Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fatherly Tenacity

Last night Jessica and I went for a "date" (father/daughter time). We saw the new movie "Taken" with Liam Neeson. The film is not really a story woven together with character development and plot twists. It accomplishes two other things though: (1) it's a fun action flick [a worthy reason to go sit in a theater to be sure], and (2) it invites the viewer to identify with the father's unshakable tenacity to rescue his daughter from a living hell [the Albanian sex trade industry]. The critic in me has to admit that one will find James Bond to be more multidimensional than Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills. However, if the view is willing to perform a little bit of the work of injecting greater depth into the character than was demanded by the director, the result can be an interesting emotional study.

When we see an interesting film, Jessica and I have developed the tradition of asking each other, "So...What was the argument of the movie?" In other words, did the movie have an overall point to make of message to convey in story form? Going beyond that, we may even explore how that message points toward truth we know as Christians. The assumption is that all stories, in one way or another point toward things we already know to be true. In this way, any given movie can be a shadowy reflection of truth previously revealed by God.

In "Taken," the father is willing to turn the world upside down (and is quite capable of doing so) to find his abducted daughter before she disappears forever into the sex trafficking underground. At times, the viewer may be a little shocked by the tactics Neeson's character employs to follow clue and get information. Our anti-torture liberal sensibilities might bristle at one scene wherein vital information is gained. However, we're invited to suspend judgment of the father for such tactics (and we do) because of his great love for his child. Fathers watching the film will be tempted to say to themselves, "I'd do that to rescue my daughter." Daughters are invited to ask themselves, "Would my Dad go through all that to save?"

For our discussion, we found this to loosely parallel to Jesus' parable of the lost sheep. If the Father will set aside the ninety nine to go find the hundredth lost sheep, how much more so will the Father scour the world to kind a lost child? "Are you not more precious to God than a sheep?" I asked Jessica. In like manner, if a fictitious father on screen will lay a swath of destruction in pursuit of his lost child, how much more will your Father in Heaven use all means to find you? When found, will you find relief in salvation akin to the daughter in "Taken?"

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