Thursday, July 29, 2010

Be the Book

A few days ago, my spouse and I watched The Book of Eli. I wanted to see it because I'm a sucker for a good apocalyptic film. I didn't expect to find it spiritually rewarding.

I don't want to give away too much of the movie. It features Denzel Washington as Eli, a man who survived a nuclear blast and saved one of the last existing Bibles. A voice told him to head west where he'd find a community that would welcome the book, and so 30 years later, he's still walking west.

Another major character controls a town through violence and brutality; oddly, he's desperate for a Bible. Gangs of his workers scour the landscape and bring back sacks of books (among them, in a moment of humor, The Da Vinci Code).

Throughout the scenes of conflict, I wondered what would happen if modern Christians were as desperate for a Bible as the characters in this movie. Eli reads his Bible every day, as he has for at least 30 years. As a result, he can quote large chunks of it. What would happen if modern Christians committed to that reading schedule?

We'd probably find ourselves in a similar situation to Eli, as he tries to live a life that's in alignment with the values that he finds in the Bible. He's one of the only ones in the world of that movie who has that Bible. Imagine how we would transform the world if all the world's Christians read the Bible on a daily basis and let the words shape our daily actions.

In the movie, Eli has limited interactions with other people, but his ethical life transforms those with whom he has extended contact. In many ways, he becomes the Bible, in a world of illiterate people. We, too, have a call to become the book that shapes our lives--or should shape our lives.

We live a life of cushioned comfort, most of us. Our Bibles gather dust on the shelf, as do many other books. In the dusty world of a post-nuclear blast, books are revered and rare. There must be a way to live in between these extremes.

We can start by reading our Bibles more often and by trying to make our outer actions match our inner beliefs. We can be the book.

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