my bunker hiding from zombies, all I will need is the gold I bought from Glenn Beck.

  3. Mark Brown says:

    Are the undead already resurrected? Or does BCC labs recommend that its readers perform the handshake test?

  4. I was going to link to my old post on zombies, when I realized that there were lots of old zombie posts. The obsession is spreading like a virus.

  5. Steve Evans says:

    I don’t recommend the handshake test.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    Also, what is the church position on the agency of zombies? Were they born that way, or is it a conscious choice? Is there an objection to zombiehood in general, or only to zombie behavior?

  7. Let’s say my son has become a zombie and he was just a baby before becoming undead. Will I get to raise him in the millennium, do I have to raise him with his behavior problems in the here-and-now, or is it just eternal baby zombies on thrones?

  8. I believe Benjamin F. Johnson wrote a letter in 1903, in which he addressed not only the propriety of zombie baptism for health, but also that their baptism for health would be performed by the council of fifty, thus preserving the constitution which hangs by a thread during the apocalypse.

  9. …Oliver Huntington also wrote about it in the Young Women’s Journal.

  10. If I’m barricaded with you in the stake center (and not one of those trying to break in, which is entirely possible), I want that guy at BYU-I who made the skinny jeans rule. That guy can keep anybody out.

  11. Dang, J.! I was going to post a collection of Oliver Huntington’s best as tomorrow’s Keepa post, and you’ve blabbed on the best one of all!

  12. J (#8): I’m both enthralled and ashamed that I’m nerdy enough to laugh hysterically at your reference.

  13. Sisters can be sealed to multiple men if the parties are all dead. So can a sister zombie be sealed to multiple undead brother zombies?

  14. On #6, I think experience has shown that evolution takes its toll on zombies. Eventually those which have a modicum of instinct for self-preservation will be selected for, causing an acceleration in selection of those with a conscience. In other words, they will eventually become just us. At this point in zombie evolution, human spirits will be embodied in “zombies” who are then impossible to distinguish from “us humans.” The End.

  15. Adris’s skinny jeans for BCotW.

    I’d like to have a member of the Stake Presidency with me (assuming it’s a decent presidency) that knows all the numbers to Salt Lake. I’m also assuming Church Headquarters has a helicopter somewhere and can punch through the roof to hoist us to safety before we’re eaten.

    Otherwise I would want the Emergency Preparedness dude as he probably knows which houses have the best food storage.

  16. Also, I should add, “baptise” in not a word, and therefore much of (what must now be termed speculative) discussion of pure fantasy.

  17. Whoa, whoa, whoa, given my recent post on “The Walking Dead,” how was I not invited to this round table? Srsly.

  18. Bryan Buchanan says:

    I see two elephants in the room that we’re avoiding:
    1. do they tithe on net brains eaten or gross brains eaten?
    2. do said brains have shredded carrots in them?

  19. Steve Evans says:

    Blair, the fact is that we are talking about our doctrines here, and not the fanciful speculations to which you are wont.

  20. “The Sunday school presidency, of course.”
    !
    As SS Pres., I take exception to that! Counselors are entirely different of course. Everyone knows zombies are yes-men.

  21. I really love you guys.

  22. I have great experience with the undead, as I am High Priests group leader in our ward. They are actually pretty docile if you don’t rile them up be mentioning Harry Reid, Jon Huntsman, or Katharine Heigle.

  23. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’m mostly clueless about all things zombie, but at our house we refer to a 72-hour kit as a “zombie kit.”

  24. Steve,

    I find myself disappointed that you don’t want ME in your foxhole. I assure you that, when it comes to important things such as mercury fulminate and the ability to hand load the needed rounds, I have the most reliable year’s supply in the ward.

    Sniff.

    Mogs

  25. My emergency preparedness supplies already say Apocalypse Kit on the side, but I think I may change that to Zombie Kit now.

  26. I’m surprised you guys didn’t put this in a historical context.

  27. People still use Hg fulminate?

  28. JD Dancer says:

    This post is going to do wonders for Cynthia L.’s Q&A series. One hopes.

  29. Steve Evans says:

    Mogs, the question was calling-based, but there’s no question you’re in the shit with me.

  30. Clark Goble says:

    Anyone notice how the purported John Taylor vision (well actually an unnamed vision Wilford Woodruff found and recorded in his journal) sounds like a zombie apocalypse?

