5 Truths About Christian Life that the Bourne Trilogy Reminded Me Of
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It’s true that movies about spies, shootings, and chases (like the Bourne Trilogy) have little to do with the faith. Nevertheless, it’s good to try to analyze if, at any part of the movie, there are any good elements worth rescuing.
Not long ago, I watched for the first time the three movies (from the past decade) about super agent Jason Bourne. The three movies are very similar. Jason (Matt Damon) has no memory. He finds himself in some part of the world (always an incredible city), he doesn’t remember who he is, and there’s always someone trying to kill him. It’s a simple plot, but it works in the three movies. We know that Jason is not going to die because, duh, he’s the protagonist, but the director manages to make the plot as entertaining as possible to captivate and amuse the audience for the duration of each movie.
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However, if one watches the three movies as one big story, there are some elements that could be useful for our Christian lives.
1. Love what you are and love your circumstances
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The three movies show this very evidently. Bourne (whose real name is David) cannot reject his past. His actions define him, they’ve shaped him who he is since the beginning of the trilogy (what we understand as “his present”), and that’s precisely what happens to us. There’s no use in complaining about what does or doesn’t happen to us. Rejecting the past prevents us from enjoying the present, and keeps us from seeing the future. Rejecting what one is, is basically a way of expressing that one is not happy with a decision made in the past, which resulted in the present we complain about. Our mistakes define us as much as our good decisions. How? In the way we solve them. When we recognize that we have committed a mistake: do we complain about it? Or do we take it as a life lesson in order to avoid committing it again in the future? I think Jason is very stubborn… I’ll have to watch the next to movies to figure him out.
2. Mistakes shape us, but they aren’t determinative
We can easily be tempted to believe that there’s no solution for us… that having this or that defect will keep us from getting on. False. A mistake is not something that sticks to us and dominates us completely. No. Mistakes, as I said, are things from the past. They happened in the past and that’s where they will stay. It’s important to understand this: Mistakes do not determine you as a person. You are not your mistakes. You are a child of God prone to committing mistakes. But the greatness of God’s love for his children lies, in part, in giving us the possibility of standing up from our falls and learning from the experience. Don’t get stuck in the past; live the present and you will find yourself being loved by God, Who loves to the end. Jason Bourne does this. If his mistakes had determined him, Bourne would have killed every CIA agent that tried to kill him, but he didn’t. Once he realized who he was and who he had been, the hero of this story stops killing just for the sake of it. I am not praising him, he’s a questionable character, but in the three movies we can see that he fights against the mistakes he’s committed.
3. The ease to blame others
This is most perceptible in the third movie of the series. Jason blamed the creators of Treadstone, but Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) reminds him that it was he and only he who entered the program and gave up his identity as David Webb to become Jason Bourne. No one forced him to do it, he turned in his badge. But the truth is that it’s easier to simply blame others, isn’t it? “He made me do it,” “she forced me to do it,” “I didn’t have any other option,” etc. It’s good to say a mea culpa and distinguish our own blame from that of others, after all, we are not capable of carrying everyone’s faults, we are not Jesus 😉
4. Truth doesn’t hide forever
In general, the movie trilogy is about Bourne’s constant search for the truth. There are times when Bourne wants to give up, but circumstances keep inviting him to get closer to the truth, until he finally finds it. We are called to do the same, to let ourselves be enlightened by Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To stay still is almost to go backwards. “A fish that doesn’t swim against the tide is dead.” One must not die inside. It’s all about constantly moving towards the truth.
5. The blindness of the selfish person
The dispute over power has existed ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in order to “be like God.” The thirst for power is the force that drives people in the three movies. Bourne and the people who join his cause are the obstacles that keep his enemies from reaching their objectives, which is why they are always trying to kill him. Does it sound familiar? In a culture as sexualized as ours, a baby that is born constitutes an obstacle to have a “one night stand.” The baby becomes an obstacle to someone who only seeks pleasure, thus abortion seems like the “solution” to the problem. In Tolstoy’s words: “Man desires sensual enjoyment, but not children — he wants to disregard the law of nature, but how can he practice one without the other. But children are born and impede the desired continuance of pleasure, therefore man, who only wishes to enjoy, must devise a remedy to overcome this impediment.” This can only be explained as the blindness caused by selfishness. Because a selfish person is one who only sees him or herself and, as a consequence, doesn’t see others. Thus, we cannot love ourselves more than our neighbor, but in the same measure.
This post originally appeared here for Catholic-Link Spanish. It has been translated into English by Lorena Tabares.