The Fifth of November

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Cultural literacy is the knowledge we have about culture which helps us to understand information.  If I said to you that a bush was burning in Texas, many of you would associate Texas and Bush with the presidency of America.  A knowledge of the culture can help us understand words beyond their literal meaning.  V for Vendetta is a movie where the hero takes on the persona of Guy Fawkes.  The British remember his Catholic plot to kill the Protestant King James I on November 5th, the day he was discovered under the Houses of Parliament protecting a suspicious pile of wood which covered a pile of gunpowder kegs.  He and his conspirators were hanged, drawn and quartered after days of torture.  The way that he was treated is seen by some as parallel to the terrorists detained by the Americans who are subjected to near drowning and other methods that some call torture.  V for Vendetta recasts Guy Fawkes as the hero and not the villain.  Government is evil and should fear the people.  The movie seems to advocate an anarchy and overthrow of institutions.  The movie also includes religion as a tool of the state.

How does an understanding of Guy Fawkes help us to understand the movie V for Vendetta?  Should a Christian watch V for Vendetta?  How should Christians react to a movie which advocates resisting a government accused of torture, unjustified war, and tesing drugs on its own people?  If such a government existed should we take up arms against it or should we accept the authorites that God has placed over us? 

Image:Guy Fawkes portrait.jpg

“Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), English conspirator, born in York. A Protestant by birth, he became a Roman Catholic after the marriage of his widowed mother to a man of Catholic background and sympathies. In 1593 he enlisted in the Spanish army in Flanders and in 1596 participated in the capture of the city of Calais by the Spanish in their war with Henry IV of France. He became implicated with Thomas Winter and others in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament as a protest against the anti-Roman Catholic laws. On the night of November 4-5, 1605, he was caught in a cellar underneath the House of Lords and arrested. After severe torture he disclosed the names of his accomplices, and with them he was hanged. Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5 in the United Kingdom and some other parts of the British Commonwealth with bonfires and fireworks.” (Encarta)


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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7 Responses to The Fifth of November

  1. rookie1987 says:

    This is a movie that is able to bring about a lot of discussion. I see no reason for a Christian to not be allowed to see this as long as they are not immature (in age faith, mentality). I enjoyed the movie and the self spoken introduction of V is great to listen to. You again ask a question dealing with war. Now something here is that the American government is accused of torture, and unjustified war. I also have heard of accusations of drug testing on military people in our governments past so someone could tie this into how we should react to the American government if they wanted to take this to an extreme. So your question asks in a sense a dangerous question because it in essence asks to take up arms against our government or accept the authority placed over us. I don’t believe this to be your intention. I think you are more just trying to make people think about stuff and not just take this movie as well that was a good 2 hours of watching images and hearing sounds. Without putting any thought to it kind of a waste of time and brain power. Thanks for the background and remember the only difference between a hero and a villian most times depends only on the point of view of the person.
    Salt and Light

  2. I have asked myself those very questions many a time, considering North Korea and the atrocities done there (not to mention other countries I’m sure).  I believe D. Bonhoeffer asked many of the same questions.What about rebellion against countries that are not your own?  I really enjoyed the depth of the movie, especially the scene when the main female character realizes that she is free and unafraid…so much to discuss there.  I even went out and bought a copy.  My roommate and I got to talking about all the history of it and it’s definitely some interesting stuff.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie so I’m just going on what you’ve written. I agree with what’s been said, that hero/villain is dependant on the point of view, which could be intentionally skewed to influence your opinion. And I think that Christians can definitely use the movie to bring up many points of discussion and can have a healthy dialogue with each other and unbelievers. As far as submitting to authority, my personal opinion is that God’s decrees and laws trump those of any earthly ruler. We should be fauthful to those placed in authority above us unless it comes to a point where those laws are contradicting God’s Word, in which case I don’t think it would be entirely wrong to take a stand.
    On a somewhat related note, I was wondering what you have heard or read about the movie The Golden Compass and the book trilogy that inspired it. I’ve been hearing a lot of negative things about it and just read a friend’s post saying that we should all boycott it, but I personally don’t think that’s the best response…thoughts?

