Flights of Faith

Sunday, March 23, 2008


God has a strange and wonderful sense of humor. I watched Memento late last night at my roommate's recommendation. I'm a mild fan of Christopher Nolan, director of Batman Begins, so I thought I'd check it out. The style is great and the pacing is wonderful until the very end. I'm debating if it deserves a spot on my favorite movies facebook list. For all the style and texture, I guess it is pretty bankrupt in most other respects. Well, except one.

I don't think it's intentional, and I don't even know if it works. Memento is a movie about a man with no short term memory. (By the way, I'm not going to include major spoilers) He acquired it fighting off two men in a pivotal early scene. The story is told in two sequences that converge at the end. Color shots that move backwards in time and black and white shots that appear chronologically. Color follows black and white and so on. The last shot is the next moment in both sequences and is shot in color. The movie attempts (and I think succeeds) in asking its viewers to have amnesia and to begin to piece together clues from these short clips of remembrance. By doing so, we can discern the protagonist's actions.

One of my new theological concerns is that of memory. Being the overzealous moviegoer that I am, I concocted my theory about the movie's relation to Christianity halfway through the movie. A funny thing considering the ending. I am considering memory because of Jesus' words: "Do this in remembrance of me." I am also using the aspect of storytelling around the resurrection to represent a memory. The fascinating thing about these memories is that they are ratified in our souls and known to be true by believers in Christ. I know it's hard to explain and seems to rest on a leap of faith but that's because, well, it does. When you choose to accept Christ's sacrifice, it comes alive as an experience that you have witnessed. It's not quite like reading something powerful, but I guess that'd be the closest way I could describe it. I would be interested to know what was so powerful though about what you were reading. It might have been a moment.

In Memento, the protagonist literally has to remember who he is every ten minutes or so. He uses tattoos, notes, and photographs to do this. I felt an odd and eerie sense of recognition from my own moments where I wake up only to realize and remember my relationship with God. Or walks down the street where I suddenly snap back into the understanding of my Creator. Those are the comfortable times. Then, there are the others. The moments where bad choices and sinful actions weave a web that is so thick that it does not allow us to remember who we are anymore. Christ thankfully breaks through the white encasement and reveals Himself to us again. We forgot who He was. Because if we knew, how could we have done that to Him?

It is a movie about survival. Remember who you are and live through discernment or be lost to yourself. He has to be vigilant to surround himself with memories of who he is and guard against anyone who might try to create a false identity for himself. I am also bonded to this idea given the life of a Christian is built on lived-out memories of Jesus, but it is also supported by those times when we remember God being faithful to us. Theologically, He is always faithful. However, our human minds often need to cling to those times where we recognized God as our loving ally in this quest to overcome the evils of the world by spreading it with Light. Those memories from our own experience provide a foundation that deepens our relationship in God and the Word where we often seek and find Him. We survive in Him that way.

The end only makes this thought process more complicated. While it involved a shaking up of my thoughts on the matter, it confirmed to me that one of the differences between the movie and our lives as Christian is that we are not making memories alone. And we are not building up our identities individually. We are depending on God and a community of believers to keep the shape of our true selves and to help us remember Him when ever we might stray.

Driving down a street at the conclusion of the movie, the protagonist offers up this quote.

"I have to believe in the world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Is it still out there?!"

He closes his eyes and drives.
He opens them.


We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different."

I am joyful that today, Easter, fulfills a promise that upon the recognition of my sin and my acceptance of the truth of new life in Jesus enables the mirror of Christ to reflect a whole picture of me, blameless before the Lord as he wraps his arms around me. I hope I never lose my gaze from that mirror.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years of War