Skip to content Skip to footer

Licensed To Live Justly – Part 1

Quantum of Solace (2008) is the twenty-second James Bond film. The second film starring Daniel Craig. In the film, Bond battles wealthy businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of the Quantum organization, who poses as an environmentalist who intends to stage a coup d’état (a decisive force in politics to overthrow an existing government) in Bolivia in the hope of seizing the control of the nation’s water supply.  

When director, Marc Forster, was interviewed about the plot, he was clear that he was making a statement about corruption in third-world countries’ governments and corporations exploiting the impoverished access to water.  He says,

“Because Bond plays it real, I thought the political circumstances should be real too, even though Bond shouldn’t be a political film,” says Forster. “I thought the more political I make it, the more real it feels, not just with Bolivia and what’s happening in Haiti, but with all these corporations like Shell and Chevron saying they’re green because it’s so fashionable to be green. During the cold war, everything was very clear, the good guys and the bad guys. Today there’s much overlapping of good and bad. It isn’t as morally distinct because we all have both elements in us.”

Carty, Ciaran (November 2nd, 2008). “‘I felt there was a pain in Bond.'” Sunday Tribune. It was archived from the original on December 6th, 2008, retrieved November 2nd, 2008.

It is easy to identify the multiple themes of injustice in the James Bond films throughout the years. And in so many ways, the fictional reality of the Bond character exists because injustice exists. Could we say that Bond films, in all its theatrics, give us some principles on living out justice?


Thoughts on the use of Bond as an illustration.

Now let me pause to say something important to myself and those reading. I grew up with the Bond films, and what I didn’t see then, I do see now. And that is true of a lot of the entertainment I consumed throughout the years, and I have become more selective and repentant as I am older. Jesus and Holiness have a way of doing that to a person. We must remember that Holiness impacts the heart, mind, eyes, ears, and all behavior. And not just on Sunday for an hour. 

As I look back on the surface, the earlier Bond films might have been entertaining, but at what cost? I would argue that if you look through the eyes of your sister, mother, or daughter, you might see them differently. Yet entertainment doesn’t ask us to do that, right? It assumes a lot about the differentiation of the consumer.

I recognize Ian Fleming today would not have gotten away with many of the misogynist traits, innuendos, or mistreatment of women that he did in his writings and then films, or would he? I might be able to argue that many similar current themes found in the objectification of women, in particular, are still portrayed in the films and TV shows we popularize and stream. 

And I think, in addition to discerning past films, I need to look at the present with new eyes on entertainment that objectives women. A lot more can be said, but I will leave that for another post.

My goal in writing this is not to say we must emulate Bond to be a Justice advocate or ally but to use pop culture reference to illustrate that even our culture is crying out to do what is right. 

My friend, Rich Villodas, yes I said it even though we only met once (isn’t that how friendships start), said the following:

I agree. I would add the wisdom of Gandhi, as he stated in an address at Kingsley Hall in London on October 17th, 1931, 

For I can see that in the midst of death, life persists. In the midst of untruth, truth persists. In the midst of darkness, light persists. Hence I gather that God is life, truth, and light. He is love. He is the supreme good. But, he is no God who merely satisfies the intellect if he ever does. God, to be God, must rule the heart and transform it. He must express himself in every smallest act of his [goodery?]. “

Maybe amid some cultures’ revelation, the darkness displayed in entertainment, a light persists, and although small, some small act of ‘goodery’ bursts forth. And please know I am not advocating you watch or try to enjoy the Bond films.

And I would add that I am fully aware of the admonition found In 1 John 2:15-17 about not loving what the world has to offer. I don’t think that is what I am trying to do. Instead, I love the world by empathetically hearing the longings and losses entertainment provides as sometimes an illustration of a more profound truth that helps us reach those we see on the screen exploited. Because in real life and faith practice, that is what counts. 

That is my humble approach to using the illustration.

Justice can be defined as the right exercise of power and authority. And injustice is the abuse of that exercise.  And in the Bond films, James often is the person who stands in between.

I define biblical justice as this:Justice is not just a temporal problem seeking temporal solutions but a spiritually formed calling both individually and communally bringing a spiritual solution, Jesus.”

And so our calling as Jesus’ Justice agents is to stand in the in-between to bring Jesus as a viable solution to our temporal injustices. 

For many of us, the exotic and over-the-top world that James Bond exists in is not our reality; however, every day, we have an opportunity to be a justice agent.  In some small or big way, as Christ’s followers, we ensure that we or others are not abusing the rights of power and authority. 

In our homes, as parents or spouses, or as children, align our lives so that we are not abusing our power or authority and bringing Jesus into the in-between.

In relationships, workplaces, or communities locally and globally, being a justice agent brings Jesus into the temporal problem. 

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. – James 2:14-17

“In the same way faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead!”

How about living out and practicing justice, becoming a Justice Agent?   

Throughout the book, James challenges us on multiple levels of our faith, but we often circle back to our faith being connected to how we treat one another.  

James believes that simply having knowledge of our faith is insufficient. He believes that we and those around us should experience our faith and the justice that God wants to bring to our world.  

Next Post: Licensed to Live Part 2 “Who is Running the Agency.”

You are Loved!

Leave a comment