An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
So I've recently finished reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. A curious thing, you may think to yourself, but in a conversation a while ago someone remarked to me how decidedly religious the original work was and that it was in stark contrast to modern renditions of the tale. I've also heard that one can trace the religious mind of our society based on the evolution of vampire books and films - all the way to the point where we have scientific explanations of the monster's existence as well as how he/she is susceptible to certain items. In fact, I cannot recall the film, but in one a vampire is presented with a crucifix and laughs at the absurdity of it.
Not so with the original. It is decidedly a tale of good vs. evil. God is regularly invoked and the vampire fighters see their struggle as being as much spiritual as physical. There is no notion of goodness in Dracula (no long lost love seeking to be found here ala "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), he is evil incarnate and seeks to literally feed on life to go on living as the un-dead.
Interestingly, there is not a single mention of Holy Water in the entirety of the text. However, it it's place is the Communion Host. Believe it or not, Van Helsing receives "an indulgence" to use the Eucharistic element against vampires and does so relatively frequently: warding them off by exposing them to its sight, preventing them from entering rooms, and "sterilizing" caskets by placing a portion therein.
Now of course, using the Body in such a way goes VERY much against Orthodox sensibilities (for us the elements are NEVER removed from the context of a meal), but at the same time I appreciate the nod Stoker is giving to sacred things - MATERIALLY even. Before I understood the Incarnation in its fullness, I used to laugh at such notions as warding off evil with signs, images, or bread. Evangelicals, of course, would either hold up a Bible...or the purists amongst them would simply pray or maybe scream in tongues. We simply did not GET the idea of Holy "things."
Anyway, I did enjoy reading it. Dracula certainly has come a very long way and I suppose it very well could be an indicator of the evolution of societal attituds and religious sensitivities.
And one last thing I found comical was how Stoker describes the Slovaks one of the characters comes across early on in the novel. While not complimentary, I just thought it cool the description he has of my ancestors:
The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.
I reckon somewhere along the way I regained the gene for self-assertion. But I'm still generally harmless...unless you are a Vampire.