“It’s a scary thing, to not know your place in this world.”
That is one of the lines from Mr. Glass, played by Samuel L. Jackson in M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, Unbreakable.
I watched the film again last night with my father in law, who had never seen it. It was another one of those movies that you have to see more than once to really figure it out and even more to really appreciate what’s going on in it.
One way I can describe the film is that it is the essence of Rick Warren’s, “Purpose Driven Life” set to film—especially the seeking of purpose and meaning and the desperate steps some are willing to take to find and/or manufacture it. And especially the search for purpose or meaning apart from God.
Men, from my perspective (which includes myself) especially have a hard time identifying what they are doing as worthwhile. Does it matter? Am I making a difference?
With me, I work in the realm of ideas—much of my work is communicated in a sermon on Sunday mornings or during study times. Other parts of what I do is influencing people’s lives, ministering when they are hurting, counseling, praying. There are few little tangible things I can point to and say, “I did that.” It’s hard to say when I have accomplished or finished something.
This film really explores that subject. Each morning, the main character, David Dunn wakes up sad—because he’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing—he’s run away from his calling in life and it is eating away at him, making him a poor husband and father.
I understand what the character is going through. For years I denied being called as a Pastor. I tried to do anything else, but God wouldn’t let be happy or satisfied doing anything else. Even though I’m now doing what I’m supposed to be doing, some days are more difficult than others.
The Mr. Glass character is desperate to find an explanation for his existence and his condition—his bones break easily because he doesn’t produce an enzyme well. He is scared, terrified to consider that there is no reason or explanation for it. That he is a cosmic accident. Even though his mother tries to pass on a faith and trust in God, he clearly finds it unsatisfying. And so—SPOILER ALERT-- he is willing to do anything, even mass murder, to find something that will satisfy and remove the cold, pit of darkness and purposelessness that has been haunting him.
Just finding his “meaning” is enough to satisfy and makes even being incarcerated in a mental institution worth it. "Now that we know who you are, I know who I am", he says. A brilliant mind is desperate to find meaning.
The popularity of Rick Warren’s book would seem to suggest that there are many people desperately searching for meaning. The second chapter is titled, “You Are Not An Accident”. Maybe Night should write in a future story someone giving him a copy of PDL!!!
Several themes are important in the film which I would recommend (only a couple incidents of profanity). Here’s a few that stand out to me.
Our Desperate need for Purpose—which only God can supply—every single person has a place of significance in God’s plan—we miss out on life when we refuse to participate. And when we try to find it apart from God, we spiral into brokenness and destruction
Ordinary Heroes—the men and women God uses are not the best, most popular, best looking, wealthiest—He uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Those the world considers ordinary can, in their faithfulness, have a cosmic impact. Philip Yancey’s book, “Disappointment With God” has a chapter called, “A Role in the Cosmos”. In it he says, “the faith of a single human being counts for very much indeed. Job affirms that our response to testing matters. The history of mankind—and, in fact, my own individual history of faith—is enclosed within the great drama of the history of the universe.
Unfulfilled Purpose affects your role as Husband and Father. David Dunns marriage is in shambles, he keeps his wife and son distant, his son desperately wants a reason to connect with his father.
Have you seen the movie? What do you think? Any other important themes?
Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,