As I mentioned in my first post in this series, vampirism is diametrically opposed to everything God calls good in his Word. But in light of this distinct separation, how would a vampire who got saved navigate the vast chasm between his old existence and his newfound faith?
Read on to find out my thoughts on the matter and to get a glimpse at some of the questions I considered when writing my debut novel, Blood for Blood. (Click the title to sign up for my newsletter and download it for FREE!)
You might be a vampire if…
…you can’t tolerate holy items and symbols?
Raven glared at him until he realized what Garrett had dropped on his lap—a humongous leather-bound Bible with a gold cross embossed on the black cover. Heat spread under its weight and began to boil his skin under his clothes.
With a hiss and a sharp recoil, Raven flung the book across the room. It smacked a wall and crumpled to the floor in a heap of leather and paper.
Raven jumped to his feet so fast that his chair tipped over and smacked the floor. His hip hit the table and rattled the few glasses and porcelain plates that hadn’t yet been cleared. He staggered back against a wall on the opposite side of the room from where the Bible had landed.
He patted his lap and the bottom of his coat and the burning subsided, then he glared at Garrett. He almost extended his fangs, but with the children still in the room he managed to restrain himself.
“Garrett!” Calandra yelled. “What are you doing?”
He shrugged. “Just trying to encourage Raven in our faith. Reading the Bible is essential to developing a relationship with God.”
“Quit playing dumb.” She held her hand out to him, palm open. “You know they can’t tolerate Christian symbols.”
Garrett shrugged again. “I thought it would be a nice step of faith for him.”
“They?” Anthony asked. “What do you mean by that?”
“Usually steps of faith are at either God’s discretion or at that of the person taking the step, not someone else’s.” Luco’s eyebrows arched down. He stood and approached the Bible.
“Papa, I’m scared.” Mina peeked at Raven from behind Maria’s flowery dress.
Should he apologize? Should he say something? Embarrassment flooded Raven’s emotions, but he found himself unable to move.
He hadn’t realized it until that moment, but there had been no crosses or Christian symbols of any kind in either of the two tent meetings he’d attended. Luco hadn’t even used a Bible when he spoke. Perhaps that’s why Raven could approach the altar as freely as he had.
That golden cross on the Bible seared his mind’s eye and ignited him with fury at Garrett’s insolent behavior. He couldn’t go near that book again.
Luco stared down at the Bible. As he reached for it he hesitated, as if unsure of how to salvage it without further wrinkling or creasing its delicate pages. The way he picked it up by its spine in one hand reminded Raven of a mountain lion picking up a cub with its teeth.
He turned to Raven with the book in his hands and smiled. “Raven, take a seat, please.”
Raven swallowed hard, but snatched a chair from the table and sat down near the wall. As Luco stalked toward him with the book, the candles on the hearth flickered, then extinguished. Smoky ghosts danced where the fire had just been.
“Don’t be afraid of this book,” Luco said.
Easy for Luco to say. He wasn’t a vampire.
“Yes, it is ‘quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,’“ Luco said. “But this is also a book of life, of hope, and of love.”
“Don’t.” Raven’s eyes widened.
Luco didn’t stop coming toward him. He extended the book toward Raven.
Raven shifted his chair back so abruptly that a painting dropped from the wall behind him. Its frame smacked on the floor. “Don’t…please.”
Luco paused. “I’m not going to drop it on your lap, and I’m not going to force you to take it. I’m just going to hold it out for you, and you can take it if you want to. Do you trust me?”
“I barely know you.” Raven’s fangs extended behind his lips. He would attack Luco if he had to. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
“That’s not what I asked.”
Raven glanced at Maria, then at Calandra. They stared at him, of course, but he noticed encouragement in each of their eyes. When he caught a glimpse of Garrett, he only saw disdain.
Wind howled outside and rattled the house’s windows. The flames in the fireplace dwindled, and the entire room darkened.
The black book hovered at Raven’s eye level, and its golden cross shined in what light remained. Abhorrent, yet appealing. Repellent, yet revelatory. Offensive, yet alluring.
“Do you trust me, Raven?”
Raven studied Luco’s brown eyes and loosened the tension in his jaw. “I trust you.”
“Then take the book in your hands.”
Raven hesitated until he remembered Garrett’s raucous laughter last night. Garrett would not have another laugh at his expense.
He reached for the book.
– Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Blood for Blood, by Ben Wolf
Vampires can’t stand holy items. Crosses have pretty much always been anathema to them (at least since Bram Stoker’s Dracula), and fiction has since expanded that to include things like holy water, Bibles, and other items blessed by clergy.
It makes sense that vampires would have an aversion toward symbols that represent the God whom they oppose. What you may not know is that there’s significant biblical precedent for holy items having a wide range of effects and “powers” associated with them.
In Exodus we witness the creation and the establishment of the rules regarding the Ark of the Covenant. God gave very specific instructions on how the Ark was to be constructed, what was to go inside of it, and how to handle it. He also warned that anyone who didn’t respect the Ark of the Covenant might not end up so well. Two great stories come to mind when I think about the Ark of the Covenant (and no, one of them is not Raiders of the Lost Ark): 1 Samuel 4-6 and 2 Samuel 6.
When you next have a chance, read those two sections. It won’t take long, and you might even get a good laugh out of the first story. To sum up 1 Samuel 4-6, here’s what happens: The High Priest’s sons wrongfully take the Ark into battle and lose it to the Philistines, who take it back to their temple in Ashdod. They place it before their god Dagon, and the next morning when they come back in, they find Dagon tipped over in front of it, as if he’s bowing before the Ark. That might have just been a silly prank, so they put him back up. But the next morning they find him bowed down in front of it again, only this time his head and hands are broken off as well.
It gets worse. Soon after, people in Ashdod start getting sick–afflicted with tumors. Then rats show up in the city and start wreaking havoc. Eventually, the Philistines realize (7 months later) that the Ark is causing all of this stuff, so they decide to send it back to the Israelites, and they do.
In 2 Samuel 6, the tale is much shorter. The Ark is being taken to Jerusalem and instead of carrying it the correct way (suspended by poles) the Israelites are transporting it via a cart pulled by oxen. Well, they hit a bump, and the Ark looks like it’s about to fall off of the cart, so Uzzah reaches out to try to stabilize it. As soon as he touches the Ark, God strikes him dead.
Now, you’ll have to ask God why He chose to kill Uzzah like that when you get to heaven, because I don’t have a good answer for you there. However, what I do have is a biblical precedence for holy relics and symbols affecting people who don’t show reverence for the Lord. How much mores, then, would a vampire, who is the epitome of one who does not regard the Lord, be afflicted by encounters with holy items?
(There are other examples of inanimate objects wielding supernatural powers in the Bible, but listing them here would take forever, and that’s not the point of this post.)
What do you think? Is there more to the biblical connection between holy items and their effects on vampires beyond what I’ve described? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, and grab a FREE copy of Blood for Blood today by clicking the link and signing up for my newsletter.