    I was next in the City of Baltimore and in the square where the Monument of 1812 Stands, in front of St. Charles and other Hotels I saw the Dead piled up so high as to fill the square. I saw Mothers Cut the throats of their own Children for the sake of their blood, which they drank from their veins to quench their thirst and then lie down and die. The water of the Chesapeake and of the City were so stagnant and such a stench arose from them on account of the putrefaction of Dead bodies that the very smell Caused Death and that was singular again I saw no men except they were dead, lying in the streets, and vary few women, and they were Crazy mad, and in a dying Condition. Every whare I went I beheld the same all over the City, And it was horrible, beyond description to look at.

    I thought this must be the End. But No I was seemingly in Philadelphia, and there every thing was Still. No living soul was to be seen to greet me, and it seemed as though the whole City was without an inhabitant. In arch and Chestnut Street and in fact Every whare I went the putrefaction of the Dead bodies Caused such a stench that it was impossible for any Creature to Exhist alive, nor did I see any living thing in the city.

    I next found myself in Broad way New York and here it seemed the people had done their best to overcome the disease. But in wandering down Broadway I saw the bodies of Beautiful women lying stone dead, and others in a dying Condition on the side walk. I saw men Crawl out of the Cellars and rob the dead bodies of the valuables they had on and before they Could return to their coverts in the cellars they themselves would roll over a time or two and die in agony.

    On some of the back street I saw Mothers kill their own Children and Eat raw flesh and then in a few minutes die themselves. Wharever I went I saw the same scenes of Horror and Desolation rapine and Death. No Horses or Carriages, No busses or Street Cars, but Death and Destruction every whare.

  31. I, for one, hold “Monsters and Mormons” to be the fifth Standard Work.

  32. As usual, the men ignore Mormon Zombie women’s experiences in this discussion. It’s just another example of how Zombie women are undervalued and oppressed. For example, I would like someone to address the question of how can we help Zombie women feel like they have value and purpose in a church that emphasizes motherhood so much? How do you think Zombie women feel in Relief Society week after week, hearing lessons about how creating new life is the highest and noblest calling in this life, when they can only create new undead, not new life? No wonder there are so many inactive Zombie women. And how do you think all the talk about modesty makes Zombie women feel? Look, just because their clothes are often ripped to shreds, exposing oozing, gangrenous flesh, doesn’t mean that they should be held responsible for the thoughts that puts in the heads of the young men.

  33. FTW!

  34. Best. Discussion. Ever. – and that’s saying something when you include the PBR posts. Too many BCofW possibilities to even start trying to nominate anything – although kevinf’s #22 . . .

  35. Mark Brown says:

    Thanks for the good pointers in this discussion. I just have a few questions.

    1. Should zombie mothers be allowed to nurse their babies in sacrament meeting? Some people might be grossed out by the sight of decaying flesh, but shouldn’t the baby zombie’s needs take precedence?

    2. If you are the ward preparedness coordinator, what kind of food storage should you recommend for the zombie members?

    3. Is it permissible for zombie students in graduate school to go on welfare or food stamps?

    4. My daughter wants to date a zombie boy, what do you think? He is over 16 and is not a porn addict, so is it OK for them to date? This is very important to her, especially after her bad experience with that Cullen boy.

  36. And of course zombie congregations would never mind when the hymns drag. I hear they especially enjoy “How Great Thou Art” at 1/4 tempo.

  37. (this thread needs “like” buttons really badly. consider #36 liked.)

  38. Unfortunately, we condone video games so much that its quite likely our entire religious demographic would be wiped out. More than likely, our inactive neighbors (the ones packing more bullets than dried beans with their food storage) will refuse to become active again.

  39. That dodgy Taylor prophesy in #30 will be my hometeaching message this month.

  40. People still use Hg fulminate?

    Sometimes the traditional methods are still the best, J. Stapley! However, to respond seriously, not me. Plenty of vanity rounds w/o the excitement that HgFul can add to life to be had these days.

    Mogs, the question was calling-based…

    OK. I guess I can allow as how there might be a few women, somewhere in deepest, darkest Africa, who teach the teenagers in SS but don’t have a nice suite of military-style rifles, or don’t keep the emergency stash of ammo in the bottom of the TV console. To each her own.

    Mogs

  41. You all neglected the most important thing, in case of a zombie apocalypse: make sure you have enough brains in your food storage to not only feed yourselves, but also the invaders!
    And if you also feed them green jello, they’re bound to become docile.

