Discussing
The odd god of ‘The Adjustment Bureau’

Josh Larsen

Paulvanderklay
March 11, 2011

I thought it was a fun movie, if as you said confused. They nicely raised some interesting ideas and some notions, coincidence as the engine of destiny, flexibility within determinism, can a distributed system (angels with hats) not stumble bureaucratically, etc. which could make for some fun conversations. I think what undid the movie were some of our own cultural presuppositions that the movie creators were unwilling to defy and risk the wrath of its cultural audience. Romantic love conquers all would be one. How would the one knowing human react to the choice of self-giving vs. possessing? I also thought that just when they came to the point of really pushing on the inherent tensions in the issues they would punt and take the consistent cultural turn out of the dilemma. It was still worth a couple of hours and I'll certainly see it again on DVD.

Brooklyn Cravens
March 13, 2011

What's cool is this movie raises some interesting thoughts about different schools of thought and the finiteness of the human mind. Sadly, in a society where the majority do not read and independently think for themselves, no doubt the postmodern culture we live in will view "the chairman" as a bitter motif for God that shows he is not favorable to the 'modern mind'. How sad this plays out.<br><br>Another movie that portrays God in a fallen, human way is Watchmen with Dr. Manhattan. He was a character who played out a God with the mind of a human. However, this movie simply and indirectly revealed that the human mind is too small to grasp God.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
March 15, 2011

Nice call on Watchmen. Dr. Manhattan is a fascinating and unique god figure. I also wrote about Watchmen for TC when the movie first came out: <a href="http://bit.ly/eXLmFy" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/eXLmFy</a>

James Neal
March 29, 2011

i actually believe that the chairman has a plan that is greater than the ones that the adjustment bureau recieves in there books...i mean what "chairman" is ever unaware of these things

Middlemoor
March 30, 2011

I think it was a good movie showing what would happen if God really limited free-will. He doesn't...and when he does in this story, it leads to a robotic existence. When "The Chairman" takes it away from the humans in this story, he does so for their own protection. Our own God doesn't do that, but imagine if he did. Would we ACTUALLY be better off? Or would it be better to allow for freewill and for real love to occur? This movie shows that free-will triumphs over "the plan", which I believe God has but isn't predestination in the sense that he dictates our actions. Free-will triumphs ultimately...and "love" prevails. Not only that, but it's shown that God works in mysterious ways. Not even the angels understand the plan...and ultimately it's all a test. Which is what life comes down to. A training ground for the eternity. And although in this story The Chairman has limited free will, it's shown that even his own plan changes when man tries to do what's right instead of trying to follow glory. We see that The Chairman wanted them to realise all along...that loving one another was more important than any plan or threat of consequence. Holes in the story and this theory for sure...and you can't apply the movie to the Bible...but that's how I saw it as a Christian.

Steve
March 30, 2011

I am a christian and also a huge sci-fi fan. I really loved the fact that God was a central part of a sci-fi story, The Adjustment Bureau. I suspend disbelief in such movies and judge the story by believability within the reality created within. I thought the movie largely won there, but the biggest weakness was the utter lack of prayer and direct contact with God. I think when they were running through corridors of heaven to find The Chairman's office, I was a little confused why all of that would be necessary since The Chairman sees all and knows all.

Sokpuppy
April 29, 2011

I think that its quite silly and extremely ignorant for anyone on this site to automatically assume that this movie was speaking of the Christian God.<br>Just. Plain. Ignorant.

Sokpuppy
April 29, 2011

And that its also quite sad that no one will read my post except for the moderator of the site....or should I say "The Chairman".

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
April 29, 2011

Hi from "The Chairman!" Actually, my job title is editor of ThinkChristian, but I like your parallel Sokuppy.<br><br>I don't think anyone here is claiming that "The Adjustment Bureau" means to present a distinct vision of "the Christian God," as you put it. I'm wondering: Do you feel that people can bring their own interpretations to movies, or should audiences be bound to the filmmakers' vision (whatever that vision might be)? In this case, do you think it's wrong for Christians to use the themes of "The Adjustment Bureau" - things such as free will, divine direction - to try and understand the nature of our God?<br><br>And in the spirit of interpretation, I'm curious to hear how you read "The Adjustment Bureau." What did you take out of it?

Epicurus
May 19, 2011

You didn't get it, did you? God didn't "throw it all away" for the power of love, he was waiting for when Humans had the capability to risk everything for the original creation - Adam and Eve, in its purest form.<br><br>The brain teaser of the Adjustment Bureau is, did God know that this was going to happen? And if so, why did he put them through all of this, instead of just breaking off "the Plan(s)" as soon as the couple met?<br><br>However, the truest questioning stands;<br>Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able, and willing? Then where did evil originate? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?<br>

Greg
May 26, 2011

I believe the chairman is the Christian God.  It's not that He cannot stop Mat Damon's character, it's that he wants him to succeed.  The agents are angels, and the 'conflicted one' mentions the test (trying to make a point without giving away the movie).  It's like the system is set up to provide only the illusion of free will, but provides the opportunity (with difficulty) for true free will.  Those that achieve it are made into leaders to guide humanity to the eventual goal of autonomy.  Thus David is tapped for leadership, they want him to be a leader because of his honesty (read Christianity).  He can only have both things he wants if he can achieve and handle true free will, if he fails he can only have one.  Great movie.

