Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Are Vampires Damned? [You're The Expert]

I've been thinking a lot about vampires lately and the various different lores that accompany them. You know, there are vamps that sparkle, vamps that can walk in daylight, vamps that only drink from animals, vamps that kill entire Alaskan towns in the winter... I could go on.

The thing that most of these legends seem to have in common is that the soul of the human turned into a vampire is lost forever, and that person/soul is damned for all eternity. What I can't wrap my head around is why. Why would someone who was turned into a vampire against their will be damned?

I know that as a Christian, and with my particular theology, your eternal progression is determined by what you do with your agency during your time on earth. Since there is no way that an unwilling neophyte vamp could have prevented him or herself from being turned, wouldn't their damnation be determined by how they conduct themselves during their period of bloodsucking? Wouldn't it be determined by their conscious actions rather than physical reactions? Sure, I could see the girl who wants to become a vampire to obtain eternal life so that she can hang with her hottie being damned - she made a choice. I can see why the "vegetarian" vampires make sense if they weren't damned... in that sense, striving to maintain their humanity would just be a trial on their way toward heaven if they got it right.

I've learned about the other big religions, but am by no means an expert. Is there a theology out there that believes in punishment for you for things that happen to you, or that others determine your fate? (I'm literally asking here, not being cheeky)

Of course, I realize that vampires are not real. At least I hope they're not. But I have to wonder about this flaw I perceive in their lore. If you have any insight for me, please help enlighten me, because the research I've been doing about the subject is just making it worse.

12 comments:

Pam said...

ah religion. The poem Beowulf was the first thing written in the English language. It was copied by Monks to scare the pagans into submission. Everyone needed to be Catholic. There are religions that believe in destiny and fate. I saw a preacher tell a 7 year old once that his dad is probably in hell because his name wasn't in a book.

I have no views on religion personally. I do want to point out however Angel who had a soul. The basis of this is without a soul to be judged you cannot get into heaven so therefore you are damned. I wonder what happens to one with a soul such as Angel?

I Heart Monster said...

@Pam:

a) that's horrible about the preacher who told a 7yo that his dad was in hell because his name wasn't in a book. Geez.

b) That's a great point you bring up about Angel and his soul. So, Angelus would be damned and maybe Angel wouldn't be? Oh, so confusing.

Now another general observation based on Twitter feedback...

If religion isn't a factor in the whole vampires are automatically damned philosophy, then the lore wouldn't use the term damned. Damned in this lore refers to hell. So religion, and more specifically those that believe in an option for an unpleasant afterlife are completely relavent to this discussion.

It was also pointed out to me that the lore is so vast and different that people have just taken their own twists and turns with it and done what they want... so the damned issue then does not apply to all vamps. My rebuttal to that is that even if your vamp doesn't believe themselves to be damned, there is still the element that most lore dictates that they are. I'm really trying to understand.

Also, please note that I use the terms heaven and hell quite loosely in a broad Christian sense. I personally don't believe in heaven and hell, but I do believe in an organized afterlife. So, I'm not trying to discriminate against any other religion, I'm just going off of what I know, which is what I do best ;o)

heidenkind said...

Well, I would say vampires, whether they chose their path or not, are separated from God because they can never go to heaven. Also, supposedly they don't have a soul, although that depends on the legend. Still, I think the whole damned thing really hinges on their not dying.

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

For some Christian mythos vampire origins - the vampires are the descendants of Cain who was cursed after he killed Able. Or another popular one is that vampires are the descendants of Lilith the original woman in the Garden of Eden who was cast out because she displeased God and she was..you guessed it..cursed. Thus anyone who is a descendant or made a descendant (like a vampire) is also cursed from entering Heaven. Though I don't believe any of this I do like reading a story that has a mythology of origins - I think it makes the story more interesting and complex.

Anonymous said...

Does this have to do with religion? I'm not accusing, at least I'm not trying to, anyone of the religion that they believe in, I respect the fact that everybody has different beliefs. But could it be that vampires were or still are real? Maybe they wrote it down because of something they couldn't explain or the same thing was passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth? I know that this isn't in answer to the question but I just would like to state maybe an opinion on the subject, and I would just like to give something for readers out there to think about.

Captain said...

The vampire being damned comes from the idea that the vampires of the world, most notably the tales of Lilith, Cain, and Dracula all having been cursed by the Judeo-Christian god. As they are cursed so does their curse infect their "children". It was widely held that one who was excommunicated, again placing the person outside the grace of god, would themselves become one of the undead. One of those foibles of the early christian church, the lack of decomposition on a corpse of one who was excommunicated was proof of his being damned and a vampire, while on the other hand, the lack of decomposition on the corpse of a saint was a miracle and proof of divinity.
If you remove god from the equation, the vampire ceases to become a vile creature and instead becomes a romantic figure, sustaining itself through an intimate act with it's victim. To call the vampire damned at this point is just a further romanticism, an attempt to create the tragic lover. Without god the vampire is not damned, though as beings that thrive under the sun, we may fundamentally believe that one lost to the daylight is indeed cursed.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, it depends on the story the author is telling. But in vamp mytho, they are in fact evil spirits or demons that feed on blood so I guess by the definition they are in fact damned.

I Heart Monster said...

Okay. So, I think my issue here is based on my beliefs.

