Argo is a true story about the journey home


The name of the fictional movie may not have been much of a factor, but the Argo was the ship in Greek mythology that carried Jason on his journey to find the Golden Fleece. Tony Mendez’ story follows this pattern. In the epic hero’s journey the hero is minding his own mundane business when he is called to adventure. He resists the call but finds himself in circumstances that force him to cross the threshold into the unknown and take on a quest. Very often in these myths the quest is determined by forces with more power than the hero. While the hero’s quest seems impossible there is no choice but to meet each challenge and defeat them with strength, wits, and sometimes supernatural help. At some point the hero experiences some sort of real or figuarative death and resurrection involving an internal conflict that could prevent achieving the quest. The hero returns from the journey victorious having achieved his quest and overcome his internal conflict. He returns to a reward that often includes love, celebration, and status. Sometimes when the hero gets home he is faced with more challenges before he receives his full reward. Politics and intrigue aside, the focus of Argo, the real movie, is about getting people home. Tony’s quest to bring others home took him on a journey that brought him home again as well. Argo inspired me to consider my own hero’s journey.

Heroism in real life is carried out by ordinary people under extrordinary circumstances. In real life heroes wear glasses and cry and argue like the hostages, who had to accept a journey they would never have orchestrated for themselves. In real life the journey can seem sort of ridiculous and be carried out with unlikely helpers like Siegal and Chambers rather than wise wizards and magic swords. In real life fear of looking foolish, as Hamilton Jordan demonstrates, can drive life and death decisions. In real life the consequences for losing face actually can cost lives. In real life the hero isn’t always rewarded with public adulation, or the full reward may be delayed for years.

Argo was all about fulfilling the quest and getting home. Some of the players were laughable. The method was unorthodox. The companions unequipped. Part of the journey is accepting what you have to work with and meeting those challenges. It would be lovely to be able to write in better helpers or challenges that match our giftings. It doesn’t always work that way. Like the hostages, we read from the script that’s there. Like Mendez we work with the people before us. Just as in so many epic stories, the journey and the quest is set by more powerful forces than ourselves, and is nothing we would have chosen to initiate ourselves.

If we start looking at our lives as true stories we may begin to see this pattern emerging. Perhaps this is because Jesus’ story is the ultimate Hero’s journey and as we follow Him we will take that journey as well. We will leave what is comfortable and familiar. We will make sacrifices, overcome fears, and die to self. Perhaps this is what it means to be crucified and resurrected with Christ. When we go on a transforming journey with Him, when we agree to the quests He sets for us, we return from the journey different from how we started out. Some journeys happen over a matter of days or weeks or months. Some journeys take a lifetime. All of them are meant to lead us home.

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