Sunday, May 03, 2009


"Not all who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkein

On the back of an elderly couple's pick-up truck in X-Men Origins: Wolverine reads a simple bumper sticker: "Not all who wander are lost." As we read this phrase, on screen we see a wandering Jimmy Logan (Hugh Jackman), dazed and confused and angry, dashing naked into this couple's barn and escaping those who destroyed his life.

Throughout this action-packed movie, Logan is a wanderer. He wanders through 150 years of history, having been born in the 1830s with the ability to age extremely slowly because of his extraordinary healing powers. Over those decades, Logan wanders through the life of a warrior, fighting in the American Civil War, two World Wars, and Vietnam.

But all who wander are not lost. After the Vietnam conflict, Logan and his brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) are conscripted to an elite fighting team filled with people with special powers.

Seeing the brutal descruction his gifts have caused humanity, Logan finds a new purpose for his life. He rejects the violence, to live a life of peace with a beautiful woman named Kayla (Lynn Collins) in the Canadian Rockies, far away from the conflict and agression of the world.

Sadly, William Stryker (Danny Huston), the head of the elite fighting team, manages to find him again and engineers Kayla's death, causing Logan to wander again - this time, back into his fold. With revenge in his heart, Logan agrees to a special project that will turn him into a super-soldier as indestructable adamantium metal is painfully fused to his bones and Logan becomes "Wolverine."

That's where Logan meets this elderly couple, who despite all evidence to the contrary, take him in and compassionately tend to his wounded heart. Seeing their kindness, Logan again finds his purpose - and the one who has wandered for so long is no longer lost.

Stryker wanted to turn Logan into an animal, as he had done with his brother Victor who has become the killing machine "Sabertooth." Stryker believes that, at our core, we are just carnal animals. He believes our history is littered with wars because we are just descructive creatures bent on killing one another.

But Logan is no animal. He is a good man with a kind heart, and even though he has the ability to kill at will and survive any attack, he prefers a peaceful life. This is how he becomes the Wolverine we know and love in the original X-Men movies.

Likewise, we are not animals. Humans have evolved above the rest of creation because we have the capacity to love, serve, and honor one another. We are not meant for war, but rather for peace. Jesus came into our world to remind us and show us that way, and to model for us loving self-sacrifice instead of violence and hatred.

Like Logan, we are all equipped with great gifts - each of them unique to who we are. We can use them for selfishness, destruction, and greed, just as Stryker might predict for us. Or we can use our gifts to better the world, just as Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) might teach us to do. Our gifts can cut people down like Wolverine's claws, but they can also lift them up.

Kayla reminds Logan, "You are no animal." And Jesus reminds us the same thing. He believes we are capable of so much more.

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