What do The Last Temptation of Christ, The Life of Brian, The Passion of the Christ, and Bruce Almighty have in common?
Some Christians found the films wildly offensive; some found meaning and a deeper understanding of aspects of their faith by watching. Personally, I’m not prepared to take any of that quadrilogy of movies in place of reading the actual stories that they touch on, but if I’m honest, each of them has challenged my faith to grow deeper because of some aspect.
Do I really think Jesus and Mary Magdalene did more then talk? No, but Last Temptation made me think about what it really means for Jesus to be human.
Do I really think Jesus was an accidental Messiah? No, but an outsider’s point of view helps me see how what I take for granted about the narrative of Jesus’ ministry and passion.
Do I really think that the serpent/tempter/Satan showed up throughout the narrative the way that Mel Gibson depicted it? No, but what if Jesus was under that emotional and mental torture, even while he was being physically beaten?
Do I really think God looks like Morgan Freeman? No, but Jesus probably looks more like Freeman than he’d look like me.
So, to the rumors that Noah is depicted as crazy by Darren Aronofsky and Russell Crowe, and that the film talks about preserving the Earth in an environmental emphasis, I say, so what? This serves as my final foray into advance consideration of the film- I’m going to see it tomorrow.
This is the description of Noah we have in Genesis 6 (NIV): “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” That’s right after we hear how “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” There’s nothing there that says that Noah was perfect, but by the standards of the day, he was righteous and blameless.
Sure, someone will jump on how faithful Noah was, even citing Hebrews 11: “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Oh, wait, Noah responded in fear and his faith in what he was told him to do condemned the world. No, that’s not how we’d articulate Jesus/the New Testament most of the time, but Noah falls in line with a broken line of humans from Abraham to Jacob to David who tried to follow God, all while butchering the method and message which God conveyed love to the world.
I’m not saying everyone needs to or wants to see a movie that has a tag “if you liked Gladiator” because that’s not for everyone. But seriously, let’s not condemn the movie a) without seeing it or b) without considering that a self-proclaimed atheist is doing us a favor and helping us see Noah creatively and from the outside of the tradition. I, for one, am thankful for the opportunity to see the story from a different perspective.
I may hate the movie, but it will make me think. Are you willing to be open-minded?
Stay tuned for a review, coming Monday.