One of my favorite movies is The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. It’s an interesting movie for several reasons. While I recognize that it is not an accurate portrayal of Japanese culture, it does have elements that point to key ideas that are true to the underlying philosophy of the samurai mindset. I base this assessment on reviews that I have seen and read since the movie came out.
But for the purpose of this post, I want to focus on a characteristic that was demonstrated by the other main character of the movie. The character Katsumoto is supposed to embody the ideal of the samurai’s spirit. There is a tranquility about his character that surprises Capt. Algren. So much so that Katsumoto’s demeanor and conduct begin to sway the captain’s outlook on life.
In the movie, the idea that is being played out on the screen is that of Bushido. This philosophical framework is beyond the scope of this post, but a shorthand for why it was practiced by the samurai is the idea of living a life governed by honor.
Sometimes it is helpful to see in other circumstances or events ideas that we are trying to make sense of in our own life. Because of the stark cultural and historical differences portrayed in the film, the idea of honor seems more poignant. And while this is a fictional and overly dramatized story the idea is still easy to grasp.
In a way, honor can be defined as the guiding principle by which the samurai conducted every aspect of their lives. And the lengths to which they went to achieve this ideal were through a complete dedication to those principles that advanced the discipline required to achieve them. We see this in a montage as Capt. Algren is familiarizing himself with the hamlet in which he is held captive. With nowhere to go he begins to see beyond the exterior, and physical expressions of the surroundings, to the motivations of the people themselves.
When we are able to accept the fullness of God’s grace, we honor the sacrifice of Christ by living a life consistent with the Father’s character.Tweet
What is the connection we can draw between the example of Katsumoto in the movie and our journey towards Lent? For me, it is that living a life of obedience to the principles and truths of Scripture affords us the ability to become what God envisioned in the creation of humanity.
And so, while honor can be seen most often as an internal conviction that guides how we live, it can also be a choice we make as a way of acknowledging the worth or value of something outside of us. When we are able to accept the fullness of God’s grace, we honor the sacrifice of Christ by living a life consistent with the Father’s character.
And so in this instance, I think it makes sense to see and to talk of honor with this two-pronged understanding.
May we learn to live with honor as we strive to honor our Savior.