To remember, or not to remember?

“Remember the animal, remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, but why remember a destructive love affair? Here at Lacuna we have perfected a safe defective technique for the focused erasure of troubling memories. Our patented non-surgical procedure will rid you of painful memories and allow you a new and lasting piece of mind you never imagined possible. Don’t forget, with Lacuna you can forget.”
– Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2006)

Some people are haunted by their memories, and many have pasts they wish they could forget. There are a lot of movies about erasing memories, but none do it better than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2006), a film about a couple who choose to erase their memories of each other after they break up.

Why remember a destructive love affair?
Lacuna Inc. is the memory erasure clinic that Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) and Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) go to. It is Clementine who does it first, and in retaliation, Joel decides to do it, too. “Miss Kruczynski was not happy and wanted to move on. We provide that possibility,” the doctor tells him.

Joel doesn’t respond well to the treatment, and in his mind he is running around trying to ‘save’ Clementine from being erased. Clementine, on the other hand, cannot understand why she constantly does a certain thing or goes to a certain place. Her memory of the person Joel has been erased, but the memory that linger in places, sceneries and objects have not entirely faded.

I love mind films like Eternal Sunshine and Inception (2010), which inevitably show the limits of human technology to tamper with the behaviour of the mind. Something always goes wrong in the process, and unexplainable consequences are always said to be the work of Chance.

Does God remember?
In the Old Testament, God instructed the Israelites to perform rituals and ceremonies to remember how they were freed from slavery in Egypt. They include dedicating firstborn children and animals, eating foods without yeast and holding an annual festival (Exodus 13).

But just as we should remember God’s goodness in our lives, God himself does not remember the badness in our lives when we trust in him. If God kept a record of our misbehaviours, we would not be able to stand before him (Psalm 130:3). Because God is love and love keeps no record of wrongdoings (1 Corinthians 13:5), he forgives us and no longer remembers our sins (Jeremiah 30:34).

Lacuna Inc. claims to offer a focused erasure of troubling memories, but God has long erased our record of wrongdoing by Jesus’s death and resurrection (Colossians 2:4). When we trust in Him, we become a new person and are given a new life. This by default erases our pasts and awful memories.

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