IVP - Strangely Dim - I Need Thee Every Hour: The Devotional Journey of Jack Bauer

February 24, 2006

I Need Thee Every Hour: The Devotional Journey of Jack Bauer

I am a Christian fan of 24--the television show that chronicles the activities of counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in real time. I own four seasons of the show on DVD and three graphic novels based on the series. I enter contests and send e-mails to people associated with 24--some of whom have even written me back. My 24 superfan resume is nearly complete.

One thing I still lack: a book of devotional readings inspired by TV's 24.

Pop-culture-inspired Christian books are common currency in today's Christian publishing environment. Some such books address interesting questions: people everywhere are wondering what Jesus would say to Drew Barrymore, for example, and speculating what we would learn from a gospel according to McDonald's. There's also plenty of exploration going on to see how modern myths and fantasy tales--from the Chronicles of Narnia to Star Wars--correspond to the Christian story. Let's face it: my own book, Comic Book Character, cashes in on this curiosity.

But really, how many Christian books about The Matrix is one person willing to read? So the Christian publishing industry keeps casting the net wider. Recent entries into the world of pop-culture devotionals include meditations on Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Napoleon Dynamite. Not having read them, I won't comment on them except to say that they have super-cool covers. But the message behind this steady output of pop-culture Christian literature is essentially this: Anything goes.

"Anything goes" is, I suppose, a defensible notion. God told Moses to tell the Israelites to tell the Egyptians to give them all their stuff, and so the Israelites plundered the Egyptians, the argument goes. Why can't we plunder the treasures of pop culture for the glory and mission of God?

That may be true, but I'd like to test the theory (and, in the interest of full disclosure, feed my inner geek) by writing a devotional based on the anti-terrorist exploits of federal agent Jack Bauer. Consider what follows chapter one of my never-to-be-published, completely-tongue-in-cheek, utterly-at-odds-with-my-values I Need Thee Every Hour: The Devotional Journey of Jack Bauer:

Today Is the Longest Day of My Life

"Say it again, or I'll break your other wrist!" In pursuing the cause of justice and national security, Jack Bauer often has to resort to extreme measures. The willfulness of his opponents slows down Jack's progress without slowing down the clock. For Jack, every minute--every second--counts, and so he must count the cost of every delay.

Jack is an extreme disciple of justice--by any means necessary. Ultimately, Jack wins every contest of the wills because he is willing to do more, to his enemy and even to himself, than anybody else. Jack has submitted himself to prison, torture, even death in the pursuit of justice, and in the end his sacrifice is always vindicated.

As we attempt to live lives of personal virtue and righteousness, can the same be said of us? How far are we willing to go to be right with God? How much are we willing to sacrifice?

Sometimes, if we're honest, we'll recognize that too often we are like the terrorists Jack battles. Our will gets in the way of righteousness, and so our will must be broken. Once broken, it needs to be cast with a stronger mold so that we will what is right rather than what is wrong.

Once our will is rightly set, our story, and the story we find ourselves in, can continue to be told.

"Do not be like a horse or a mule,
without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed
with bit and bridle."
--Psalm 32:9

Once again--and please hear me on this--it's a JOKE! This is categorically NOT what I would want to read first thing in the morning. It would almost certainly guarantee the longest day of my life. Nevertheless, I welcome your comments.

***

For more meditations on why we love Jack Bauer, listen to the February 22 entry at Lin's Bin.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at February 24, 2006 11:48 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

I think that you should have built into your 24 devotional the characteristic "beep--beep--beep--beep". It could be on a light activated audio chip (a real thing!) so that when you open the book, you would hear the clock ticking.

This would, of course, help you to understand both how precious time is and how, oops! you just wasted another 4 seconds of it while not thinking about God! For Shame.

Comment by: Macon Stokes at February 24, 2006 3:34 PM

I completely take this in the spirit meant. Thanks, from one 24 loving Christian to another.

Fun post.

Chuck

Comment by: Chuck at February 28, 2006 5:26 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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