Friday, January 29, 2010

The Book of Eli - where to find hope when all is gone

Yesterday I went to see The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington, a post-apocalyptic story in the vein of Mad Max, The Postman, Red Dawn, etc. where humanity has been de-civilized back into barbarism after a nuclear (or semi-nuclear) holocaust.

Denzel Washington has never been shy of playing a warrior who fights evil so ruthlessly, so terribly that even the bad guys are scared. He cloaks himself in a patient weariness whenever a cock-sure villain taunts or tempts him - and then, like so many 'I-didn't-start-this-but-I'll-end-it' heroes, he takes out a cadre of thugs in less than 60 seconds. [See trailer]

In interviews, Denzel confesses to having NO martial arts skills and is simply following Jeff Imada's great fight choreography. I think Denzel is being a bit self-deprecating. The man clearly knows how to move.

In real life, Denzel regularly attends church with his wife and, so I hear, is quite generous in his charitable giving. He seems to be a fairly constant believer. Though I may question the wisdom of a Christian doing so many violent movies, I have always noted he is an actor, and often has a great quality of paternal wisdom in his characters. "You don't want to to do that..." is one of his signature lines with a plea to reason, to peace.

Now The Book of Eli is about a man who is on a journey to deliver this last copy of a once well-respected book a 'place in the West' where it will be safe.

On the way, he runs into another man, a mayor of a small 'town' who wants The Book so he can control the weak and foolsih minds of this world!" Being as old as our hero, Eli, he remembers in the 'Before-Time' how much power there was in The Book to rule men. With those words, he could control MILLIONS!

Now by this point, you've probably figured out the book is not Green Eggs and Ham.


Of course, it is the Holy Bible. What else could be so valuable to both believers and non-believers alike? As ancient literaure it is unsurpassed in its beauty and power. As divinely inspired writings, it supports the faith of over a billion humans.

So what did I make of this movie about a bloody seasoned warrior bringing death to villains and hope for the future through the "word of God?"

I loved every minute of it. I watched the Philistines and Goliaths fall again. I saw sight given to the blind and hope given for the hopeless. I saw the dead rise in victory and the prisoners [their former home in fact] set other captives free.

Let me caution you on this, so you and I will understand each other, even as I praise this film with so much violence.

God hates evil. He deals with it as He sees fit. Intuitively we understand when there is some hope for redemption, when mercy is a good thing to offer and when it is not. Ths movie paints the wicked as desperate, barbarous and pleased with cruelty. Others are 'doing what they must to survive' - Eli spends no time judging others or arguing what they should be doing.

But when the evil is absolutely apparent by action, he answers definitively. He takes no pleasure in doing it; he just eliminates all evil in his sight.

If you see the movie, you will see what I mean - and what factors limit that choice.

As Christians, we are to follow Jesus. Sure, like Eli, we will run across those who want what we have and will hate us for having it. We need not be afraid.

As Eli quotes Psalm 23 to the young girl who had followed him, she remarks "That's beautiful. Did you write that?"

"Yes I did," he says solemnly before grinning. "No," he confesses. "No - that was written long before you and I were ever born."

Yes it was. And if you want to know where you should place your faith and trust, I should be a fool to tell you of any place besides the True and Living God.

If you obey Him, you will find how tenderly He will care for you, as David, a fearless warrior king, did when he wrote the following:

Psalm 23 (NKJV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD



p.s. Ignore the critics. Go see The Book of Eli.

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