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Noah was directed by the enigmatic Darren Aronofsky who had directed other films such as Pi, The Tree of Life, and Requiem for a Dream.  Oh and that controversial one, The Black Swan.  He is no stranger to edgy.  After seeing the first two movies, I was dwelling on the ideas and themes for days afterwards.  Even now, at the mention of them, I still have questions and insights.

So when I heard he was doing Noah, I was excited.  What was he going to do?  How would he portray a character that had been so misconstrued by culture already?

Misconstrued?

Yes.  Misconstrued.  Who here has never had Noah and the animals on the ark as a wallpaper or a nursery picture?  It’s cute right?  Noah on a boat with some giraffes sticking their heads up and a bird or two circling around.  If you were lucky, there would also be some really happy looking waves with fish and such.

That same weekend, another “Christian” movie was playing.  God’s not Dead played next door to the Noah movie.  The choice was there but the decision was easy to make.  Watch a movie where stereotypes and caricatures had it out with a Duck Dynasty member thrown into the mix or see a movie with a Hollywood budget and rock monsters (more on that in a moment)?

Leading up to this post, I have read countless reviews from both multiple viewpoints.

The movie was offensive.

The movie really destroyed the actual story.

Rock Monsters?

It was a good witnessing tool.

The movie pushed people to read the Bible.

Rock Monsters?

I will not critique the different movie points.  Many good reviews do that already.  I even loved the article arguing the movie was a gnostic retelling of the story.

Why was Noah a good movie?

Did you hear the cries of the people as God punished creation?  Did you see the desperation in Noah’s eyes as he heard their screams?  Did you get how Noah saw himself as wicked as well?  Did you see how Noah tried to grapple with what he felt God was telling him?

In Noah I saw more reality than I had in other “Christian” movies.  I felt the art pull me into the story, into Noah’s desperation. I cringed as the whole world was reduced to seven, then nine, then eight people.  I felt the anguish of the mother as Noah held the knife over the heads of the babies.  And then I felt the relief as Noah relinquished and let them live.

There were real problems and they weren’t all nice and solved at the end of the movie.  We were left to deal with the consequences of Noah’s actions.  Do you know why he was drunk at the end?  Because he had failed his version of God.

“His version of God?  God told him to kill the babies.”

Did God really tell Noah to kill the babies?  Think back to Noah’s logic.  Remember when he went into Tubal Cain’s camp to find his sons women?  Remember that bedraggled man he saw that ate the flesh of animals or humans or whatever?  He was seeing himself as God saw man.  Evil.  Wicked.  Rebellious.

This was either Aronofsky’s big flaw or his brilliance at play.  As he is reportedly an atheist, I would say flaw but I could be wrong.

What does scripture say about how God saw Noah?  God saw Noah as righteous (Genesis 6:9).  Here is an excellent article on why this is.  If Aronofsky knew this to be true, then this is brilliance.  Noah is really a commentary on some Christian’s today.  We forget that God sees Jesus instead of our sin when He looks at us.  In the movie, Noah had some bad theology.  When he arrives back to the ark and locks everyone in, he reveals his plan.  As sin wasn’t the result of people’s actions but something inherent in them from the beginning, Noah figures God wanted them to die out and extinguish the human race.

Did God say this?  I found myself asking “If God wanted to kill off all of humanity, why save Noah and his family then?  Wouldn’t the fate of being the last man on earth be worse than a death by the catastrophic flood?

Noah is misreading God.  This is Aronofsky’s second brilliant point, one which I think he probably meant to flesh out.  Christians, me included, have the tendency to take the Word of God and twist it to fit their message, their ideologies, and their “convictions”.  Now, this doesn’t excuse Aronofsky for making God a mute deity who speaks through visions and signs but isn’t that how many in the American Church see God today?  But I digress.

I see the proof of Noah misreading God fleshed out in the end when Noah gets back with his family and passes on the birthright to his oldest son, essentially telling him to carry on filling the earth.  It is then that we see rainbows filling the sky.  Noah goes from ending all of life and doing as God had intended- encouraging life to flourish.  This is when we see full closure, a real ending to the narrative.

 

Yes, there is a lot in the movie that really trounces the Biblical text.  But it did get me to think about the nature and character of God way more than any other “Christian” movie ever has.

 

Appendix A

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(ROCK MONSTERS!!!!)

Ok.  Let’s talk Rock Monsters.

Due to the alliterate state of the American Church, I doubt most Christians have heard or dealt with the Books of Enoch.

“No, I totally have.  He’s that guy that walked with God and then he was not because God took him.”

The books of Enoch introduced us to some of the more interesting Angel lore.  This is the book Jude might have been talking about when he wrote about Michael and Satan arguing over Moses’ body.  The Watchers also show up in the book of Daniel.

