K-PAX: Spiritual Gifts and Mystery | FCC 127

In the 2001 film K-PAX, a mysterious drifter named Prot (played by Kevin Spacey) finds himself in a mental hospital and under the care of Dr. Mark Powell (played by Jeff Bridges). Before he returns to his home planet of K-PAX, Prot gives Dr. Mark Powell the spiritual gift of faith. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more on the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:02:07 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:16:45 – Christian Themes in K-PAX, starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges
  • 00:47:22 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 00:50:33 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 00:52:42 – Lightning Round 
  • 00:53:37 – Upcoming

Spiritual Gifts for Bess, Howie, and Dr. Powell

No matter what you choose to believe about him, Prot is a fascinating character. He is a healer at some times, and he is a liberator at others. For three characters, he is a minister of physical needs as well as a bringer of spiritual gifts.

For Bess, he provides a new physical home and thus gives her the spiritual gift of hope. Bess’s story is a tragic one: an electrical fire took her home and her family when she was a young girl. Traumatized by the horrific experience, she refuses to speak. In addition to her history, she is also the butt of some of the jokes at the hospital. She really feels that she has no home and nobody that loves her. This is why she reaches out to Prot via the essay contest, and Prot grants her request by taking her with him back home to K-Pax. There, she can start life anew.

This image from K-PAX shows Jeff Bridges as Dr. Mark Powell.

To Howie, Prot gives a mission for his life on earth as well as the spiritual gift of peace. Howie is just an anxious guy; diagnosed with OCD, he spends his time in the hospital hyperactively fidgeting and fluttering around the space. Once Prot tells him to find the “bluebird of happiness,” Howie is so mystified by the idea that he has no other choice but to trust and obey. It shocks the staff to see Howie peacefully sitting at the window. And when an actual bluebird appears, he leaps for genuine joy – a joy that permeates the building.

As Prot is about to leave, he reveals that he needs Howie to stay behind and “be prepared.” The implication is that Howie is then charged with a responsibility to live on earth as if Prot were still with him. Prot has discipled Howie, and now it’s Howie’s turn to save the world.

Finally, to Dr. Mark Powell himself, Prot gives the gift of faith. Powell is a skeptical man, and he doesn’t believe a single word that Prot says for the longest while. But once Prot starts meeting every challenge that Powell can throw at him, Dr. Powell can’t help but obey his instructions in the end. He’s seen the effect Prot’s had on everyone else, and now Powell has faith in him, too.

The Mystery of Prot and the Mystery of God

To reiterate, Prot is a mysterious figure. Dr. Powell, his skeptical associates, and even we as the audience don’t get all the answers in the end. We don’t see his planet K-PAX, we don’t see his transform into a beam of light, and we don’t see him magically healing people left and right. Like Powell’s friend Dave, we don’t know what we believe, but we know what we see.

The same can be said for God. We don’t see Him nor can we experience Him with any of our five senses, but we can see the effect He has on people. And if anything, as the Scripture says, the mystery of God has been revealed through Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we want to better understand God, we need only look as far as Jesus’s life on earth.

This image from K-PAX shows Kevin Spacey as Prot.

In any case, we can certainly follow Peter’s example as well as Dr. Powell’s example and still trust and obey. Peter didn’t fully understand everything going on when Jesus was resurrected, but he still fed Jesus’s sheep when Jesus told him to do so. Dr. Powell didn’t fully understand everything going on with Prot, but he still took care of the catatonic Robert Porter when Prot told him to do so. This faithful obedience can apply to us as well; we don’t have to know all of the answers to trust and obey Jesus.

Key Texts for K-PAX

Let these passages be your guide as you watch K-PAX with friends and loved ones.

John 6:28-29 NASB

Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

John 21:15-17 NLT

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

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 way to use good stories to soften people's hearts.
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys! First, congratulations to Brenden on his new weight loss journey, I’m confident you have many people praying for you & rooting for you. And congrats on the new radio broadcast. I’m so happy to hear that this great show will reach a wider audience!

    It’s been a while since I watched K-Pax back in November when I heard you were going to do it for the show. Listening to your discussion helped me clarify the story in my head, and I agree that Prot was inhabiting Kevin Spacey’s body, and indeed left with the one lady at the end. It seems obvious in retrospect, but was a bit muddled in my brain.
    Something you mentioned clicked with me, as I was having trouble identifying Christian themes, and it was how Prot became a human and used it to help and serve others. That reminded me of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23(NET) ” For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law. To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law. To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.”
    That is such a great passage to live by, and it shows how we can be effective in a practical sense when trying to witness the Gospel, and makes you scratch your head at how prevalent legalism remains to this day.

    I have a question for you guys- do you think Prot came just to explore Earth, and decided to help people he found in need while he was here? Or do you think he came primarily to help people?

    I’m digging the Secret Fire podcast, and am all caught up and ready for the next chapter of Fellowship of the Ring,

    Great job, love the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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