The old icons and heroes are gone. It is best just to deal with it. No one is above reproach since we are all in this human morass together. Nevertheless, I’ve always held a soft spot in my cynical heart for Abraham Lincoln. I know he wasn’t perfect, but he stood for an issue that has been a driving force for my life: fairness. Now I see that he was a vampire hunter. After having read Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies last year, I’ve decided to give a try to his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. My fascination with monsters and religion has not been disappointed in this fanciful story.
Our quasi-fictional honest Abe begins his vampire-slaying ways when he learns that, yes, a vampire killed his mother. As a boy of only twelve, he finds the knowledge stressful to the point of burning the family Bible that he used to read to his departed mother. Why? In Abraham’s own (fictitious) words: “How could I worship a God who would permit [vampires] to exist? A God that had allowed my mother to fall prey to their evil?” I admit that I was secretly pleased to see the classic issue of theodicy being raised in a story concerned with the undead. It is the dilemma of all who want to see a good God behind all the suffering in the world. It is a dilemma that stems from the same deep wells as our inhuman monsters. We can imagine a better world, but we can’t have it.
As I see New Jersey’s governor Christie (for whom I decidedly did not vote!) slashing away again and again like Freddie Kruger at the state’s educational system, I see the twin peaks of vampirism and theodicy peering distantly over the horizon. I am deeply disturbed by the facile disregard this “visionary” Republican has for the future of his own state, for the future of our children. And I am forcefully reminded once again that vampires are symbolic of all those who prey upon the unwary. When staring into the fireplace on a cold night, I imagine myself standing beside Grahame-Smith’s fictional Abraham Lincoln, wondering what god it is that vampires worship.