So, like I said yesterday, The Adjustment Bureau caused me to think. A lot.
I should warn you, I can’t explain these thoughts without spoiling it and, to be honest, they probably won’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t seen it. Watch it first, then return. You have been told.
I think the reason it intrigued me so much was the blatant comparison you could draw between everything going on in the film and Christianity/Christian doctrine.
The Chairman = God
The Adjustment bureau = angels of some sort
The Plan = well, THE plan
And it makes all kinds of interesting assertions about these things:
They say that only the Chairman has the plan. Funny that, because only God has the plan (not even the Son knows the hour of his return, remember?). They also say that the Chairman comes in a different form to everyone; a rather nice concession to society’s universalist “whatever you want to believe is fine for you” idea. And the Chairman is also free and able to change the plan – something which some Christians would have serious issue with.
These angel/agent people are an interesting bunch. I thought it slightly odd that they were all men (not very PC, surely). One of them describes them as not being built to lead with their emotions like human beings are.
And then there’s the thing the whole film revolves around: the plan. Or fate. Either way, its contrast with Matt Damon’s free will opens all kinds of questions, questions I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past few months.
One of the agents at one point explains to Damon that the Bureau exists to ensure everything goes to “plan”. They can change tiny details or the paths of our reason to ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time. There have apparently been a couple of times when they’ve left humanity to it to fend for themselves. However, this only led to the dark ages and the catastrophic 20th century. Apparently we can’t be trusted. Instead we are given the “illusion” of free will and they keep us on track.
Matt Damon’s just not so keen on this idea: it would mean never being with the woman he loves.
“I disagree with you about what my fate is”
His emotions, how he feels, are more important.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fate/predestination/providence/the plan and have pretty much only come up with questions:
Does God have a plan? If God doesn’t change, the plan doesn’t change. So God knows exactly what’s going to happen?Which means that God includes sin in His plan?
If God doesn’t include sin in His plan, then God must change his plan to account for our sin? So God changes? Or doesn’t know what we’re going to do? So is limited in His knowledge?
And if there is a plan and God does know the manner in which we will follow it, do we really have free will? Do we need free will? If we don’t have free will, does God choose who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? If we don’t have free will, does God cause us to sin?
Maybe you’re beginning to see why this film caused me so many issues . . .
And how often does God reveal his plan, show us the way, and we just turn around and ignore him? Is our ignoring the “plan” a part of the actual plan? And can we change the plan?
Damon does. In the end he and Blunt “inspire” the Chairman to re-write it. He leaves them a blank page upon which to write their own destiny. Because, apparently, “Free will is a gift you will never know how to use until you fight for it”.
I do know that, somehow, God is in control. I also know that, somehow, I have free will. And I know that when I petition God, things change. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the order in which any of these things happen or the way in which God uses our sinfulness in this plan of his.
I guess it’s all a matter of faith and, at times, you have to fight for that.