So, in angel lore, the Watchers, or Grigori, are “Servants of the most high” who form the inner council of God and relay His messages to Earth.  Some also think that they are involved with human governments, helping man pass decrees and laws and such.  Also, as the root for their name indicates, it is thought that these beings never sleep and thus are always “watchful.”

There is also within angle lore the idea that these angelic hosts were the ones who fell from the heavens and, after lusting after women, produced nephilim.  Interestingly enough, the books of Enoch implied it was this transgression that brought about the flood.

If nothing else, scholars believe this gave the exiled Israelites hope.  They had been taken from their promised land and the temple was in ruins.  The presence of God was no longer with them.  Despite this, there was a hope for exiled Israel as “it is possible these angels may be mere reflectors of Yahweh Himself.  He is the keeper of Israel who never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4), and the One whose eyes range throughout the whole earth (Zec 1:10; 3:9; 4:10).”

I would figure, therefore, that Aronofsky combined the two major characterizations, the fall of the Watchers and their tendency to help mankind, and formed a whole new “monster.”  So calm down, these are not really inconceivable and are more biblical than you probably knew (with some poetic licensing added).


For the details regarding the Watchers, I referred to the Wikipedia page and my International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol 4 Q-Z.  The pictures are not mine.

 

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I don’t think anyone out there has really derided me for what I read or how often I do so.  There has been the inevitable “Wow, you read?  I just don’t have time for that.” Then I hear the popular “I’ve only read one book in my life,” or the variation “I didn’t even read the books in high school.”  And then I have heard “reading is pointless.  The only book you should read is the bible.”

If you don’t like reading, this is fine.  In fact, this probably means you have more of an interactive lifestyle, leading you to interact with more people (ever try reading with your friends?  Boring.)  But I do have to admit, the sin nature in me (pride, wanting to be right ALL the time, the search for ultimate knowledge), bristles at those statements.  “How can one not read?  How can one only read the Bible?”  This is not for selfless reasons.  Purely selfish in intent.

So I’ll knock that right out by stating this is not what this is.  I feel like enough time has passed since hearing this for this to be a post designed to glorify God, not glorify me.  So with this said, what is reading to me?

 

Growing up, there was not a lot of money and there were a lot of us.  So Disney was a guy who made cartoons and six flags were what those crazy neighbors decorated their houses with.  Our TV had two dials (not sure why) but there were only a couple channels it could get.  The houses we grew up in were mostly located on a busy street, making our experience of outside the back yard.  We did the parks, the boardwalks (love Jersey boardwalks before “The Jersey Shore” (Do I have to do that trademark thing or pay royalties for using that?)), the malls, and everywhere else you could go without using money.  They were good times.  But my favorite place growing up was the library.  One, I love the smell of old books.  ‘nuff said.  Two, I really enjoyed having all the options to choose from, all the ideas in one place, all the stories gathered together.

So, due to that environment, from watching my Mom steal minutes away in her non-fiction books between caring for us and the house, and watching Dad relax with a pulp fiction book with yellowed pages (why yellow?), I took to the written word easily.  I read whatever I could.  In fact, while other kids were banned from video games and TV for punishment, I wasn’t allowed to read.  Yeah, I’m a nerd.  I would get so desperate during those times that I would read the backs of cereal boxes, the warnings on cleaning solutions on the table, and the small print on medicine canisters.  Did you know that whenever you somehow got chemicals in your eyes, you would first want to flush your eyes out then contact your doctor?  I feel like that would be a natural response up to the “calling your doctor” bit.  Hopefully you had someone with enough sense and sight to, not call your doctor, but to drive your butt to the Emergency Room.

But I’m going off on a tangent.  Point is, I read a lot.  It got so bad that when I ran out of my books to read, I read my sister’s books.  Read all of Little House on the Prarie…Ok, those were mine.

 

Tangent

One of my greatest disillusionments growing up was realizing that Laura Ingalls Wilder never actually wrote her books and they weren’t always historically accurate (they were written by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane who was a columnist or some such thing).

My second disillusionment was finding out Charlotte Church had morphed into a pop star, leaving her classical work behind…but that’s another post (please no.)

 

Back on Track

I love reading.  Always have, always will.  Even when my eye sight will go, I will have lived long enough for them to install artificial ocular implants (hopefully not in the form of Levar Burton’s VISOR (another royalty fee owed?)).  My favorite book that my sister lent me was Anne of Green Gables.  Loved it.  I actually loved it so much, I used my man card as a book mark.  Yeah.

