The Bourne Trilogy: Spiritual Amnesia

Posted: August 9, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama
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I was given my first Robert Ludlum novel back in high school.  It just so happened to be The Bourne Identity (first published in 1980, for all of you youngsters out there).  My most vivid memory of that novel was that it was the first book that I couldn’t put down.  I think I finished it in just a few days.  The story was so compelling, the action so blindingly fast for a novel at that time–it was the best story I had ever read!  I became a Robert Ludlum junkie after that, reading many of his books…and definitely each Bourne book as it hit the shelf.

So, you can imagine my excitement when the first of the Bourne Trilogy was released in 2002 (Trivia: A Made-for-TV version of The Bourne Identity actually hit the airwaves in 1988, starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith.  It actually stuck much closer to the novel!)  Anyway, I really enjoyed the first Bourne film, and thought Matt Damon was tailor made for the role.  The Bourne Identity veered from the storyline in the novel way too much for my taste (no ending battle with Carlos, etc.), but that’s Hollywood!  As the other two movies were released, I was quick to see them in the theater, and it was well worth it.  The trilogy, in the end, is a good representation of Ludlum’s original works.

So now we have the release of a Damon-less Bourne film this weekend: The Bourne Legacy.  I like what I see in the trailers, and the reviews seem promising.  I will be previewing that movie for you tomorrow.  Jeremy Renner has some big shoes to fill!

For this post, let’s reminisce about The Bourne Trilogy.  If you have never seen the movies, here’s a VERY brief summary courtesy of IMDB: “A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and without memory, then races to elude assassins and recover from amnesia.  He is later forced to take up his former life as a trained assassin to survive.  Finally, Bourne searches for and discovers the origins of his life as a government-trained killer.”  Essentially, the three movies revolve around a question of IDENTITY.  Who is Jason Bourne?  Why is he such a skillful killer?  What is his future?  Will he continue to be who he is, or someone else?

Now what has always struck me about this story (and others like it) is that when Jason begins to get his memory back and discovers he’s an assassin, he’s totally distressed about it.  Why?  Why wouldn’t he recover from amnesia and be proud that his life is about killing people–especially bad guys?  It’s like waking up from a coma and realizing that you are really James Bond.  Shouldn’t that be exciting rather than depressing?  I think I’d be excited (yes, I’ve always fantasized about being a CIA agent with Children’s Ministry Director just being my cover).  Okay, so I know the answer to my incredulity here: No one really wants to wake up and discover he is a bad guy!  We all want to think of ourselves as good people.  So, in our politically correct times, assassin=bad…and all people are supposed to be good.  So I guess I understand why Jason wants to get to the bottom of how he became a killer–and then escape from that reality.

Let’s try to tie this into the world in which you and I live (unless you really are an amnesiac assassin).  As Christians, our identities are IN CHRIST.  We are His.  We are redeemed by Him, loved by Him, and then TRAINED by Him to live as His disciples in this world.  Just like Jason Bourne we are EQUIPPED for our mission and sent into the world to do it.  Yet also like Mr. Bourne, many Christians suffer from amnesia–spiritual amnesia.  We can forget who we are.  We can lose our sense of identity.  Especially with regular, besetting sin, our spiritual amnesia can cause us to question if we really are Christians.  And, when Christians live just like their pagan neighbors, they are telling themselves and the world they have forgotten who they really are.

Our propensity towards recurring spiritual amnesia is why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.  It’s why we need our minds renewed.  It’s why we need to regularly gather as the people of God in worship, fellowship, and service.  It is just too easy to forget that we are Christians!  And it doesn’t even take a bullet wound to give us amnesia–it is the attacks of the Devil that can produce our amnesiac slumber.

So we all need to remember the words of Colossians 3:2-3 (ESV), “Set your minds on thing that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  As believers, there’s our true identity.  Our lives are hidden, secure, and safe in Christ.  When we truly know this truth, then we can live out Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…”  

Christians who put away their spiritual amnesia, and know who they REALLY are, can do all things in the name of Christ! 


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