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The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, the Book of Eli is NOT a newly discovered “lost” or apocryphal book of the Bible but a dark, rather violent, post-apocalyptic movie starring Denzel Washington that is actually very intriguing. It certainly is not a Christian movie…it was not intended to be a Christian move….but it still had a few messages in it for us. It is about Eli, who has been traveling west on a mission for 30 years, and the Book he reads every night and does whatever is necessary to guard and protect it. WHATEVER is necessary.

If you can take the violence, and the language, etc. in this movie, it really has some compelling moments and messages.

Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you’d like to watch the movie and do NOT want the plot/action to be revealed, then don’t read any further.

After the “last great war” that devastated the world, all Bibles and other religious books were destroyed because some people believed that religion was a catalyst for this war. A Voice led Eli to discover a book hidden among the rubble from the war. This same Voice told Eli to take the Book west. No other instructions but that he would know it when he got where he was supposed to go and that he would be protected during his mission. He tells a young woman who ends up traveling with him:

Eli: The war tore a hole in the sky, the sun came down, burnt everything, everyone, I wandered, I didn’t really know what I should do or where I was going. I was just moving from place to place,trying to stay alive. And then one day I heard this voice. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like it was coming from inside me. But I could hear it clear as day. Clear as I can hear you talking to me now. It told me to carry the book west, it told me that a path would be laid out before me, that I’d be led to a place where the book would be safe. It told me I’d be protected, against anyone or anything that tried to stand in my way. If only I would have faith. That was thirty years ago, and I’ve been walking ever since
Solara: And you did all this because a voice told you to?
Eli: I know what I hear, I know what I heard, I know I’m not crazy, I didn’t imagine it.”

When she questions him about his mission:

Solara: You know, you say you’ve been walking for thirty years, right?
Eli: Right.
Solara: Have you ever thought that maybe you were lost?
Eli: Nope.
Solara: Well, how do you know that you’re walking in the right direction?
Eli: I walk by faith, not by sight.
Solara: [sighs] What does that mean?
Eli: It means that you know something even if you don’t know something.
Solara: That doesn’t make any sense.
Eli: It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s faith, it’s faith. It’s the flower of light in the field of darkness that’s giving me the strength to carry on. You understand?
Solara: Is that from your book?
Eli: No, it’s, uh, Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison.  (Chrystal here: Yes, Eli has a sense of humor…this is only one of Eli’s little quips.)

Solara: Do you really read the same book everyday?
Eli: Without fail.

During his travels, he comes across the villain of the story, Carnegie, a man who has an agenda of his own – to rule others. Carnegie is looking for a Book. A certain Book that he believes is very powerful.  He says, “I grew up with that book, I know its power.” And “This is not just a book, it’s a weapon aimed at the hearts and minds of the weak and desperate. It will give us control.” Too bad Carnegie didn’t understand the REAL POWER of the Book. Too bad that a lot of people do not understand its power.

Of course, Carnegie finds out that Eli has a Bible and thus begins the fight for possession of it.  This, of course, involves more violence…and involves Solara.
Earlier in the movie, Eli protected the Book with some really “impossible” almost super-human feats. A whirlwind with his sword, his gun and his body, he is ruthless against those who wished to harm him, thus preventing him from his journey…..even to the exclusion of helping others who were being attacked by Carnegie’s flunkies. He said to himself as he weighed whether he should jump into the fray:

Eli: Stay on the path. It’s not your concern. Stay on the path. It’s not your concern.

However, when the bad guys have captured him and Solara, he finally turns the Bible over to Carnegie to protect her.

Solara: I didn’t think you’d ever give up the book. I thought it was too important to you.
Eli: It was. I was carrying and reading it everyday. Got so caught up in protecting it, I forgot to live by what I’d learned from it.
Solara: And what’s that?
Eli: To do more for others than you do for yourself.

Who said a dark, post-apocalyptic, violent, very secular movie couldn’t teach us anything?

Then, although Eli was shot in the stomach, he continues west to complete his mission. And arrives at the island of Alcatraz to find a library of precious books and documents, etc. gathered since the war and its keeper Lombardi:

Lombardi: There’s a whole series of beautiful Mozart and Wagner records, in still very pristine condition. But, never a Bible. Until now. May I ask what condition it’s in?
Eli: It’s beat up. But it will do the job.

And as they sit down at a table:

Eli: Write everything exactly as I say it. The first book of Moses, called Genesis. Chapter 1, verse 1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Eli: Verse 2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Eli: Verse 3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Lombardi: [to his assistant] Could you get us some writing paper, please.
Eli: A lot of it. A whole lot of it.

I feel so motivated to not only read this Book EVERY DAY but Psalm 119:11 comes to mind: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee

Oh, and one last thing. When Carnegie opened the Bible he took from Eli…..it was in Braille. There was several foreshadowing moments about this.

Now you tell me….What can we learn from the Book of Eli?