Sherlock: Capturing Thought
One of the things I admire most about BBC shows is that it’s rarely as “Shoot em up/Bang Bang” as American TV. Even when it’s violent, it’s less mindless violence. Often times it requires you to think more, and as a result feel more. Sherlock is such a prime example. I’m fully aware that the books are fantastic all on their own, but let’s be honest- Moffat and Cumberbatch have brought life to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters we haven’t seen in many many years. Good TV, like most good things in life, should cause us to think. Most of our entertainment and our day to day lives don’t really motivate us to deep thought. The Bible shows us that even when we are thinking it’s not always productive.
“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” ( Genesis 6:5)
Even if our own thinking was solid, we also see Satan, playing the role of our own mental Moriarity, has even set our own minds against us. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4). So we need to do all that we can to make sure we not only think but make sure we are thinking effectively.
Our favorite high-functioning sociopath has shown us that not only is thinking important, but thinking the right way. That’s the difference between Sherlock and everyone else he interacts with; he thinks on a different level. As he tells John, “Your mind, it's so placid, straight-forward, barely used. Mine's like an engine, racing out of control. A rocket, tearing itself to pieces, trapped on the launch pad.” While a large portion of this may be ego, it doesn’t defeat the truth of the notion that we don’t think to our full ability. I’m not saying we have to be able to have sharp cheekbones and solve crimes, but as believers we need to have our thinking become a little more “high- functioning.” Scripture teaches us that when God renews our mind, it doesn’t just improve our thinking, it changes us completely.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).
When we allow God to renew our mind, then we will be able to think about spiritual matters the way Sherlock looks at a mystery.
One of the reasons we don’t function at this level mentally is because we don’t make an effort to actually be proactive in what we think about. We entertain every thought that comes to mind. This causes us to be unable to focus and be what we are
called to be. Even Sherlock at his genius level recognizes that if we don’t make the effort to focus and be in control of our thoughts, then we won’t be able to accomplish what we want as he so gracefully displays,
“Shut up everybody, shut up! Don’t move, don’t speak, don’t breathe, I’m trying to think”. He eliminates all the distracting elements so that he can thrive in his “Mind Palace.” This is the route we have to take if we want to actually control our thoughts enough to control our actions.
We see in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “ We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” I love that phrase “take every thought captive.” When we don’t allow our thoughts to run away with us, we have a much better shot of controlling our hearts, actions, and emotions. When we let our mind run wild, we will often justify any action we know full well is wrong, become deceptive or manipulative to serve ourselves, or think on a temptation long enough that it just becomes our natural reaction. I’m not saying be closed minded, or not to think, but rather to recognize dangerous and deconstructive thoughts when they arise and squash them before they can ever present themselves as a hindrance. Like Sherlock so eloquently shows us about getting rid of unnecessary thought,
“Listen. This is my hard drive and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Really useful. Ordinary
people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish. And that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?”
So the next time an impure thought, selfish ambition, or un edifying attitude find their way into your thought pattern, take it captive and tell it to get out of your mind palace. ( On a side note I’m writing this chapter from my own ‘Mind Palace,’ I began writing this section inside a bounce house arena surrounded by 100 screaming kids, and I’m finishing it in my den while 5 little girls are all playing instruments horribly at obscene volumes. #takingthesethoughtscaptive)
Effective thinking is more than just avoiding negative thoughts; it is also about learning to think productively. Colossians 3:2 shows us to “ Because Sherlock doesn’t see the world from the same perspective the average person does, he is able to think beyond the average thought. Most people in this life are only focused on what is directly in front of them, some because it’s too hard to believe in something more, others because it is too frightening. When we expand our thinking to a Godly perspective in the light of eternity, when we see the world not only as the temporal/immediate things around us, we are able to have a much more functional and productive grasp on the world around us.
The things we choose to spend our time doing, Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” the things we choose to fight over, the words we choose to speak, even what we spend our time thinking about - it could all be dramatically altered when we are actually thinking about the bigger picture. Not only do we need to see the world from a God perspective, but we also need to have our minds ready to think, act, and respond.
Peter states in 1 Peter 1:13 to “Prepare your mind for action and be self-controlled, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” I find this encouraging but also slightly hilarious considering most of the time when we see Peter’s interactions in scripture, he is putting his foot in his mouth and saying stuff that gets him in trouble. None the less, it’s a concept we should put into practice. Sherlock thinks through scenarios in advance and thinks of possible outcomes before he ever walks into the situation. Like we see in his rooftop confrontation of Moriarity, he had already thought through so many possible scenarios that could play out that he had an entire team ready as he proceeded to jump off a roof and fake his own death. Most of us would have walked into a situation like that completely blind and unprepared.
While we probably won’t have psychopaths egging us to jump off of tall structures, we will have people ask us difficult life questions about our faith and face temptations, and countless struggles; if our minds are prepared for action, then we have a fighting chance.
Faith isn’t purely intellectual, but if we don’t put thought into our faith it will be shallow and crushed by the world around us. As Sherlock states “Dear God. What is it like in your funny little brains?” We should probably take an assessment of how we think, and how to improve the way we think to not only make us more effective in our own lives but to bring glory to God.