April 12, 2009

SLICE OF PIE: The Resurrection of Jesus, Science Fiction and Writing

Newly hatched chicks and duckies, plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets, vernal equinox, flowers and spring planting appear to me as clear signs of Americans trying to defaith a holiday like Easter – just as they defaithed Xmas.

But because the Passion of the Christ and the Resurrection are neither cute nor popular, Easter has remained a true HOLY-day.

Maybe the reason it’s resistant is that there is the persistent mythos of humans “coming back from the dead”. In fantasy, there are vampires – I don’t have to say anything more than TWILIGHT. Science fiction has its fair share of “resurrection” stories from Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN to the movie, ALIEN: RESURRECTION to the sci-fi comic, RESURRECTION.

In the New Testament, Jesus resurrected at least three people from the dead. Two were young people and nameless, but the third person has become synonymous with the idea of bringing the dead back to life. Lazarus lent his name to a real medical diagnosis (Lazarus syndrome) as well as the title of Robert A. Heinlein’s Lazarus Long and Frank Herbert’s THE LAZARUS EFFECT and the “Lazarines” in Marc Steigler’s AnLab and Locus award-winning short story, “Petals of Rose”.

In addition, I think the concept of suspended animation has its roots in resurrection, too. The Egyptians embalmed their kings to “suspend” them between worlds so that they could enjoy the next life. In 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the suspended animation capsules looked suspiciously like mummies…Han Solo was frozen in “carbonite”, Rocket Man was supposed to sleep away the trip to Mars, and the Robinson Family had their animation suspended just before they got LOST IN SPACE.

Christians have always believed that after death, we will be resurrected into everlasting life. That’s the whole point of my celebration of Easter – Jesus died to settle my account of sin with the Father God. Jesus was obedient: He took on the sins of all Humanity and rose again after his death. By having a one-on-one relationship with Jesus, I am covered by His sacrifice that will end up with life after death.

Science fiction writers – and I suppose readers as well – continue to explore the ideas of life after death. Without Jesus, that life after death must still end with death somewhere along the way whether it’s a thousand years or a billion. With Jesus, life after death will never end.


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