Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 112:1-3)
I have big calves; not baby cows, but you know: the lower back portion of the legs. I think the technical term is Gastrocnemius. Men point that out to me often and they ask how I got them. Did I work on them in the weight room kinda questions. Well, the answer is they came to me from my dad. He has huge defined calves and my brother’s are pretty big too. Sure I worked out in the weight room and it doesn’t hurt that the sports I play, tennis and hockey, rely on leg muscles a great deal, but mostly I inherited them.
I inherited a great many things from my dad, and my mom for that matter; my calves are one of the coolest, especially around summer time when the shorts come out of the closet. But I don’t think that is limited to just physical traits. I think I have a proclivity towards character traits passed down from my parents as well. What does this have to do with National Treasure: Book of Secrets? What MovedMe while watching the movie, on my birthday no less, is that Ben Gates inherited a great deal of who he is from the generations of Gates (and their wives) before him.
Both this movie and the first one, National Treasure, are the story of Benjamin Gates, played by Nicolas Cage. He has a very good understanding of who his forefathers were. The stories and artifacts were passed down from father to son throughout the ages. All of the knowledge and artifacts led to the discovery of a huge amount of treasure in the first one. In the second one, Ben and his crew must find another mythically huge treasure, but this time to clear the name of a Gates ancestor who is accused of being one of the conspirators that murdered Abraham Lincoln.
This movie goes deeper into the generational traits passed down from father to son, from one Gates generation to another. The first trait that hit me was Ben’s inability to work with his love interest Abigail Chase. When we left them in the first movie, I had assumed they had gotten married because they were living in a huge house together. Next thing we find out they were just living together and now are separated. We find out later it is the pure Gates faith that Gates men know what is going to happen that drove Abigail away. She comments in England that he doesn’t need her, he doesn’t ever ask her questions, it seems like he orders her around.
We know this is a trait passed down from father to son because Ben’s father, Patrick (played by Jon Voight), had the same problem with Ben’s mother Emily (played by Helen Mirren). She, just like Abigail, is a very capable treasure hunter but Patrick always went on his adventures alone. Emily at first thought it was really cool, but then felt abandoned and left to raise their son rather than be a part of the adventures that Patrick had. Fast forward some 30-odd years and Ben and Abigail are having the same kinds of problems.
There are some other traits that also come along with being a Gates, like the courage to go as far as even treason for a great cause. Ben breaks the law in both movies; in Book of Secrets he kidnaps the President of the United States. He doesn’t do this with criminal intent, but to clear his forefather’s name.
Another trait I noticed was the ability to hang on to lofty goals. As those around him become more and more cynical, Ben continues to believe in lofty ideals like truth, justice, and the American way. In both movies, a character says a line like, “Nobody talks like that any more, Ben.” And Ben always replies with something like, “I do!” Right before these lines Ben went on a tirade about being honorable or believing in something bigger than himself. I like that about Ben… it seems naive, but really it’s the absence of hardening of heart (or, like I said before, cynicism).
On a personal note I’d love to see Ben and Abigail get married and have another son (Abraham Lincoln Gates?) to pass on the Gates name and personal traits.
We all have things that we have inherited from the generations before us. Ben has the things listed above that are personality traits and I have my defined calves which are physical traits. Some of the things we inherit can be gifts, some of them are burdens, a lot of them are a weird combination of both.
The biggest inheritance we have, though, has been passed down to us from Adam and Eve, which is sin. These ancient grandparents of ours decided living in intimacy with creator God in paradise wasn’t enough so they went against God’s simple commandment and we’ve been doing the same thing ever since. But God gave us our own “Book of Secrets” called the Bible. In it, he describes the fact that from eternity past he has given us a way back to himself, his son Jesus Christ.
Check out the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets and realize that we didn’t just get personality and physical traits from our parents and their parents and so on; we also received a sin nature that keeps us far from God. I hope that drives you to the Bible where you will see that our Heavenly Father wants to pass on to us a new heart, new nature. Finally, I hope you put your faith in Jesus: the way, the truth, and the life.