My Favorite Movie Quote (A Gut Reaction That Surprised Me)

I was doing an interview that had a set of rapid-fire questions at the end. I had a list of questions to prepare with. I just didn’t realize they were examples and not the real questions. Oops. Nothing like panic-pressure in the moment to unlock the deepest recesses of your brain. 

Amidst “favorite food” and “first concert” were lots of fun questions. You might be thinking, “How hard could a surprise question like that be? You already know it’s supposed to feel spontaneous. What’s the big deal?” 

To which I will respond, “It depends how deeply you think about your favorite things, friendo.”

When the host asked me for my favorite movie quote, I froze. Deer in headlights. I like movies. A lot. But, favorite movie quote? 

In my circles, that’s a big question. I didn’t have movies on my mind for this. I took a moment and took exactly what bubbled up in my precious little brain:

The bible quote, from “Pulp Fiction,” – that the character Jules says. The “And you will know my name is the Lord” speech. That’s it. 

That’s it? I’m saying this to myself. Then and now. 

“Hello gut, this is your captain speaking. 

Where the hell did you pull that out of?” 

OK, so in terms of favorite movie quotes, this isn’t a bad quote, by any stretch of the imagination. But where did it come from? And, why? 

I’ve been replaying the moment and the quote in quiet therapy for weeks now. I’m finally accepting why I think it shot out of my mouth. It’s worth sharing here.  

To start, the quote itself goes like this, 

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

It plays a crucial role in Jules’ (Samuel L Jackson’s) character development. At the beginning of his story, the quote represents “some cold-blooded s*** to say to a motherf***** before I popped a cap in his a**.” There’s a lot of shooting when he says it. A LOT. But life changes his perspective over the course of the movie. 

Jules takes the verse as a formula. He starts to swap out variables. He starts to reconsider roles, and the role he plays within his broader story. 

Jules used to tell himself he was the righteous man in the quote. But, he started to wonder, maybe his actions weren’t truly all that righteous. Maybe, that wasn’t his role anymore. Maybe it never was. Maybe, learning the quote and living life was a way to get him to notice – it’s better to be the shepherd. 

I feel this transformation deeply as an adult. 

The responsibility and weight of being a shepherd in a world where being righteous is hard is… hard. In a world where the lord acts in mysterious ways. In a world where all things great and furious mix with all things weak and dark. 

It’s hard. It requires humility. It requires transformation. 

I’m with end of movie Jules on this – the quotes require our reconsidering. 

Our purpose comes out of accepting our inevitable transformations. 

The variables are there to explored, exploited, and re-examined again. 

Our roles are there to be explored, exploited, and re-examined again. 

This Pulp Fiction quote really is one of my favorites. 

I don’t think I could have arrived at this quote in any way BUT in a surprise moment. 

And for that I’m grateful.

If nothing else, because it also leads to me what might be my most favorite quote from the movie (that I would have looked up if I was planning this in advance and actually thought hard about it):

If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions.

Hello fellow shepherds.

Know the questions you are asking. 

Hear the questions they are asking back.

Protect your flock. 

Live your role.  

Ps. The movie quote isn’t exactly from the Bible either. Quentin Tarantino (semi)famously doctored it up to make it read better. I think he actually added well to it. But this conversation about roles, relationships, and transformation, that’s a way longer post for another day. 

Pss. I’ll forever (also) get this song stuck in my head anytime I think of that bible verse

Psss. what’s YOUR favorite movie quote – gut reaction – let me know!