Today I am doing something different. First I do a plug for The Martian, and realize how much John Piper would detest it. Next, I am looking at a couple of topics from the movie The Source Code. In this post I reflect a little bit on death and reconciliation. As always I invite criticism and differing points of view. This post does have a homework assignment designed to challenge all readers.
“No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow”
“Given the scale of trauma caused by the genocide, Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of community can be, a hero always emerges. Although no one can dare claim that it is now a perfect state, and that no more work is needed, Rwanda has risen from the ashes as a model of truth and reconciliation.”
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:1-6 NIV
It’s been a while since I have done this, and I want to do something different. Every so often I like to take a movie and pick it apart and look for spiritual themes. Mars Hill Seattle used to do this and it was popular. I do this to illustrate the themes you can find and what can be taught. I have done this a couple of times earlier in regards to Rush and The Dark Knight Rises. Today I intend to use The Source Code to make some theological points. But before I get into the movie I have to say something.
On Saturday night I went and saw The Martian with Matt Damon. It is a really good movie that I would recommend you should see. Matt Damon plays a NASA astronaut left behind on Mars as a result of an accident. They think he’s dead, when in fact he is alive. The movie is about him surviving on Mars. It is based on a novel that was published a couple of years back. I’ll give the spoiler in a second so if you don’t want to know what happens in the movie skip this paragraph and proceed into the trailer for Source Code. When I saw The Martian you know what popped in my mind? I realized that John Piper would absolutely detest this movie. A couple of months ago John Piper commented yet again on what women can and cannot be. Christian Today had a good article here. John Piper talked about women becoming police officer and why that shouldn’t be the case. Well in The Martian the leader of the team, the Mission Commander is Melissa Lewis who is played by Jessica Chastain. I was thinking as I was watching it, “What would John Piper say to having a woman astronaut?” Indeed what would John Piper say about individuals like Sally Ride, Christa McAuliffe, or Judith Resnik? Here’s the spoiler….in the end of the movie the female astronaut Melissa Lewis risks her life and saves Matt Damon in the end. I was watching that nail biting scene and after the movie was over I said to myself, “yeah John Piper wouldn’t like this!” The idea of a woman saving a man would not go down too well at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The other thing about the movie is that it could be used to show the theological and spiritual problems with complementarism in how its taught by the Neo-Calvinists. That could be an entire post in itself. Next I’ll move into The Source Code and describe the plot.
I re-wrote the description of the movie from Wikipedia. U.S. Army Pilot Captain Colter Stevens (played by Jake Gyllenhael) wakes up on a commuter train outside Chicago. It’s 7:40 am. Captain Stevens is confused because the last thing he was doing was flying a mission in Afghanistan. To those around him Captain Stevens looks like Sean Fentress, a school teacher. The person who rides the train with him is Christina Warren (played by Michelle Monaghan). While confused about what is happening the commuter train explodes with every one being killed. Captain Stevens wakes up inside a cockpit. Communicating to him through a video screen is Air Force Captain Collen Goodwin (played by Vera Farmiga) Captain Goodwin tells Captain Stevens that he needs to stay focused on the mission. A dirty bomb is scheduled to explode in downtown Chicago in six hours and they need to find the bomber to prevent the explosion from occurring. The Source Code program is designed by Dr. Rutledge, a scientist. (Played by Jeffrey Wright) The Source Code allows a person to experience the last 8 minutes of another person’s life within a different timeline.
During the movie Captain Stevens is sent back into the Source Code repeatedly. In differing missions he tries to find the bombers identify, save Christina or escape the explosion. Dr. Rutledge explains that the alternate time line is not real. Then it is revealed that Captain Stevens has been with them for two months. He was reported killed in Afghanistan. A confused Captain Stevens asks Captain Goodwin, “ As one soldier to another, am I dead?” After the mission is completed he asks to be removed from life support. Dr. Rutledge concurs with his request.
Eventually the bomber, Derek Frost (played by Michael Arden) is caught. He leaves his wallet on the train to fake his own death and give authorities the belief that he died in the explosion. Frost kills both Captain Stevens and Christina Warren. Stevens remembers the license plates for the white van holding the dirty bomb and gives the information to Dr. Rutledge. Rutledge reneges on his deal and wants to use Captain Stevens for a future mission. Captain Stevens pleads with Captain Goodwin to be sent in one more time, to save people and Christina Warren. Captain Stevens is sent back in one final time. He catches the bomber, disarms the bomb, and reports the bomber to law enforcement. He also takes care of personal business. In the movie we learn that Captain Stevens and his father had a fight on the phone in what would be their final conversation. He poses as another solider calls home desperate to reconcile with his father. He also composes an email to Captain Goodwin explaining that Source Code works even better than they know. Then expecting the bomb to still go off Captain Stevens asks Christina what she would do if she only had a few seconds to live, and starts to kiss her. Meanwhile Captain Goodwin disconnects Captain Stevens from life support saying, “He’s done enough…” Dr. Rutledge is banging at the door. Captain Stevens still in the Source Code has changed the ending and he finishes his kiss with Christina. The alternate ending allows both to live and they walk around downtown Chicago. Later that morning Captain Goodwin arrives for work at Nellis Air Force Base and receives the email from Captain Stevens informing her that a terrorist attack was foiled on a Chicago commuter train. Captain Stevens informs Captain Goodwin that they have changed history. He asks Captain Goodwin in this timeline to affirm that “everything is going to be okay.”
