Cillian Murphy as a model for Christians?
August 13th, 2006 by teragram

I don’t know whether or not Mr Murphy is a Christian, but for the sake of this post it doesn’t matter. I want to talk about his character in the Wind that Shakes the Barley. For those who haven’t seen it yet, there are spoilers below, so you might prefer to see the film before you read this.

In John chapter 6, Jesus tells a synagogue: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”

Some disciples found this teaching so repugnant that they left and “no longer followed him.” If they had understood what He meant, would they have found it any less disturbing? Jesus didn’t use the imagery lightly. The idea of eating His flesh is repugnant. Gaining sustenance from His death is disturbing! But that’s what we Christians do. We gain eternal life by accepting Jesus’ death. That is no small thing.

So where does Cillian Murphy come in? His character in the Wind that Shakes the Barley is called Damien. At one point in the film Damien is ordered to kill a young man who informed on his column. Damien turns to a friend and says: “this Ireland we’re fighting for … I hope it’s worth it”, and then he shoots the young man he’s known from childhood.

This event becomes extremely important for Damien’s later decisions. Referring to it, he tells his girlfriend “I’ve really crossed the line”. Towards the end, when Damien is explaining why he can’t accept the treaty, he makes it clear that the shooting is an important part of his reasoning. Once he had gone so far as to kill that young man he couldn’t settle for anything less than he’d started out fighting for. One way to look at it is that he had crossed a line, but it doesn’t quite capture what I’m trying to get at. Think of it this way: in order to justify that act to himself at the time, and now, he must know that what he is fighting for is worth it. He couldn’t say that this treaty was worth it.

I need to be careful here, and point out that I am not saying, by any means, that we must make ourselves worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice. What I am saying is this: I, by becoming a Christian, accepted something repugnant, radical, and shocking – Jesus’ death for my sake. I cannot now accept anything in my life which is inconsistant with that, or I make a mockery of it.


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