  4. rookie1987 says:

    I think it should not be boycotted. I have not read the books or seen the movie but from what I hear all the beings with super power on earth team up good and evil against the creator of them and defeat the creator. The creator is some god which is basically a guy in a box. Many people just hear of all of the things which people in Christianity dislike (evil creatures) and that they all defeat god and think that this looks bad for God. Hence the boycott. I think this is the same sort of thing as with the De Vinci code. We don’t boycott it and we don’t go rushing to see it to refute it. Treat it for what it is. It is just like any other movie that was made for entertainment and making money. When we react to it that is when it becomes something more.
    Salt and Light

  5. Anonymous says:

    I actually just watched this movie for the first time last night. My initial reaction was utter disgust and a hatred for the government shown in this film. I was moved to question my own government, which is not all together wrong. We are called to “test every Spirit” that would include the spirit of those who are “placed in authority above us”. If we should not blindly accept faith, why should we then, blindly accept the words or actions of the people who have “authority”. I agree with the statement “A people should not fear their government, the government should fear their people.” And I feel that so often people who are placed in authority forget that they GOT to that position through of the votes and thoughts of so many OTHER people.Speaking of fear- that is a deep topic that so many Christians simply allow to control their lives. The fear of failure, the fear of dissatisfaction from others, the fear of pain, the fear of death, the fear of losing control, the fear of anything happening that they cannot control. While the Bible tells us in Luke 12:4&5 “…do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Repeatedly throughout scripture, we are told to fear God not man. Fear the Lord your God. Yet everyday we live with the fear of man and what “they” can do to us. In the movie “V”, seemed to have no fear. Of anything or anyone. His story tells us that he survived the worst of the worse. It gave the impression that he had nothing left to fear. But in reality, he had allowed his fears to overtake him into a place full of hatred and revenge for what had happened to him. He allowed his fear to feed his anger, strengthen his discipline, and “refine” his intelligence. But in the end, it was the fear that killed him. It was the fear that fooled him, ruled him, and eventually destroyed him.I feel that this movie opens up a “can of worms” that is largely not talked about. It approaches a topic that is taboo. A “idea” that is considered foolish. And a truth that is ignored. From both sides of the issue. Where do we draw the line of letting fear control us, verses controlling our fears? When do we stop accepting what the government feeds us verses what the truth is? When do we start to question EVERY spirit that we encounter- from a spirit of trust to a spirit of fear? How do we allow the Spirit of God to rule our lives instead of the spirit of self? Where do we stop, and were do we let Him begin?All in all, I really liked the movie, and intend to watch it again.

  6.  This is kind of funny, i just got done watching this at my friends.
    Is it possible to know someone, something, a cituation without knowing the background of it? no, if we looked at a person and judged them this would be wrong..if we looked at how they acted an judged thm this would also be wrong..people are what they are because of there past. . .what have they been through..and these people change history. . .so how can we truly know history without knowing the WHOLE thing. . .we can’t.
      We have to sit with an open mind, Christians tend to box themselves in and stray from the “outside” world, but it is good to know what is going on.
    God has placed me in a free country, where i have freedom to speak up, and stand up. It is ok..maybe even good to disagree with the government (showing you have your won opinion), but the government is for the people, and if the people say nothing and live in fear of their goverment, this is screwed up. If anything by standing up as they did in V for Vendetta they are standing together and it brings hope, it brings a sence of community together. God does say to obey the authority He has placed over you, but He also told us to test all things, and even by not doing something but still staying silent i feel i would be dishonest to myself and to the governemnt by not saying anything because not speaking up is no different than doing “torture” or whatev myself. . . .hope that makes sence its 2:36 in the mornign so my thoughts are not all there. 

  7. alexgoreham says:

    V for Vendetta was an interesting movie. I did not know what to think about it at first. As i though about it, i thought about all the “crazy” people who try to make a point by doing act of violence. There are always people who go beyond the norm of expressing their opinions. Peaceful protest is normal. Tying to blow up a government is not. I guess this does depend a lot on the cultural context of where a person is from, but in the States, this is not the norm. The whole persona of the government being bad is very common in movies these days. For example, the Bourne Series. The government is bad. They are the evil guys. And because the government is bad, Jason Bourne is justified in killing it’s employees. The TV series 24, a great show, has some similar aspects to it. The government is not completely truthful with the American people and it is not always looking out for Americans, so Jack is justified in disobeying the laws and orders because he really is looking out for the best interest of the American people. Alex Goreham

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