I believe that man will suffer and be punished for his own sins... and not the transgressions/sins of others. Therefore, I cannot wrap my head around the unwilling vampire doomed to forever damnation. From my perspective it just plain doesn't work that way. Whether you choose or do not choose to remove yourself from God's presence, he created and gave you a body, so you will have to answer for your actions on this earth. Again, in my view, that would mean all actions, during your life and your undead period (if said period were, you know, real) until you account for and are judged for them. Being a Christian, that's where Christ comes into the picture as your mediary... because He died for your sins and He understands what was truly going on in your head at that point. Spare me the comments about how the fact that Christ suffered all sins that had been/would be committed is in its essence an act of supernaturality - I know that, I'm just trying to clarify what I think here. So to me, it would either go one of two ways:

1) Since your soul was not present in your body when you committed the vampiric sins, your soul is not held accountable for the soulless body's action.

2) If your soul was present, but you had no choice, Christ could intercede and plead on your behalf during your judgement.

So, I can't wrap my head around the damned thing. And I guess that's because my beliefs don't quite align with mainstream Christianity. So basically, it's not the mythology that's screwed up, it's me. And I'm okay with that.

But, in reference to heidenkind's comment - maybe the reason they cannot be saved is that their body never dies, which does not allow its soul to be judged? But then what happens when the vamp gets staked?

Oh I so dunno. I was really hoping this was going to be an easy cut/dry answer that I could ask and someone would point out to me what I was missing. Guess not.

Captain - I think your comment makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous 1 - I think yours is great too... I mean, vamps could very well still be alive. You aren't perhaps one of them are you? 'Cause if you are, I've got some GRAND questions for you :o)

Heather - I get the cursed thing. But does cursed=damned?

Anonymous 2 - you hit it on the head - it depends on the story the author is telling. But that's only if Anonymous 1 isn't right and they're real.

Thanks everyone. Keep the theories and comments coming. I enjoy reading your take on them.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I agree with Anonymous 2. I figured I would just add more to what he/her said.

Vampire's are suppose to be demons, despite what Hollywood/Books have told us. In mytho, the victim is no longer themselves, just a possesed corpse that feeds on human blood (that wouldn't sell any merchandise now would it). So, by definition, the soul of the person isn't damned since the peron is in fact already dead. Vampires didn't turn people back then, they simply just rose from their graves at night and feed on blood. They were nothing more than mindless, animated corpses with evil spirits in them.

Enter Bram Stoker's Dracula.

That book changed the face of the vampire mytho forever. Every single thing we know and believe about the modern day vampire; them being damned, forsaken, souless, charming, romantic has been based off that character. He gave the vampire a face, a backstory by taking what was already there and creating a great story out of it. Although the traditional mytho already established that they are already damned, Dracula was still himself. He wasn't just a mindless corpse, he had feelings, desires and an extreme hate for God. He was every human's darkest thoughts and fanatasies rolled into one.

Then came Anne Rice. She took what Bram Stoker did and expanded it. Her book Interview with the Vampire, started everything. The vampires became more human, yet retained the evil that Bram Stoker created with Dracula. They became the tortured hero. More books, shows and movies came out with vampires who were trying to resist what they are, some going on killing sprees, some who loved a human, some who fought to regain their motality again, etc.

So is the vampire truly damned? If based off of the actually mytho, then I would have to say yes, since the body the evil spirit possess is in fact dead. The human soul isn't damned by any means since it has already passed on.

If we go by the Mordern Day Vampire mytho (Dracula, Anne Rice, and yes even Twilight.) then is just depends on the story the author is writing.

I personally love the vampire who is damned. For me, I like the whole evil lore that surrounds the creature of the night. That's just me though. :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is simply a matter of defining what one means by damned. Why is it unreasonable to assume that someone who is basically condemned to cannibalism, can never see the sun, is doomed to separated from his or her loved ones either through death, or an unwillingness to feast upon their blood, for hundreds, if not thousands of years wouldn't be considered to exist in a certain kind of hell? This would seem somewhat more terrible to someone with a standard set of social mores, or typical western background. One would continually be in a state which required, for the preservation of one's own body, inflicting suffering upon others as a requirement for continued existence, and even that would be an existence devoid of sunlight, and presumably close attachments to your friends and family from the pre-vampiric period of your life (either through age related death on their part, or an unwillingness to use them for snacks.)

Secondly, if being a vampire requires feasting on the blood of other humans, and condemning them to a similar fate, how is that not also damning? If the preservation of your own life requires debasing, or else destroying the life of someone else, perhaps that continual choice between extinction or a morally repugnant act is what signifies the damnation. According to Webster's dictionary, to damn is to condemn to a particular fate or ruin, and that state would seem to apply to being a vampire.

As to being made a vampire against one's will, the damnation doesn't apply to the act of being made a vampire, but rather the actions required to maintain life after that transition. I suppose the closest analogy would be someone with a medical condition that needed a heart transplant every month, and proceeded to go and remove a heart from a living body (assuming a lack of suitable donors once per month). The medical condition is not by itself damning, but taking the organ from someone else is morally culpable. The situation in which one must either commit evil or perish seems to the damning element.

chaoscontrot said...

The two posters above me nailed it from both important perspectives. I had been wondering about this as well.

Anonymous said...

ok well. i dont know if any one has mentioned this yet cuz alot of people replied, buuuuuttt....i think maybe, sometimes the whole "damned" meaning isnt religion related, in a vampires case. maybe vampires are damned because they have to watch all of their family and friends die since they live forever. like they are personally tormented by that, seeing themselves as damned??? it was just a thought that popped in my head, i hope u understand what im talking about becuz im not very good at explaining myself, lol