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My Life At The Movies: The Book Of Eli

The Setting: A restaurant in Dar Es Salaam. The Situation: A dinner with a world-renowned religious figure. So there I was sitting across from Russell M. Nelson, (the Mormon apostle and accomplished heart surgeon), and I couldn’t come up with anything to say. Then he asked me a question, he said, “Jon, what do you plan on doing when you get home?” Without hesitation I replied, “I want to take theology in university.” Shaking his head slightly, he closed our brief conversation with the words, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Suffice it to say I didn’t listen to him. I followed my own path, according to my own convictions. Like Denzel Washington’s character in “The Book of Eli,” I believed what I was doing was right despite the obstacles placed in my way.

The Book of Eli is a Kubrick-esque film about a religious man in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s the story of what religion is to different people; to the apathetic masses, the would-be kings, and the faithful few. Eli represents the faithful, and the struggles that come with being such.

Despite what some people may tell you, I know what it is to struggle for one’s faith. Now, I’m not talking the faith I was raised with, I’m talking that which is my own. Like Eli I find religion starts in isolation; away from friends, away from family, and away from past obligations. I’ve been seemingly isolated for a decade now, and though that time alone has been difficult, it has also forced me to be honest with myself.

I also find myself in company with Eli with regards to the importance of prayer. This is not to say I clasp my hands together every time food is placed before me, but rather that I accept the necessity to express gratitude for all that life gives me.

Lastly, I find a kinship with Eli when considering the need to be humbled. I know the stench of pride, I smell it every time I give an opinion. Like Eli I must be told over and over again that what should really matter, is not being better than someone, but rather seeing I’m really no different.

I was humbled years ago when a valued public figure told me to reconsider my dreams. I was humbled when I went through theology school and suffered towards triumph. Yet I survived, and my faith stays strong. I just hope a little bit of that humility enters into this blog I call “My Life at the Movies”.

Jon Godfrey

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