Saturday, 9 June 2012

Theological Reflections on 'Inception'

Recently, we watched 'Inception', starring Leonardo DiCaprio, during our Church youth night. It took all of us by surprise, as we wondered about how this much loved secular film that confuses many, could have any relevance to Christianity. We were proved wrong.

Note: I will not be re-telling the story, as I do not wish to spoil it for those who may not have watched the movie yet. However, I might have to expose some vital parts of the movie to explain my points!

'Inception' is full of important, controversial themes that have been woven together intricately and beautifully to produce such a fast paced, thought provoking, engaging film. The themes and issues raised throughout, are important as they reflect our minds and our deepest, inner desires; there is much we all can learn and be wary of. In this post, I will be focusing on two of my favorite themes from the movie. If you haven't already watched it, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

No Regrets

This is, by far the most prominent and salient theme in 'Inception'. 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' by Charles Dumont is played extensively, on many occasions throughout the film, especially just before the characters wake up from their dreams. Why? The title of the song translates into: 'No, I Have No Regrets' - this reflects their desire to live a life without regrets, something that the protagonist, Cob, earnestly longed for - something, I am sure all of us can relate to, ourselves! 
All of us are alive once, with trends like '#YOLO' (You Only Live Once) on Twitter, it is clear that the world pressurizes us to make the most of life. However, it stumbles terribly on what '...make the most of...' truly means! Making the most of life has very little to do with settling for temporary pleasures found in numerous relationships, sex, drugs or alcohol, instead it refers to living a life where we are truly joyous, truly happy and at peace naturally, not as a result of a stimulus, that leaves us feeling worse once it wears off. Moreover, these 'temporary pleasures' are not the answer, instead of escaping regrets, they bind us to more! 

To live a life without regrets, we need God. We need His grace, forgiveness and ransom. In Isaiah 43:25, God says regarding Israel: "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more." - Now that is a prodigious promise! Inevitably, we all have 'fallen short of God's glory' and are rooted firmly in sin, which with itself, has bound us to barrels of regret and guilt. Only God's grace and His blood shed, in the person of Jesus, on the Cross, can manumit us. 
We live once, make the most of this life to live a life free of guilt and shame. Instead of relying on deceiving worldly pleasures that offer very little for what they promise, seek God and His help to wipe the slate clean, to gain forgiveness and fill your heart with the joy, peace and guidance, it yearns for. Ensure that your life has a meaning and purpose, and that you don't live it selfishly but strive to love and leave a lasting, worthwhile legacy, in the lives of those around you.


Ever so often, we can be trapped by our ambitions, dreams, hopes and assumptions. We might end up believing a lie, being deceived and living in a dazed state and struggle to distinguish reality from delusion - just like Cob and the other characters in 'Inception'. For example, a person suffering from anorexia - he or she isn't able to see their real state as they're mentally accustomed to the lie they hold dear, likewise, someone who might be suffering from depression - a bit like Mal(Cob's wife), she believed the lie Cob had himself planted in her, that eventually led to her tragic peril.
Every character involved in the dreams, has their own 'Totem' - an object used to test if a person is in their own or someone else's dream. In a person's own dream, the totem will work and feel correct as they know it well.

We all need a point of focus, a totem, one that is steady and reliable at all times. The only steady point of focus, is God! He is the same, 'yesterday, today and forevermore', He 'doesn't lie', He can be trusted at all costs. When our point of focus is on God and we are driven by the desire to please and love Him, we can never go wrong. Our totem, needs to be God, we need to know our Totem well, to be able to get back to reality, establish our identity in Him and proceed, with peace, joy and satisfaction - something these characters were miserably deprived of. Unlike the characters' inanimate totems, if our totem is God, EVERY TIME we focus on Him, He will straighten our paths and relinquish clarity.

In conclusion, there are a lot of interesting themes in the film, however, I would call those 'sub-themes' as each one can be categorized into one of the two mentioned above. The above themes are absolute and universal, they are not only relatable but also teachable. 'Inception' might have been targeted at the secular world, however the themes dealt in it are far from secular; they reiterate the importance of a God centered life, free of sin and full of forgiveness and redemption through His grace alone. Like Cob and the other characters, we are flawed, inside out, searching restlessly for something that satisfies us; God still sees something in us that He can transform, He is the one we ought to turn to, to put that search to rest. 

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