Anyway, I devoured books from William Bennet’s collections, to animal stories, to pioneer stories, to ancient historical fiction, to sci fi to mysteries.  It took me a day to get through the abridged and condensed Great Illustrated Classics.  They had the hardcovers and the soft covers.  I could get the soft covers for a dollar each at…a store that doesn’t exist any more and I can’t remember the name of (my one chance to escape having to pay royalties and I blow it).  My favorite was The Count of Monte Cristo and The Hound of the Baskervilles.  When I grew up I actually read both in the completed form.  The count was rough, took me several months to complete.

With all of this reading though, I read little of the actual bible.  Oh, I devoured this one bible story book that we had but that was about it.  I could tell you about Old Testament dudes that a lot of people don’t even know existed.  But when it came to that guy Paul or Peter, not so much.  And I would feel guilty but not enough to actually pick up the bible.

My non-fiction reading was non-existent.  I feel as if there were a handful of biographies and non-fiction up to my first year of college.  Of course, during high school, I got a lot of my theology from studying apologetics which probably isn’t the best way to form a theological foundation but it happened.

Now, in my young adult years, I am taking back the opportunity and reading some heavier stuff.  John Piper, J.I. Packer, David Platt, C.S. Lewis, Josh Harris, Francis Chan to list some of them…most of them…all of them.  I’m working on it.  I’m waiting for the day when I can jump into Jon Edwards, John Owen, and John Calvin.  The three Johns.  I am finding that it is a different beast, reading for information than for mere story.  And I’m finding my memory needs some help.  So I’m going through more with a pen marking in the margins as I read.

 

Where am I Going With This?

 

As I come across people, there are those who read and those who don’t, as I stated before.  Here is my argument.  As a Christian, as a follower of Christ, one must become a reader.  I’m not saying always have a book on hand or an e-reader.  But we all must become, to one degree or another, a reader in our own way.

We are given the inspired word of God as a way to know and commune with the Creator of the universe.  Those who read it incorrectly go off and form cults.  Those who don’t read it are not going to grow spiritually as we cannot be always spoon fed.

Then there are books about the bible.  Those who read it incorrectly are well advised to read these books so as to correct and inform their thinking.  I am not taking away from one of the offices of the Holy Spirit in helping us discern the scriptures for ourselves.  But I am saying that there are a million helpful texts out there (Fee and Stuart come to mind in “How to read the Bible for all it’s worth”).

Then there are secular books.  I feel it’s important to read these at times in order to see man for who he is.  Also, I have heard it said before, God has not given Christians the market on truth.  You can find it outside of the Christian bubble…sometimes in a more potent form.  Stephen King and Lovecraft come to mind.

 

Reading is part of the Christian faith.  Its part of our walk.  So try it.  It cant hurt.  And there’s always books on tape.  Their fun, especially if it’s a good voice actor.  I don’t think I really ever read a “Borrower” book, just listened to them on tape.  On a walkman.  Wow I’m old.

 

Peace,

Bill

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Hell’s Bell

Yes, I am joining the million Born Again Christians who is speaking out against Rob Bell’s new book.  Love Wins.  I watched his NOOMA videos in youth group back in ’03, ’04 and remember thinking that it was interesting, a little off sounding but they were ok.  Then I remember reading his book, “Velvet Elvis” and, though I cannot remember why, I know I did not like it.  His writing is very easy to understand but his views are very watery, vapory, and ethereal.  There was no real ground for them and they did not stand up to simple Bible truth.  This being said, I was slightly surprised when I read a sample (not worth the $10 yet due to the fact that I will only give it another paragraph or so of thought.)

Rob Bell is not a Calvinist in any of the points whatsoever.  I will not touch that as some brilliant men are not as well.  What I am concerned about is the fact that he seems to lump humanity all under God’s Mercy which in fact the Bible clearly states we are not all under God’s mercy.  Secondly, he seems to take all the sovereignty from God in several paragraphs.

Later, I hear he claims hell is not a real place, or something to that effect.  A question he does raise is very relevant though.  He queries whether or not Heaven is the ultimate goal of our witnessing.  I have personally struggled through this, without reaching a conclusion as of yet.

All said and done, though, in searching through what others have said about this, I enjoyed a tweet from @JamieReckless “Why is everyone so shocked that “pastors” like Rob Bell,Joel Osteen,& Jay Bakker are teaching a user friendly gospel?Our Bible tells us this”.  Very true.  He teaches what everyone wants to hear and people like him for it.  OK.  I’m done.

P.S. One more thing: What does Rob Bell believe?

and the follow up with the interviewer, Martin Bashir: Interview by Paul Edwards with Martin Bashir

Edit 4/9/11

Here is a site with a nice timeline of whats going on with Rob Bell in his heretical ravings.

Chronology of Bell’s Hell

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