“Zombies and Theology”

“Zombies and Theology” a seminar with Dr Matthew Tan on Tuesday 27 June, 12 noon to 1.50pm. RVSP here.

In this presentation, Dr Tan will interface postmodern pop culture and its technological context with Christian theology. Dr Tan will explore the fascination with the undead, in particular the fascination with zombies, in contemporary culture. The argument put forward is that the zombie is not just another addition to the monster genre. Instead, the zombie is a theologically-inflected embodiment of both the desires and apprehensions of postmodern culture that is, without realising it, striving towards an immanent, technologically enhanced form of immortality by manufacturing a heaven without God.

Put another way, postmodern cultures – and the cities that house them – desire to bring the glory of immortality into history, whilst suspecting at the same time the inability of mere mortals to bear such a burden. This tension is born out in the pithy Freudian concept of the “Death Drive,” transmitted via Jacques Lacan by the materialist theology of Slavoj Žižek.

This presentation will briefly outline the problematique the “Death Drive” poses to postmodern culture, and will then conclude by considering how the Economy of Salvation by Jesus of Nazareth addresses this problematique – not by erasing it, but by fulfilling the desires that swirl within the “Death Drive.”

Dr Matthew John Paul Tan

Dr Matthew Tan an adjunct Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia, and is the private secretary of Bishop Tony Randazzo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney. Matthew is a Visiting Research Fellow
at the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University in Chicago, under the directorship of Professor William Cavanaugh. Matthew is the author of two books, his most recent being Redeeming Flesh: The Way of the Cross with Zombie Jesus (Cascade in 2016), and Justice, Unity and the Hidden Christ (Pickwick in 2014). He is also the editor of the theological blog, The Divine Wedgie, which is part of the Patheos Catholic blog channel.

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