The brave new world of the twenty-first century wrestles on an ever-evolving basis with technology that puts information at our fingertips, tries to outsmart our enemies and our friends, and develops new frontiers. It tries to place the new and progressive on the front lines while disposing of anything redundant or without purpose. This is precisely the focal point of the twenty-third installment of the James Bond franchise, Skyfall.
Bond returns as a vestige of the old ways, that which is tried and true but vulnerable in a weaker, older body, fighting against an individual enemy who lurks in the shadows of technology. Silva, former MI6 agent gone rogue, harnesses technology to eliminate anything deemed redundant or without purpose. He glories in his own life of “pick your own mission,” a life of selfish terrorist actions. In MI6 itself, a new character, “Q,” represents the new generation, all about tech and gadgets. He tells Bond, “I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.” At the same time, M, director of MI6, faces an inquiry regarding her antiquated actions costing lives and money but unapologetically clings to what she feels and knows is right.
Our daily fast-paced culture is not far behind this scenario. Too quickly we are prepared to dispose of old ways and accept whatever is new be it technology, relationships, lifestyles, or religion. “Our enemies are not nations or flags” as M put it, “they are individuals in the shadows.” We fight against one another and those who used to be and ought to be on our side. There is no more room to dialogue. Distraction and noise drown out the silence required to actually deal with our problems. It is time to go back to Skyfall, Bond’s childhood home, our own roots, “to go back in time where we’ll have the advantage.”
“Sometimes the old ways are best,” says the gamekeeper at Skyfall, the ways that change the rules on our common enemy to get him on an impossible field where he has forgotten how to play. For the Church this means, daily prayer, an orientation of mind and heart to God, and true healing, a painful but renewing process. The journey toward healing a broken world requires all of us to abandon our desires, wants, and ideas for a greater God beyond our understanding. Numbers, strength, and even “good feelings” do not matter but faithfulness does. M proclaims she “did at least one thing right,” which was to put Bond, the symbol of the tried and true, back in the field. M quotes from Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses”:
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.