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Elementary Watson


Photo by: Bryan Costin

In the TV series Elementary, a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes, I find an interesting bit of dialogue in an episode called The Rat Race.

Detective Holmes is talking to Watson about something that Watson, played by Lucy Liu, says she hasn’t noticed before. Holmes asks Watson about a recent date. She tells him how she thinks she caught the man lying to her as they talked about whether they had been married before. Watson goes on to tell Holmes, “This isn’t something I would have noticed before I started working with you, but I could swear he wasn’t telling the truth.”

Holmes, showing pride in his understudy, says, “Flexing our deductive muscles are we… It has its costs…learning to see puzzles in everything. They’re everywhere. Once you start looking it’s impossible to stop. It just so happens that people with all the deceits and illusions that inform everything they do, tend to be the most fascinating puzzles of all. Of course, they don’t always appreciate being seen as such.”

Watson says, “Seems like a lonely way to live.”  Holmes replies, “Has its costs.”

Am thinking that these lines of dialogue reflect our need for what Jesus was referring to when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

By itself, a study in human nature (i.e. criminal psychology) might help us to suspect far more deceit and cover-up than we want to see in ourselves and others. Selectively used, the Bible gives us a crash course.

But the journey of the heart that Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount uses those same inclinations to lift us to our need of God. Once he gets our attention to the point that we can see how good he is for people like us, he takes us beyond the loneliness of our own guilty fears and coverup to seeing his merciful presence in the most unlikely places.

Holmes talks about seeing everywhere the puzzle evidence of “people with all the deceits and illusions that inform (i.e. shape) everything they do.”  Jesus on the other hand seems to be speaking of those who, being cleaned by the loving mercies of God (Matt 5:7), begin to see God with, in, and around us  (Matt 5:8)— for hearts needing reconciliation and peace (Matt 5:9).

If only those who are so afraid of us (Matt 5:10-11), could see us working with someone far more insightful– and far more gracious… than Watson and Holmes.



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39 Responses to “Elementary Watson”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    As a contributor to this collective conversation I can say that this subject is filled with a multitude of directions for which to share thought on. Making it difficult to know exactly where to begin.

    I read long ago all of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures and just as this conversation has mentioned, once you get into such a frame of mind you yourself begin to think like (or try to) the author.

    So almost like an actor who can’t shake free of the character he/she may be portraying so it is with becoming a reader of mystery as we try and solve the issue ahead of the end of the book.

    A small step then from fiction to the reality of dealing with people or *puzzles* and everything then is seen as being more than meets the eye.

    Most fascinating is the study of human behavior and also somewhat depressing too as there is a very dark side to human nature that lay just underneath the mask people put on for their own purposes.

    My study bible describes “pure in heart” in the Beatitudes as referenced to Psalms 24:3, 4, 5 and added in comment the idea that there in Matthew 5:8 it refers to *seeing* God in the coming Kingdom.

    There is a popular reality show on called “The Long Island Medium”, its Medium, Theresa Caputo, also has a book out titled “There’s More To Life Than This”.

    Whereas I don’t personally believe that the spirits of dead people hang around on earth, I do believe that people, all people have a persona or aura around them, you may call it a *spirit* or whatever helps you understand, but this *presence* if sensed reveals all about the person as well as much more.

    God sees all of us, our intents our actions and our deepest thoughts. Who could possibly be *pure in heart* when everything about them is revealed?

    Only a person whose inner being/heart is covered by the being of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Then when viewed by God a person is pure only because Jesus is pure and it Jesus that God sees and so enables us to *see* God from the position of *being pure*.


  • remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends –

    This faith journey map (The Beautiful Attitudes) Jesus gives us is a course in personal spiritual change – as well as a blue print for how we communicate with and relate to one another. Seeing God’s grace in every place and situation is part of a transformed life. Interesting that Watson (have not seen the program you mention) is conforming her thinking to Holmes’ because of admiring and understanding the “seeing a puzzle” way of living. Sherlock has offered Watson a way of looking at “people with all the deceits and illusions that inform (i.e. shape) everything they do.”

    Jesus’ ability to look upon the heart of those around him is always in terms of loving each one, understanding us/them and bringing the kingdom of God near – always inviting everyone to enter and be part of the circle of divine love – the community of the City of God. In comparison, Holmes’ manner of thinking and being is “elementary.” We perceive at all times that Sherlock Holmes is skeptical. It’s how he operates.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “Once he (Jesus) gets our attention to the point that we can see how good he is for people like us, he takes us beyond the loneliness of our own guilty fears and cover-up to seeing his merciful presence in the most unlikely places.”

    The feature of that way of living that frightens everyone is the seeming vulnerability of it. Watson must choose being an authentic human or always expecting the worst from everyone.