    I can’t believe I have to save everyone, when the solution is so easy! Don’t watch the films, they never win in those things. Follow the prophet and get your storage in.

  42. My biggest issue with the zombie apocalypse comes down to ethics. I mean, no doubt I would probably lure hundreds, maybe thousands, of zombies into a constrained area, say a stadium, with my body/brains as bait and then run up into my prearranged machine gun nest in the press boxes and proceed to open up on the lot of them. But my conscience gives me pause–am I justified in laughing and screaming “get some!!!” while my mind elongates the scene into a slow motion gore fest in which I clearly see zombie skulls collapse inward and burst out in chunky sprays and somehow take notice of both the cascading shower of spent shells even while I recognize my ward nemesis just as his face vaporizes and his body reels and falls forward awkwardly on his left shoulder on top of an uneven pile and I quickly tabulate my remaining rounds and remind myself to save one for me, just in case.

    I want to survive as long as I can but I don’t want to lose my soul and all. Not worth it to me.

  43. I spent 20 years in the military. Our motto was: kill them all. Let God sort them out.

    And if it would make you feel any better, you could do their family history work and do baptisms for the undead (new doctrine. See D&C 139).

  44. I claim Mogget for my fox hole. Granted that might sound weird. But I remember this post:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2008/10/the-pre-4-november-gun-thread/

    The ward emergency prep coordinator is just being felllowshiped back into activity. I want DOD training.

  45. What if you (a male) are in a bunker, by yourself, and you see the Relief Society President running by screaming? Should you let her in? Does your answer change if your wife may be alive somewhere?

  46. AJ, does your RS Pres and/or your wife still have any brains left? If so, then you may need to process that issue. If neither retains their brains, then perhaps it is a moot question you ask….

  47. You need fingerprints in order to do baptisms for the undead. See Adam G.’s story in Monsters & Mormons for the details.

  48. Clark Goble says:

    oudenos, if it’s any consolation they are already dead. Think of it as a screwed up resurrection you have to fix.

  49. The question of agency inevitably leads to a question of the spirit. Does rising from the dead constitute a true resurrection, or is it that the body has been infused with another spirit, perhaps one of the third of the hosts of heaven? In that case, where is the body’s original spirit, and what anguish might it feel at seeing its mortal receptacle hijacked in such a way?

    Another question: do people with higher IQ have tastier brains? Or are those of lower intelligence, like say our marketing team, tastier because their brains are fat from disuse?

    One thing is for sure: I need to become a better gardener to defend my house.

    http://www.popcap.com/games/plants-vs-zombies/online

  50. This is all soooo profound! I hope you will follow up with discussions concerning religious etiquette in regards to elves, fairies, gnomes, hobbits, and – most importantly – vampires.

  51. Personally, I think being a zombie is just a lifestyle choice. They aren’t born as zombies, but it is most likely an environmental issue. I’m sure they could overcome it with a little will power. While some think they are only looking for brains, I think they are looking for acceptance and equal rights.

  52. I suspect that the Utah Mormon zombies will be soft, and not as well-suited to survive adversity as the LDS zombies out in the “mission field.”

  53. Steve Evans says:

    Larryco, it’s already established that vampires can be mormon. Ask Stephenie Meyer.

  54. And Hobbits are obviously just Mormons with a Word of Wisdom problem.

  55. StillConfused says:

    THis has got to be the best post ever. I wanted to comment on every comment because they are so awesome. But I will sum it up with just one question, What the freak did that guy eat before he had that nasty vision? (#30)

  56. Ummmm. Maybe brains????

  57. StillConfused says:

    Dear BCC Labs, I am laughing hysterically reading this but my husband just doesn’t get why it is so funny. Ergo, he is not very fast or smart. Could he be a zombie or in some pre-zombie phase? Note: he has not yet feasted on my brains or chased me with salt and pepper in hand.

    What is the acceptable test for determining zombie status?

  58. No testing…too risky. Rule #2: Double tap.

  59. SC #56, Best thing to do is shoot him in the head. If he is a zombie, then you have saved your entire town. If he was just a slow and stupid husband, then you’ll have increased the IQ of your town by several points. Either way, you’ll be considered a hero….

  60. #42, you dredged up a beloved memory – Zombie Flanders. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jspw0597t7Y

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