"be fruitful and multiply

Three Huge Things "Noah" Gets Right---And We Christians Have Gotten Wrong

Have you seen it yet? I went two nights ago. It was not what I expected. I didn't like it. I fought the impulse to walk out. I felt mostly dissonance between this film and the Biblical account that "inspired" it.  But over the next few days, as I've read many reviews, listened to others'  responses, and chewed and meditated, I've come to some other thoughts. Here they are:

Three Huge Things 'Noah' Got Right—and We've Gotten Wrong: 

1. *”Noah” portrays the flood as a horrific, terrifying, cataclysmic event that utterly destroyed the world. It's not a cartoon. Amen. I could stop there and be satisfied. Who can forget the family huddled around a fire while those scrambling on the final cliffs, desperate to live, scream to the angry heavens before being washed into the dead deep like so much flotsam??  Everyone dies, and we know it. We see it. We feel it.  That portrait is worlds closer to the Bible than the “arky-arky” song that we sing in Vacation Bible School, and the general way we have reduced the Biblical account to sweet children’s books of darling animal couples and a happy family on some kind of (albeit rainy) global cruise. We do this even in adult Bible classes. Is the movie disturbing on this account? Good. (Do you not think God was disturbed when he did this?)   And----yes, I feel this way about most of the Old Testament stories, which we infantilize and reduce to the simplest moral, often missing the larger, deeper, darker reality of the events (Not to mention names, Veggie Tales). 

2. *”Noah” portrays a real human being who struggled with himself, his family, his knowledge and understanding of God. And yes, he got drunk. (Please do not complain about this scene. Noah got drunk at least once. This happened.) No, he likely did not turn into a murdering madman while on the Ark, lifting a knife over the two babies born (reminding me powerfully of what God DID call Abraham to do).  And No, he likely did not believe that he and his family had been saved purely for the purpose of saving the animals, and the new world could only be perfect without them. But----Aronofsky got this right: Noah was likely a conflicted, struggling man called to a near impossible task that must have driven him mad at times. And, that must have exiled him from his family at times. How do I know this? Because he was a human being.

What we get wrong? That “holy, righteous people” are perfect, cardboard, two-dimensional super-spiritual beings without the conflicts, failures and complexities that face us normal sinners.  Read about Jonah again. Job. Samson, King David and many other “heroes of the faith” who were thoroughly imperfect.

 3. *”Noah” depicts a man who cares deeply about ALL of “The Creator’s” creation. Yes, I have read the complaints, that the movie has been hijacked by a PETA sensibility (I think Noah probably picked flowers and killed animals and smacked his lips over the taste of their flesh---so there, Darren Aronofsky!!) But his preachy environmentalism must not overshadow the fact that Christians have missed the boat on this for too long: that God placed man over all the works of His hands that we would so nurture this garden of a world that all creatures would be blessed by our care, that they too could “be fruitful and multiply”: the birds, animals, fish . .  .  Is it  not logical to suppose that if “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time,” that this unrestrained evil would extend to man’s relationship with creation? Are we to suppose that man, consumed by evil, corrupt, kills, rapes and plunders one another but treats God’s world with love, honor and respect?  

We’ve lived a kind of dualism as Christians for too long, supposing God values only human life, that God’s going to torch this world anyway, so use it up, subdue it down!  And that all that lives and moves is here for our use and pleasure. No. Not enough. God so loves the world that he sent only Son that whosoever believes in Him has eternal life---and this eternal life will be, guess what, in a city of rivers and animals and trees that always bear fruit, in a Creation as intricate and beloved as this one. 

There's more he got right----and there are 30 other things I wish Aronofsky had done differently, but I'm glad I went. It is my desire and my hope to "bring into captivity every thought to the Lordship of Christ," which means I am looking in all the God-haunted corners of this world for what I might learn about Him, about us, about this world we inhabit together. I don't expect a biblically accurate movie to come from a self-described atheist, but here is one thing I do expect: I expect my fellow Christ-ians to extend grace and wisdom, and to applaud whatever is good wherever it can be found. Yes, call out error, but be just as quick and hungry to find grace and good. 

Should you go to the movie? Am I a heretic or misguided? Some will let me know. That's okay. Whatever you decide, don't stop loving your neighbors, all of them. Even those you think don't believe.  Even those you think may have gotten it wrong. 

May Christ's peace be with us all.