Being Christian – Confessions of a Repentant Vampire
Warning: Contains possible spoilers
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