Eagle Eye, with Shia LeBoughertgey (the latter is silent), is a techno-thriller that was a decent movie. What struck me is that the movie portrays two very different ideas of the mastermind Eagle Eye, and they correlate nicely to images of God
- To the good guys, they are given tasks by a shadowy puppetmaster. They each function like cogs in a machine ran by a shadowy spider head that is pushing them forward through sheer inertia and threats.
- To Eagle Eye, Shia and Michelle Monaghan are called as modern-day minutemen, as ordinary citizens called up to oppose a corrupt government. Each member is recruited and has no knowledge of the greater goals or even of each other until they perform the specific roles and actualize their potential in a distributed terrorist network.
Both of these images of Eagle Eye’s activity correlate to popular concepts of God.
- God as puppetmaster, as the one who controls all the strings and causes us to dance. Sure, we have free will, but the puppetmaster moves us where God wants us. This has various forms in contemporary bad-boy Calvinism which is called determinism, or where God determines what will happen and predestines events and actions.
- God as giving a purpose (or role) to each individual and it is up to them to see how they fit into the distributed network. This is the key concept behind the Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, that if we find our God-given purpose, we actualize our potential.
I think many of us see God as Eagle Eye, as a force which causes bad things to happen when we do bad things (much like Eagle Eye punishes Shia when he ‘disobeys’), but also gives us a purpose that we are eventually pushed towards. Some purposes are mundane (like the TSA agent changing the x-ray machine at the airport), and some are huge (like Michelle delivering ‘the package’). Coincidences are God connecting different chess pieces into a greater vision and purpose drawn inexorbitably together.
But what happens to defeat this understanding of “God” in the movie? The turning point occurs when Michelle refuses to eliminate Shia, even though she has complied (to the extreme) in all other areas. Why? Because she has gotten to know Shia and even with Shia’s acceptance of this outcome, Michelle won’t do it. Michelle’s breaking the chain of “commands” allows Shia to become free and eventually stop Eagle Eye. The closer Michelle drew to Shia, the closer they made decisions based on their relationship instead of being unwilling subjects to the all-powerful Eagle Eye.
In the same way, ideas of determinism and Calvinism fall short when we experience and grow closer in our relationship with God. God ceases to be a puppetmaster and becomes a companion on the journey, opening possibilities instead of willing purposes.
Moses’ concept of God undergoes a similar transformation on the mountaintop when God’s anger burns bright, about to wipe out the idol-worshipping Hebrews, and Moses argues with God. While it is questionable whether God actually changes God’s mind, Moses transforms from a willing subject into a companion who feels he can challenge and question God…all formed by Moses working with God for a long time saving the Hebrew people. Moses had a relationship with God, and that relationship allowed Moses to question God.
When we allow relationships to form our reactions, when we allow depth of relationships to trump society’s threats to “keep us to the script” then we experience transformation not only of our selves, but of our image of God. When we rebel against society’s scripts that say that women should be in the kitchen and black Americans know their place in the fields, then we experience transformation. When we cease to give power to God as Eagle Eye, then we cease following the Law and instead live in the unpredictable currents of the Spirit.