The Book of EliPosted: July 1, 2010
This may be a generalisation, but I’d argue the secular world doesn’t do a great job at portraying religious life.
Take Q Magazine’s comment about Christian band delirious, for example: “Without God they could be massive” (talk about missing the point!!) or the BBC’s awful programme “The Heaven and Earth Show” which was about as flaky as dandruff. Secular organisations just don’t seem to understand Christianity. (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised)
So when Hollywood decides to churn out another ‘post-apocalyptic’ film which features Denzel Washington’s character (Eli) carrying a Bible around and killing people, you can’t blame me for thinking ‘here we go again’.
Discovering ‘The Book of Eli’ has a tonne of swearing and some pretty graphic violence doesn’t help either.
Enough speculation though, on with the film. My brother puts the DVD on and I’m drawn into a wonderful tale. The Book of Eli turns out to be one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
I cannot tell you how good it is to see the message of the Bible portrayed not only truthfully, but also in a non judgemental, non cynical and non offensive way. Not only that, but the special effects, plot and characters are all well thought out and portrayed on screen.
Here are some quotes from the film that I particularly enjoyed…
Eli talking about a time before ‘the flash’ (the end of the world)… “People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other now.”
How true is that? In today’s society we have no idea what is of value and what isn’t. We think accumulating possessions will give us fulfilment, it’s what we live for, yet it never brings satisfaction. The Bible says in 1 Timothy: ”Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble.” If the recent economic crash doesn’t prove that I don’t know what does!?
The simpleness of how Eli prays is a beautiful thing as he recognises that despite his troubles, God has provided for him. “Thank you Lord for a warm bed to sleep on, thank you for the food we are about to eat, thank you for a roof over our heads on cold nights such as this, thank you for companionship in hard times like these, Amen.
There is a great exchange between the two main characters about the nature of faith. Eli has read the book so he knows what faith is like. Solara has not read the book, so how could she understand faith?
Solara: Have you ever thought that maybe you were lost?
Solara: Well, how do you know that you’re walking in the right direction?
Eli: I walk by faith, not by sight.
Solara: [sighs] What does that mean?
Eli: It means that you know something even if you don’t know something.
Solara: That doesn’t make any sense.
Eli: It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s faith, it’s faith. It’s the flower of light in the field of darkness that’s giving me the strength to carry on. You understand?
Sure, it’s not the most theological sound definition of faith, but the sentiment is there.
Why is Eli walking across America with this book? God spoke to him. Again, I’m so pleased the writer of this film did his research and talked to alteast some of the millions of people who claim to hear God speak to them. It would have been so much easier to make the following quote sound ridiculous and dis-credit Washington’s character. But the writer, Gary Whitta doesn’t do that.
“And then one day I heard this voice. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like it was coming from inside me. But I could hear it clear as day. Clear as I can hear you talking to me now. It told me to carry the book west, it told me that a path would be laid out before me, that I’d be led to a place where the book would be safe it told me I’d be protected, against anyone or anything that tried to stand in my way. If only I would have faith. That was thirty years ago and I’ve been walking ever since
Solara: And you did all this because a voice told you to?
Eli: I know what I hear, I know what I heard, I know I’m not crazy, I didn’t imagine it”
Now, before the agnostics, atheists and people of other faiths think this film is blatent Christian propoganda…check out this quote about one character’s perception of the book.
“[The book is...]A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ‘em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.“
I’ll end by quoting Eli’s warning for today’s “people of the book”. “In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it…do to others what you would have them do to you”