If You Knew You were Going to Die What Would You Do with the Time you Have?
I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on death. This is not easy to do, but it’s something that we need to discuss. The other day in my Facebook feed someone I know was in complete shock over the death of a friend. Apparently it was sudden, and very unexpected. The other day while reading the news I noticed this story involving Jim Carey where he was a pallbearer for his ex-girlfriend at her funeral. In the past two years I have learned of several people who have passed away. One was suicidal, another was involved in a Bible study like myself, and yet another was my cousin. On the day my cousin died the thought crossed my mind that I needed to call her. I then got the phone call from my parents breaking the news to me. Also looming in my mind is watching my parents age and my parents friends age. My Mom calls me and it seems like she spends more time attending funerals of people she and my Dad knew. One day I will have to deal with the death of my parents. I dread that call, and pray that it doesn’t happen for years. My family has also suffered greatly and I fear suffering is a part of death also.
Here in the United States we take life for granted. We learn this over and over whenever their is some type of mass shooting, or a terrorist attack. Why does it take an event like that to grab our attention? If we’re honest about this each and every one of us take people in our lives for granted. We always will assume that they will be there. Life is short, no one knows what will happen tomorrow, or the day after that. But if you knew you had a limited amount of time on this earth what would you do? Would you want to know? I’ve thought a little bit about that in preparing for this journal entry. At first I honestly don’t know if I would. The more I thought about it I realized that there would be pain regardless. We’re human and the human species is filled with pain. In thinking about this the best advice I could give is to live each day like its your last. Be at peace with everyone. Be involved in people’s lives. Treasure each moment and don’t take it for granted. At the end of the day this alone is what angers me about fundamentalism. Much of this is robbed of people and families by legalistic churches and movements. But I think if we knew our time on this earth is limited…wouldn’t we act and respond differently to each other? I would hope so, in reality its time that we act with more love, grace, and compassion for each other and those around us.
There are a few scripture verses about death and dying. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” According to Genesis 2:17 death came from sin entering the world, and death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). There will come a time when even death will die and no longer exist. In Revelation 21:4 its described like this, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Then in 1 Corinthians 15:26 it says that even death will be destroyed. Death is going to happen, it’s a part of life. The old know this as those that are aging are forced to reflect on this. In Ecclesiates it says there is a time to be born and a time to die. Death is a journey we must all face. It doesn’t matter if you atheist, Muslim or Christian every single person is going to face death. But for the Christian…there is hope. Those who die whom the Lord loves are precious in his eyes (Psalm 116:15) And then there is the taunting of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55 where Paul asks, “death where is your sting?”
The Importance of Reconciliation
Let me explain the events leading up to this scene and please watch it. U.S. Army Captain Stevens had a fight with his father on the phone. It was their last conversation as afterward he was killed in action in Afghanistan. While he searches for the bomber and comes to realize what happened he longs to make peace with his father. He needs closure. After catching the bomber Derek Frost, he heads up in a Chicago commuter train car and makes a phone call to his father. Its under the guise of another soldier. Please watch this.
Captain Stevens needs peace, his soul needs rest. Not only that but he is concerned about his father and how things went. He would like to communicate some words to his father, words of love, words that will help heal. I find this scene to be very telling in this one sense….Captain Stevens is doing what Christ commands Christians to do. Now there are differing types of reconciliation in Christianity. There is Jesus reconciling himself to us. I would use 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 to bolster this belief. In that verse it’s stated, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Then it can be stated that Jesus reconciled himself to us through Calvary. This can be stated by Romans 5:10 where it says, “ For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! ”
In the scene above the reconciliation that occurs is more in line with Matthew 5:23-24. In that verse it says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” In that scene above Captain Stevens approaches his father and tells him what he needs to hear so he can be at peace. In this example he knows his responsibility to communicate those words of love. This I would suggest is an example of how we should all be. From myself to everyone else. Human beings need closure, our species is sensitive and needs healing. A while back I recall reading an article that talked about differing ways people tried to find closure when one party was deceased or not able to provide it. I think it was in a psychology magazine. In the story I read they talked about a person putting a chair in front of them and imaging having that conversation with that person they need to. As humans need closure its for this reason why I do not understand why many evangelical Christians won’t practice reconciliation. This should be something we are known for. It should define us. Our mark should be love not conflict and tension. Its with that in mind that I am going to leave you with a homework assignment. I would like to use this platform to challenge other people and also myself constantly. And this will be pretty much identical to what I wrote about in the post about the Roseburg shooting. Captain Stevens had to make that phone call. What phone call do you need to make? Or what email or text message do you need to send? Who in your life do you need to reach out to and resolve some conflict? Life is short, this is something that we all should be doing. If you make that phone call to someone let me know. I would love to hear about it!
I’m going to close with three videos. One side note about The Source Code that I liked is the setting of Chicago. I love Chicago, and when I lived in Milwaukee I was always heading down to Chicago. It’s with that in mind that I am going to leave you with the ending of the movie. The bombing is halted, an alternative ending is created and Captain Stevens and Christina Warren walk around downtown. The pictures of the Chicago skyline are priceless. After that since I wrote about death and grieving I will leave you with some Eric Clapton. Take care, I love you guys!