The fundamentalists have got it wrong again… (Part 2 of my response to the movie Noah)
I went to see the movie Noah with my family last night and was left wondering if I saw the same movie as the religious conservatives have been commenting about this past week or so. One thing I have learned is that religious fundamentalists are an unforgiving bunch of people. If the law is broken or if they feel God’s word is being compromised, they gang up and make attacks that often are not Christ-like. Darren Aronofsky, the director of Noah, and the movie itself have come under some really heavy attacks, Those that support the movie are made to feel that they are making the true Christians feel guilty. I wondered if I should write a blog about my view of the movie. I decided I will because I love stirring the religious pot. If Jesus could side with an adulterous woman against religious fundamentalists, I am sure its okay to defend Aronofsky.
I loved the movie. I saw in the movie the creative genius of Aronofsky. To me he accurately portrayed the redemptive narrative found in the Bible. A very clear message was presented in the movie, if we choose to listen. There is a major shift in the movie from justice to mercy. Evil and wickedness was spreading in the world. The descendants of Seth had to contend with the descendents of Cain. The Bible tells us that the wickedness broke God’s heart and He vowed to destroy every living thing from the face of the earth. However Noah was found righteous (Genesis 6:5-8). We have different ideas of what it means for Noah to be righteous. In my opinion Aronofsky took a more biblical view of Noah. It is clear from the Bible that righteousness in God’s sight is not about sinless perfection but placing our faith and belief in God’s word. So when Abraham believed God’s word, it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6). In the case of Noah, Aronofsky portrayed Noah as a man who believed that God hated the evil and wickedness in the world. God was going to wipe out humanity because of His justice. Aronofsky got Noah portraying this justice of God from the very beginning. When he killed the men who hunted an animal, Noah said it was for justice. God had never meant humans to kill or eat animals at that time in history. Noah, believing God, stood up to defend God’s justice. Noah knew that he and his family were sinners as well and will die because God saw all humans as evil. He killed the people trying to enter the ark because God’s justice demanded that humanity must perish. He threatened to kill his grand daughters because they inherited the sin that God was planning to wipe out from the earth. Aronofsky showed Noah to be righteous because he believed God and defended God’s justice. As the film showed quite clearly, justice without mercy is cruelty.
However, Noah began to get a change of heart where we see him shifting from justice to mercy. He spared his grand daughters and he thought he had failed God. In my opinion, Aronofsky was also showing through Noah, God’s change of heart. After the flood, God made a promise that He will no longer destroy humanity like He did (Genesis 8: 21-22). He was prepared to show humanity mercy so that they can have the opportunity to return to Him. The movie ends with Noah repeating the blessing God gave him in Genesis 9:1, to go out and multiply.
I was intrigued by the passing of the snake’s skin down Seth’s descendants. I concluded that it could refer to the promise that God makes in Genesis 3 where the heel of the woman would crush the head of the snake, the first reference in the Bible of the coming Messiah. The line of Seth was keeping that promise alive. However Ari Handel, the co-writer to the movie, explained that when they did their research, they found that some commentaries talked about God’s parting gift of a garment of skin to be that of the skin of the snake. It was to remind them of how they have lost their place in the Garden of Eden.
Aronofsky brought a number of Biblical characters into the movie. We see Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, whose name means “When he dies, judgment”. Methuselah died the same year God judged the world with the flood. Noah’s father Lamech died before the flood. Tubal-Cain, portrayed as the villain in the movie, was a descendent of Cain and was the forger of instruments made of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22). Traditions have him as the first person to make weapons of war.
A number of Christians were upset at the portrayal of Noah as a vegan and as a drunk. Yet they fail to understand from the Bible that humans were vegetarians as required by God and it was only after the flood that God gave permission to humanity to eat meat (Genesis 9: 1-4). Also the Bible tells us that Noah got drunk and it was Shem and Japheth that covered the naked Noah and not Ham. For that Ham got cursed by Noah (Genesis 9: 20–27).
Then there are the ‘watchers’, the large rock like monsters. In Genesis 6: 1-8, we read about the sons of God and the daughters of men. There have been plenty of discussions on who the sons of God were. One view is that the sons of God were angelic beings taking the form of masculine human-like creatures. The sons of God being angelic beings is not a strange view because we read about the sons of God, including the devil, coming into the presence of God (Job 1:6; 2:1). The result of the union between the sons of God and the daughters of men, could be the Nephilim (Numbers 13:33), a race of super-humans. For me the watchers were this group of people Aronofsky was trying to portray.
There is also the concern that as Noah told his family about the creation story, it was implied that God created the world through evolution. This would definitely upset a small group of Christians. But to me, the movie acknowledges that God was the Creator.
There are definitely material presented that are not in the Bible like Tubal-Cain being in the ark or that Shem was the only one with a wife. But most of these material are nothing to lose sleep over.
The movie is definitely a great movie to see with a lovely redemptive story of how God changes His mind and chose to show mercy rather than condemnation to a world He loves. So to Aronofsky, I say “Thank you for being true to the redemptive message of the Bible”. To the fundamentalists I say, “Get over it. You are wrong again.” 🙂