The Espionage Experiment

What can Christians learn from murder mystery, crime, and spy/espionage novels?  I first discovered my (until-then unknown) love for espionage novels when I read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last year.  The book is about much more than a tough girl that knows cool hacking tricks and is physically gifted.  It is about a girl who meshes her life with the life of a man who both employ resources and passion from difficult and troubled pasts to search out and confront manipulative and destructive power structures.  I went to see the movie.  Harsh.  Powerful.  Good.

I am also a long time fan of the Bourne series; both the books and the movies.  The books are a fabulous trilogy:  The Bourne Identity, the Bourne Supremecy, and the Bourne Ultimatum all by the elite espionage literary Robert Ludlum.  I just read the Bourne Legacy which is the first in a series of several books that were carried forward from Ludlum’s Bourne Trilogy by Eric Van Lustbader.  The book is quite distinct from the Ludlum books but carries the plot forward quite well.

I have a certain penchant for loving Espionage films, books and magazine articles.  “International intrigue” whether it be banking exploits, para-military exploits, or a micro-genre of murder mystery or organized crime stories… whatever it is, I tend to love it.

I have often wondered what that says about me, and I have often wondered about the “separateness” of the Gospel Story over against some of these stories of “International Intrigue and Espionage.”  Sometimes I worry about the connection (or dis-connection), but more often I am intrigued (as I usually am) by the possible lessons that such stories teach us.  I haven’t given it a lot of serious thought however.

That is, until I read that Stanley Hauerwas (the respected and sometimes feared Duke Theologian, and noted pacifist) encourages Christians to read “murder mystery.”

I purposefully refrained from hearing any of Hauerwas’ arguments about why he wants us to do this.  Instead, I have decided to compile a list of famous espionage, international intrigue, spy, murder mystery, etc., books and let any themes (whether theological, ethical, moral, etc.) emerge on their own.

I am interested in hearing any suggestions about what books you think I should read.  Here is my list so far:

The Bourne Identity  by Robert Ludlum 

The Bourne Supremecy  by Robert Ludlum 

The Bourne Ultimatum  by Robert Ludlum 

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by Jean Le Carre 

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo  by Stieg Larsson

The Girl who Played with Fire  by Stieg Larsson

The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson 

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by Jean Le Carre

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth 

The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth

The Quiet American by Graham Greene 

The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett 

I will periodically post updates (and perhaps, in some way, reviews) as I read through these.  I tend to read leisure books slower, ironically enough, than educational reading.  So this will be a long long process for me.

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