Monday, August 27, 2012

Catholic moments in the book "World War Z"

I recently read World War Z by Max Brooks,  a 2006 novel chronicling a zombie apocalypse. The movie comes out later in 2013. There are a few references I call "Catholic/God moments" in the book––some not so flattering, some quite positive. Mind you, the variations seem to be due to the author's choice of the characters' opinions. The whole book is a compilation of fictional interviews conducted by the narrator. So each chapter is filled with numerous "interviews" with different characters. In general, my sense was that God generally was portrayed favorably if there was any such "message" from the story. Below are the related excerpts I highlighted. My apologies for any excerpts I missed while reading it. Following each excerpt is its corresponding page number/e-reader location.
The narrator interviews a "Philip Adler," a "Catholic" who "joined the throngs of visitors to the pope's wartime refuge." He describes his wife as "Bavarian," and she made a "pilgrimage to Saint Patrick's Cathedral." (108/1899) 
An interviewee named Joe Muhammed claims, "Every year some lawyer or priest or politician tries to stoke that fire for whatever side best suits them." (155/2710) 
The character Roy Elliot, a filmmaker, states: "But I do know that just like all those ex-atheists in foxholes, most Americans were still praying for the God of science to save them." The interviewer responds to that comment with, "But it didn't." The subject responded that "it didn't matter," and that his film documentaries about cutting edge military technology were "psychological war winners." (163/2835) 
Todd Wainio, one of the soldiers interviewed, spoke of his battle partner: "Sister Montoya, fifty-two years old, she'd been a nun, still was I guess. Five three and a buck even, she'd protected her whole Sunday school class for nine days with nothing but a six-foot iron candlestick." (273/4672) 
One of the interviewed characters is "Father Sergei Ryzhkov" of the "Holy Russian Empire." I presume he is Russian Orthodox, but the text is not specific. He details his role as a chaplain during the war. At one point, he states, "soldiers killing themselves had cost the Lord too many good souls. Suicide was a sin, and we, his servants––those who had chosen to be his shepherds upon the earth––were the only ones who should bear the cross of releasing trapped souls from infected bodies!" (My note: In Catholic teaching, suicide does not mean a soul is lost. CCC#2282 states: "Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide." This would relate on the qualifications for a sin to be mortal: CCC#1857  For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.")(294/5044) 
Andre Renard, one of the book's many combatants, describes the horrors of escaping the enemy in underground tunnels: "you dash through the passageways, bash your head on the ceiling, crawl on your hands and knees, praying to the Virgin with all your might for them to hold for just a little longer." (308/5301) 
Maria Zhuganova, another character in the "Holy Russian Empire" remarks: "All that religious dogma, that's for the masses. Give them their opium and keep them pacified. I don't think anyone in the leadership, or even the Church, really believes what they're preaching." (327/5625)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! You suggested I read this on the Catholic Answers Forum. I was the one inquiring about liking the zombie genre.

    It sounds like an interesting read and will give it a try!