Cult Spyder
July 10, 2011

It's a movie.....period

Albert Barnett
July 21, 2011

The greatest act of free will was in the garden, weather real or apocryphal.<br>That is at least 8 books by Phillip K. Dick that i can name that have been put on film now. He had a incredible gift in writing to dig down to the root of human existence and moral questions.<br>Blade Runner                    "Are we more than machines"<br>Total Recall                      "Is memory reality"<br>Minority Report                 "Is thinking it doing it"<br>The Adjustment Bureau     "Predestination"<br>Screamers                        "Run away technology"<br>Impostor                           "Are you your own Property"<br>Paycheck                         "Is your creation your own"<br>Next                                 "Quantum Reality and responsibility"<br><br>Which book is next?<br>

Bananamanjim
July 26, 2011

From watching the movie twice in quick succession, I believe the "chairman" is simply that unexplained energy which is all of us.  The bureau agents, like the chairman and all the other characters, no matter how small, are all part of the Oneness of all of us (whether you call that God or not doesn't really matter).  The dancer who drops Elise and sprains her ankle, the tax driver who drives quickly to get him to her, and even the person who knows where the dance studio is, are all part of the same one energy which is creating each and every alternative.  I don't think religion actually comes into it at all.<br>I also think the door concept is briliant as it actually suggests the real limitlessness that exists in us/the energy in creating whatever results we pursue.  The key thing that I took from the movie is that at the end of it, we are always creating the moment depending on what intention/desire is driving us.  Who knows, does he become president, does she become the greatest dancer?  Of course, provided that is what they wish to create!

Steven Koster
July 28, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau is a philisophical soup of a movie. <br><br>It affirms the Divine, who has a plan written in black &amp; white in the book, and who has angels to enforce his plan. People are broken and don't really have the freeest of wills, so they need a little rescuing. <br><br>But the real driver here is the Enlightenment meta-narrative, where humans are slowly being perfected into maturity, where good passions like True Love empitomize the best that people can be. God exists (though in many forms), but the goal is human self-determination. Even God's plan is tentative, based on the current level of self-realization. <br><br>God figures larger than usual here, but this is the story of Star Trek, Carl Sagan, and even to some extent the American Founding Fathers. It's very American. <br><br>God is out there and has given you the power to be happy. <br><br>What's missing is any real grace, or sacrifice, or atonement, or sin. We only need a little nudge, not a radical act on God's part.

inTruTh
July 29, 2011

Can I say as a christian, this movie struck me as the chairman is the god of the new world order.  They even tried to depict him as our God, by  saying "you've just looked behind a curtain, that you should have never known was there".  This movie has illuminati written all over it!! Their god is the enemy, hence he is not omnipotent, he requires the adjustment bueru (imps) to carry out his plan for the characters life. And as soon the male character get closer to what is "enough" (and I'm speaking about Elise), to have him turn away from the fame and position, the bureau tries to divert him back to their plan for him.  I felt like the male character was searching for what was right and can exist on it own (Love=Jesus=omni).  The imp named Harry (or fallen angel) was almost like... lets use Lauryn Hill for an example.  the was deep in the industry and controlled by them, but she wanted to get out and break away from the demonic principalities that were controlling her, and it showed.  Oh yeah.... the chairman was also limited by what he could hear/see or know by water... again, not omni. So ummmm Idk, how i ended up so far on the other side of the extreme with my view of this movie, but then again no one will prob read this....

Lipsahoy57
September 28, 2011

God is who he is, he has a hand in all we do and all we will do .There are many movies out in the world which try to disprove the christian God or the trinity and when you see one of these movies, if, and I do not say this lightly if you are a true christian being born again by the shed blood of Christ then you will know these movies to be false. Christ moves in and works in ways that will never be clear to us until the day of judgement and the books are opened ,then all will bow, kneel,wail ,cry out  and the truth shall be made clear. Don`t concern yourself with such petty observations about this film, rather be glad there are films like this one which gives all of us who have seen it to be challenged in our faith, to ask many questions and to knock at the doors of life ,God knows all are questions and has answers to them all ....... will we listen or shrug them off as being unworthy of our time.

The>,<Realist
December 18, 2011

I think the adjustment bureau agents is your(David Norris) conscience telling you what to do from the goals you set in life and  the influence by the people and things around you. As we all do , we come around something or a situation that is referred to as bad or wrong when we get the feeling that it actually feels right. So when David Norris decided to go on with what he thought was right the plan changed, cus he is the chairman all along. Showing that we as people have the free will to do what we want and not restricted to following the ideals that the medias and other influences say.

Duncan
January 1, 2012

I know I'm posting this many months after the discussion, (even though I just saw something in the last week or so I thought on Google Reader to tell me about the blog post).  I've not seen the movie but from the description, it sounds like a case of Open Theism to me.  <br><br>   I have trouble myself usually in seeing (alleged) theological themes in movies or even in books.  Does the Lord of the Rings mean something?  I wish that movies provided more "guidance" as to what the screenplay writer/book author had in mind.  I have long thought that the image of Neo in the Matrix (at least the third installlment) as a Christ figure is way over the top, and not likely to have been in anyone's mind when writing the screenplay or directing or acting in the film.

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