Faithspotting “Tenet”

Mike and Kenny discuss the film and faith elements spotted in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Listen to the Tenet Episode:

Warner Brothers Pictures

While Tenet is a very complex film that may require a second viewing to more fully understand the complexity, it is also a film that is worthy of a second viewing. In addition to the complex plot, it is a stunning visual and auditory experience that will suffer greatly if seen even in the best home theater. 

Faith elements include Spotted:

God as Alpha and Omega,. While it pushes human imagination, God the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit pre-exist time and creation. There never was nor will be a time without God. (Revelation 21:1-7)

Apocalyptic Scripture and the whole Truth amidst less than full understanding: Given the complex plot and stunning, mind bending visuals, viewing Tenet can be similar to reading apocalyptic Scriptures. In his introduction to his commentary on the Book of Revelation for the New Interpreters Bible, Christopher Rowland offers guidance in approaching Apocalyptic Biblical texts:

To decode Revelation as if it were Morse code- a language whose only function is to conceal and is a means to an end, namely, the communication of something that has to be kept secret- fails to take seriously the apocalyptic medium. John, as the recipient of a revelation from Jesus Christ, has bequeathed to us an apocalypse , a prophesy, not a narrative or an epistle, a text requiring of its readers different interpretive shills- imagination and emotion for example.1

The symbolism of the visions and codes taken from the experiences of the books’ writers and their communities, The Books of Revelation, Daniel, and to a lesser extent, portions of the synoptic Gospels, Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, can be difficult for modern readers to understand and follow. The codes, imagery, and mysteries can be for readers a distraction and block the greater Truth, teaching, and experience gained from reading the passages. While study of the history and cultural context can provide greater understanding regarding the meaning of the images and symbols, embracing the mystery of these and others aspects of Scripture and God is a part of deepening one’s faith.

If one gets stuck trying to understand every component of the film Tenet as it is presented, one is likely to get lost very quickly. However if one excepts the mystery of some of the film’s plot etc. one will be in a better position to follow the and have a better experience of the film.

John David Washington

The non-linear, mysterious, and expansive nature of God: Similar to above, the reality of God is infinitely beyond human imagination and capacity to understand. Part of one’s faith is a willingness to accept and embrace the mystery that is God. The human tendency to limit God to the boundaries of human experience and laws of creation, is an act of disobedience and fear rather than faith. (Adam and Eve in Genesis disobeying God in an effort to fully understand if not be like God, (Genesis 3:1-14) (Job 15:1-9) (Ephesians 3) (I Corinthians 1:18-25)

Greed vs. Love: The greed fueled desire to own and control others is the antithesis of faith, righteousness and love for God. Such is in contrast to the desire and willingness to sacrifice oneself for the welfare of another. (II Samuel 11 David covets and kills) (Psalm 10 The ways of the wicked)  (John 15:12-14 No greater love)

Christopher Nolan
  1. The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume XII, p. 506, Abingdon Press, Nashville 1998

About revkennydickson

I am a United Methodist minister and my professional passion is connecting issues of life and faith to film and other artforms. I am also interested in autism awareness and ministry and special needs. I am married to Michelle and have two children.
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