Seeing Beyond in THE GIVER | FCC 48

On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we get our daily injection and go up to the Ceremony as we look for Christian themes in THE GIVER. Is Baby Gabriel a good fig or a bad fig? What about Jonas’s ability to “see beyond”? All that and more in 3…2…1!

*Disclaimer: Due to the icy weather trapping Brenden and his vehicle within the confines of his driveway, this episode was recorded via Google Hangout and is therefore rife with technical difficulties and poor audio quality. We apologize for the persistent echo and hope that the value of the content outweighs such nuisance.

Gabriel the Good Fig

Baby Gabriel has been labeled as an Uncertain; that is, it is “uncertain” as to whether he will live and grow as a functional member in the Community or he will be “released” into Elsewhere. Until the time comes for such a decision to be made, Jonas’ father agrees to care for the child. It is when Gabriel arrives at the home when Jonas finally sees a mark on Gabriel’s arm – the same mark Jonas has on his own arm. This establishes the bond between Jonas and Gabriel that eventually grows into self-sacrificial love; this same love is tested when it is revealed that Gabriel will be “released” – that is, euthanized – and Jonas makes the choice to rescue Gabriel and give him the hope for a better future.

This is where we can call Gabriel a “good fig” as understood in Jeremiah 24. Jeremiah is given a vision of two baskets of figs: one is a basket of good figs, and the other is a basket of rotten figs. God compared the good figs to the exiles of Judah who, even though they were released into a type of Elsewhere, would be protected by God Himself. Not only that, but He would restore them and then give them something they never would have had before:

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 24:7)

Just as Jonas loves Gabriel  so much that he will save him from death, God loves us so much that He will do (and technically already has done) the same.

This is an image from THE GIVER, and it features Brenton Thwaites as Jonas carrying the baby Gabriel across the desert of Elsewhere.

Jonas and Seeing Beyond with Faith

Of course, Jonas is really the only one with the capacity to love others like that. After all, he has been chosen to be the Receiver of Memory because of his capacity to “see beyond” the world in front of him. Not everyone has this ability in the first place, and the only other person with it at all is a crazy hermit who lives on the border between the Community and Elsewhere. This other person who is able to “see beyond” is the original Receiver of Memory who, because he has been replaced as such, has been upgraded to Giver of Memory (hence the title of the story). The Giver is a great example of the Paraclete in that he gives hope and love to Jonas, and because he has this relationship with Jonas, the latter is able to act on faith. The Giver is able to encourage Jonas to make things better, and Jonas, being filled with the Giver’s confidence, is able to ultimately make things better.

It reminds us of the Parable of the Lamp in Mark 4. Jesus sets it up like this: no one would hide the light a lamp gives off but instead would hoist it up and let it shine for the world around it. Jesus then sums it up like this:

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Mark 4:24-25)

Just as Jonas was able to receive the love and support the Giver was providing – because he knew the unadulterated truth and he wasn’t deceiving himself – we can likewise best receive the love and support God provides when we stop trying to live by the lie that we can save ourselves and thus lean on His efforts instead of our own.

This is an image from the film THE GIVER that shows Brenton Thwaites as Jonas looking at Fiona's red hair for the first time.

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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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