Friday, May 25, 2007

Jack Bauer: Looking for Grace?

OK, I admit it. I watch 24. Although I have watched it on and off for several seasons, this is the first year that I have seen every episode (sometimes by recorded delay). I know it has violence and some pretty unlikely plot twists (who would have thought that Bauer's father would be the greatest threat to our national security?) and I know that many Republicans are fans, but it challenges me as it puts our hero into situations where he has to make some difficult choices. And quite honestly, his moral compass is usually better than the elected leaders represented on the show.

As I watched the last scene last night (I had recorded it earlier in the week), it became clear to me that here was a man who needed some grace in his life. He started the season willing to die voluntarily to save his country after being held prisoner by the Chinese for years, he found out that both his father and brother were traitors, he rediscovered his lost love only to see her in a near-catatonic state, he was shot and beaten (but that's nothing new), and he was double-crossed by his superiors more times than one can count. He ended the season asking former Secretary of Defense Raines, "Why have I trusted men like you?" Good question (of course, it would be a pretty dull program if he didn't).

At the end of a horrendous day, our hero is basically saying, "What's this all about? Why have I gone through all this? What's the payoff?" These are good existential questions for a person looking for meaning, purpose, and maybe some forgiveness for his crimes.

Although Jack may not realize it, he has received grace in the response of loyal friends time and again. Audrey Raines (Jack's lover) is in no shape to console him, but Bill Buchanan (his former boss) and Karen Hays (the president's advisor) are willing to put their reputations and careers on the line because they trust Jack. What's the payoff for them? Simply knowing that they have stood by a person who is making the right decision in saving a 16-year-old boy (Jack's nephew) from kidnapping and death.

Grace is provided to Jack in the person of people who are willing to reach out and do what's right. That's not a bad coda to the season. Are Christians willing to do the same?

2 comments:

Jim Whitaker said...

From one 24 watcher to another. Nice use of a contemporary paradigm to see the implications of one’s moral compass. I think too often we do not take time to look at how we can use contemporary examples to reach people in understand such great truths as grace and the impact of Jesus in our lives. You might want to check out Jack Bauer's Having a Bad Day: An Unauthorized Investigation of Faith in 24: Season 1. An interesting take on spiritual truths in the first season of 24.

Jim Whitaker said...
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