Catch Me If You Can – Born to Run

Theme: Jacob the cheat

Bible refs: Genesis 27 vv 1-40

Location of clip: 17 mins and 44 secs to 21 mins and 47 secs

Film Description:
Frank W Abagnale was a conman. When his parents split up he ran away from home and little by little eased himself into a life of crime and deception. Brilliant and confidant he managed to pass himself off first as an airline pilot, then a doctor, and finally a lawyer. All without a single second of formal training. The story follows his life and the pursuit by the FBI agents who slowly closed in on him.

Clip description:
It’s Frank’s first day as a student at a new school. He arrives nervous and tense and immediately feels out of place. When he enters his first classroom and is mocked by some of the students, he walks to the board, chalks his name up and announces loudly how it is pronounced. He then hurries the kids to their seats and begins to conduct their French lesson.

A week later his parents are called in when it finally comes to light that Frank is in trouble. Not because he has been skiving, but because he has been masquerading as a French teacher. He has already organised a parent/teacher consultation and was planning a trip to a French bread factory.
When his parents emerge from the headmaster’s office his mother looks shaken, but his father glances at him and cracks a smile. He’s a chip off the old block.

Confidence will get you everywhere. If you stand tall and look as if you know where you’re going you can pass through most doors marked ‘private’. Frank certainly knew how to do that. And the Biblical Jacob was pretty good too.

Frank learnt his skills from his father, Jacob from his mother. It was Rebekah who set up the scam they played on his blind father, Isaac. When they dressed Jacob as Esau and tricked the older son out of the family blessing it was all her doing. Jacob was her boy, Esau was Isaac’s lad. But it was Jacob alone who bartered a bowl of soup for his brother’s birthright. Later, when it became clear that Esau hated his brother and intended to murder him, it was Rebekah who tricked Isaac into sending Jacob away. The mess of pottage was thickening all the time…

From then on, until the time when God gave him a limp, Jacob was always on the run. Just like Frank. He was ducking and diving, wheeling and dealing, sneaking his way in and out of trouble. And yet all the time God blessed him and looked after him. God had serious plans for Jacob. His name meant cheat – until the day of wrestling when it was changed to Israel.

Jacob went on to found a nation. Frank ended up working for the FBI. You never can tell the way things might work out.

1. I once took cheat notes up my sleeve into a school exam, and on another occasion pretended I’d written a story penned by someone else. Do you think there’s a conman inside all of us?
2. In spite of Jacob’s cheating God was very much evident in his life. What do you think about this notion that God in his compassion can still work in us, in spite of our dodgy side?
3. When Jacob asked God to bless him, God gave him a limp – do you think God has ever blessed you with something that at first seemed negative?
4. Have you inherited any family traits?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?

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