Last week, I took my wife away for an afternoon date. We watched the Book of Eli. After the movie, I spent the drive home trying to gather my thoughts about the whirlwind that is Denzel Washington, as Eli, on the big screen, a man of violence who longs for peace, a man who doesn’t “want any trouble,” but who brings trouble on all sorts of violent men, a man of simple faith in a world where nothing is simple, and faith isn’t even a memory. I spent some time processing why I was moved by this film.
Without seeking to be a spoiler, I want to mention two scenes that I think might be on my all-time favorite list:
- There is a scene where Eli prays over a meal. In normal circumstances, this sounds completely mundane, and unworthy of screen time. But in the ultra-barren landscape of a post-apocalyptic desert, both spiritually and verdantly, this scene almost brought me to tears. There was something so completely holy about a man, a man of violence and faith, teach a young girl, entirely post-christian, completely post-faith, how to pray to God. The prayer is one of astounding simplicity and gratitude. My own mealtime prayer carried greater weight that evening.
- There is one scene when Eli recites Scripture. He quotes Psalm 23 in it’s entirety. You know it, probably by heart. But you’ve not heard it in the dusty, desperate, Mad-Maxian world Eli inhabits. The hope it provides is palpable.
There were additional scenes that touched my heart…times when Eli stood honorably and un-tempted by his appetites, times when he listened to the Spirit of God leading him. He’s different, and everyone knows it.
Rarely does Hollywood produce a film that honors the Bible, rarely does it portray a man of simple faith and profound conviction. The whole movie was an incredible reminder of the POWER of the Words of God…an incredible valuing of the memorization of the Word, and reading the Word, and living the Word. In the movie Eil poured over the words of God. “I read it everyday.” Eli says simply.
I actually don’t think The Book of Eli will do well in the box-office, because it’s a paradox. While it doesn’t go completely over the Tarantino/Kill Bill line, my guess is that it’s too violent for the typical Christian movie-goer. (I anticipate some negative feedback from this post.) I want to warn you, if you thought Braveheart was too graphic, you need to skip this one. However, it’s also far too Christian for the typical agnostic, sci-fi, movie buff who went to see some standard negative-utopia film.
Friends, in all fairness, I must tell you that my wife hated this movie (not a good date choice). But I am smitten.
And here is why: I’ve got eight Bibles on my shelf in my church office. I’ve got three that I work from at my home office. I’m a guy who values the Word, who reads it daily, and who memorizes it periodically. But, the sheer value of Scripture that Eli carries. Is. Emotionally. Stirring.
And I want to value God’s Word that much.