I am amazed at the opportunities and invitations that have come my way since I extended my academic work into the area of religion and popular culture. This has included writing for publications like Religion Dispatches, where among other things I have written on the intersection between zombies in popular culture and theology. In that essay, I mentioned an episode of The Walking Dead which interacted with neuroscience and concepts of human nature and the self. This essay then caught the attention of CNN's Belief Blog, and most recently it led to an invitation to be a part of a conference put on by Emory University entitled "Zombies and 'Zombethics': Walking with the Dead: An Ethics Symposium for the Living on Halloween 2012." I will be part of a Religion and Zombies panel and will present on issues related to zombies and eschatology from my chapter contribution to The Undead and Theology (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming). This conference is being put together by Dr. Cory Andrew Lebrecque and Dr Karen Rommelfanger with the Center for Ethics, School of Medicine, and Department of Religion at Emory University in Atlanta. The symposium – open to 125 registrants from Emory and the general public – aims to be a panel type presentation by scholars from bioethics, neuroethics, public health ethics, and religion . . . who explore questions such as: Why bother being “good” when the end is near? When is a human being no longer a person? Does it all come down to the brain? What is free will? How should healthcare resources be allocated when pandemics hit? What does end-of-life care look like for those for whom biological death is not the end?
For more on what zombies and neuroscience can teach us see this item from Culturing Science here. I will post more information on the Emory conference as it becomes available in the near future.