Friday, August 03, 2007

Code Breakers

In the 2005 Movie “Code Breakers” the noted code is stated as: At West Point, Honor Is A Code That Must Never Be Broken.

Coach Red Blaik is the head coach for the Army team, which stands undefeated. The pressure is high to maintain this 27 win streak. The coaches press hard. The players feel the pressure. Grades in classes must remain as high as the performance on the field. But some of the players find this to be impossible. They seek help. Some of the players form a group, where students take the exams, later recording the questions to pass on to their hurting teammates. This is cheating and breaks the code that all cadets swear to uphold. Even a member of the honor committee is part of the code breakers’ group.

They get caught. They pay the price: disgrace and resignation from the academy.

When asked what to do, Coach Blaik tells his players to tell the truth, but he also tries to get them excused. He fails.

In the concluding scenes, Blaik’s son, Bob, one of the football players that passed information on to his teammates, after resigning, prepares to leave home. He packs and goes downstairs where his mother pleads with him. Then he bids goodbye to his father.

Mrs. Blaik: You were dismissed from the academy, not from your own home.
Bob: Mom, I love this house, but it’s right in the thick of it.
Mrs. Blaik: Do you have a couple of minutes? I’ll make you something for the bus.
Bob: Sure.

Bob turns and goes to his father’s home office where Coach Blaik is working on football plays, (knowing that his son is preparing to leave home).

Bob: Goodbye Father.
Coach Blaik: And that’s it.?
Bob: What can I say?
Coach Blaik: Well, you could apologize for that display outside the barracks.
Bob: I said exactly what I wanted to.
Coach Blaik: You read what I told the Press downtown? Or were you too busy feeling sorry for yourself?
Bob: I read it. It’s full of excuses for all of us. There are no excuses.
Coach Blaik: I tried to set the record straight on your behalf.
Bob: Dad, you were trying to win. You’re always trying to win. The Honor Code isn’t about winning. It’s about the truth.

Coach stands in humbled silence while Bob extends his hand as a final gesture of parting. Father embraces his son with gentle sobs.

Bob’s final words strike me strongly. How often in the churches both the people and the leaders forget that the honor code is not about winning. It is about the truth. Bob realizes that he cannot remain at home because the house that he loves is “right in the thick of it.” He leaves to start over while his father goes on to rebuild and regroup so as to win again.

To Bob, the life of honor was more than good words and more than admitting the truth. To Bob, the truth was life. He chose the way of the truth even above his family and home. When he realized how badly he had betrayed the truth, he did more than admit his failure: he did a 180 degree turn and followed the truth. Actually, perhaps more accurately stated, having been turned 180 degrees so as to be facing the truth again, he did not turn back to those things that were “right in the thick” of battling for the victory rather than following the truth as the victory.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57)

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1 comment:

Scott Scofield said...


Wonderfully written! Although I haven't seen the movie you use to frame the message, the theme is universal - a pursuit of some temporal gain in which the truth is sacrificed versus a commitment to the Truth regardless of temporal outcome - and the consequences that derive from both.

While not parallel to the circumstances of the movie - I thought of the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. The son forsakes the Truth (love) for pursuit of temporal gain and adventure. In a sense, the father facilitates his wanderlust by prematurely dividing the property. The son, subsequently fails and returns starving - declaring that he is unworthy to be a son. The father, of course, treats him as a child of God.

I suppose I need to watch the movie before I comment on it too deeply - but I am struck by the son physically leaving his family and home - "the thick of it," as it were. It seems that the father in Luke bore some complicity for his son's behavior, in that relenting to his son's desire for the property of his father's estate - prior to his father's death (as would be traditional), contributed to the son's misadventure. Yet the father in Luke gives us no clue that he is subsequently shamed, makes excuses, etc - he, conversly, displays Christ-like love.

While the father in the movie doesn't seem to have that type of relationship with the truth - such that he obviously feels enough shame to try to set the record straight in the press - the son seems to have experienced a deep spiritual insight. Deep enough perhaps, that leaving should become unnecessary - that a living example of the Truth "in the thick of it," would seem to be a Christ-like move.

I may be off point in some of this analysis - but it still seems to me that an application of the Prodigal Son parable to the events of the movie, framing the message of the Truth as superior to the circumstance - would be a worthwhile endeavor.

In peace,