Being Christian – Confessions of a Repentant Vampire

Warning: Contains possible spoilers

My, what big teeth you have!

Would you like to join a Bible study?

I’m a big fan of Toby Whithouse’s BBC3 drama Being Human. If you’re not familiar with the series, you should check it out, but the basic conceit is a sort of supernatural flatshare, with a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire living together in the same house.

One of the main plot strands is about the resident vampire’s struggles to avoid killing and drinking blood, with some fascinating side issues to deal with. Being a vampire, he’s old – much older than he looks – and has previously been both powerful and respected in what I suppose could be termed the “vampire community”, but by staying “teetotal” he’s lost all of that and now finds himself quite isolated, struggling on his own to change and do what he thinks is right, while others attack and kill with impunity.

The other aspect that interests me is that of recruiting. Vampires don’t always kill their victims – they can also recruit them, creating a new vampire, and this week’s episode revolved around such a case. A vampire called Cutler was attempting to persuade Hal, the reformed vampire, to return to the fold, offering him a glass of blood to drink and talking of how powerful he could be and how much he was missed. This was interspersed with flashbacks, during which we discovered that Hal had originally recruited Cutler back in the 1950s. We also saw him pressuring a nervous, resistant Cutler to take his first drink of blood, and eventually succeeding, just as Cutler did with his present-day offer.

This all seems quite familiar to me. It seems to be a pretty good analogy for what it might feel like if I finally leave the church. I’d be following my conscience, but I’d still be separating myself from a whole culture that I’ve spent a lot of time in, and which I’ve always found pretty supportive. And then there’s the recruitment.

I should clarify before I go any further that I’m not saying that Christians are vampires, bloodsuckers, or anything else. I’m not even saying there is or should be anything wrong with being a Christian. My imperfect ad hoc analogy from popular culture is much looser than that, and makes no moral judgment. I just found this storyline rather pertinent to my situation.

But it was the idea of recruiting that really hammered this home for me. It was the thought that I could walk away from the church and leave behind people who wouldn’t be Christians but for my efforts, and who would then consider that they had a responsibility to change my mind. I may resent that or feel uncomfortable about it, but I’d have no grounds for complaint, given that I did the same thing with the roles reversed. And if I feel that Christians are mistaken, my “escape” would be tempered by the knowledge that I led others into that error.

That’s what makes Hal’s relationship with Cutler so poignant. If it hadn’t been for him, Cutler would have led a normal, boring life. Having recruited him and subsequently forsaken blood, the pain of Hal’s inner struggle is amplified. Cutler’s very existence is a constant reminder of who Hal used to be and how much has changed, and despite his own abstinence, if Cutler remains a bloodsucker, Hal will know that he is indirectly responsible for any resulting deaths.

Major upheavals in belief or understanding are difficult. When we leave indelible marks on the lives of others through causes we once believed in but now doubt or reject, it does nothing to make the transition any easier.

Photo by jdurham, used under morgueFile Free License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

10 responses to “Being Christian – Confessions of a Repentant Vampire”

  1. sixpointnineme says :

    …”I’m not even saying there is or should be anything wrong with being a Christian”.

    As an agnostic or an atheist the thought of believing in a supreme being that is all caring, all knowing just does not seem right. And while many Christians have their heart in the right place…their brain is just way out there. You cannot believe from a scientific standpoint.

    You can be a perfectly good citizen a role model if you will, without the need for religion. It is feasible to be an agnostic in a Christian community. You will probably not be subject to much scorn. You know, you are not saying “God does not exist” you are only saying “I am not sure”. Declaring atheism is another thing, you could be considered right down untrustworthy, just about the same as a rapist.http://bit.ly/siEPgd

    I can understand your angst over how (it appears) you helped convince or convert members of you community. And it would not be weird for some of them to approach you and try the get you back in the flock. That is the time when you have to calmly explain your current view of things, offer your continued friendship and also be firm in making clear that you want them to respect your views as you respect their beliefs. We can all get along, as long as we respect each other as persons and acknowledge the right to differ.

    I understand the part about being in the community, and that breaking away is difficult. Coming out is hard for some and near impossible for others. The
    prospect of losing family and friends is daunting. And in some cases the possibility of losing your job, business or in extreme cases, the idea of bodily harm. You will have to weigh those factors in.

    You need to know that you are not alone, there are many like you in the world.

    “Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.”
    ― John Adams

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Thanks. I think there’s an interesting blogpost in the ethics of evangelism, both for and against religion.

      I don’t necessarily expect to be assailed by evangelist wannabes if I were to come out, but the knowledge of how I encouraged others to join the church makes it an unsettling prospect. If I deconvert, it’s effectively admitting that I’ve led others into a lie with my half-arsed evangelism.

      That’s a difficult thing to accept, just like I know of people who have stuck with it because their family have believed it for X generations, and they can’t cope with the idea that they were all wrong.

      I don’t want to deny my feelings because of that, and I hope I wouldn’t, but I have to confess that it doesn’t make it easy.

  2. raintreebranches says :

    a friend told me of a similar situation recently (the person who first brought her to christianity deconverted) and I couldn’t help wondering, shouldn’t this, wouldn’t this affect my friend? wouldn’t it cause her to doubt? I mean, given the relationship she probably hold the other person in high esteem, and given that the person has obviously experienced belief first hand and strongly and yet is able to walk away…

    but i didn’t think of it as what you stated here: that the one who still believes might feel responsible to bring the other person back.

    … conversely, would the deconverted party feel any sort of responsibility to deconvert those they originally converted?

    mm. just wondering haha.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      That’s part of what I’m getting at, although deconverting is obviously rather tricky with vampires. Suddenly, a friendship can go through a very odd patch as the convert wants to reconvert a deconverted ex-Christian, while the deconverted party may feel an obligation to correct their own perceived mistake by deconverting their own convert. If you follow me.

      It may even break the friendship, but it’s bound to be painful for both parties.

      • raintreebranches says :

        haha XD “as the convert wants to reconvert a deconverted ex-christian” is an amusing tongue twister but yeah, I do get what you mean.

        I think it’s pretty sad if religions comes between a friendship (wouldn’t we like to think our friends accepts us regardless of our likes, dislikes, beliefs etc?), but undoubtedly it can and does happen…

  3. 2012 and all that says :

    A very good analogy; I can’t see that anybody would take offence at your comparison unless they had a severe case of victim complex.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Thank you. I like analogies, and probably overuse them, but they can be problematic, because there are always extraneous bits which could cause trouble. I found it a good fit, but as I started writing it, I was thinking “oh nuts, this could easily be misunderstood.”

  4. Joan Barleycorn (dorothea) says :

    Were you an evangelical? I’m a Christian (of sorts perhaps!) but I’ve never tried to recruit others. The world recruit makes me think of an army, organisation or secret network rather than a faith (although I can see the need to operate underground should the situation require it.) I actually think God calls us, or at least I think he called me. No one recruited me, I just turned up! Although I was partly socialised into Christianity from quite a young age.

    Being Human, which I enjoy, works in part – despite the horror it’s essentially a comedy – as a light hearted universal analogy, We all have our self and our shadow to deal\come to term with, just like the characters in the series.

  5. Joan Barleycorn says :

    Ah…hadn’t read the other comments re: Evangelicalism. Being Human also means having the courage to be who one is. Admitting I had Christian leanings to some of mates felt a bit like coming out! Not quite as traumatic I know.

  6. Sheldon says :

    I actually think the vampire analogy is rather perfect, by the end, fundamentalism was starting to suck the life out of me ;) I’m sure you have felt the same way at one point.

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