Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


Myths Christians Believe about Movies Like Noah

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Hollywood loves it when movies sail on a sea of controversy, but as Christians, let us make our entertainment choices based upon a serene, logical, wise mind. Golden Sea, original painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

The flood of media love for the Russell Crowe movie, Noah, awashes the brain. It reminds me of Mel Gibson’s 2004 Passion of the Christ, and people are saying the same things now, as they said back then.

Let’s look at some of these tedious pronouncements people are making about Noah that echo what they preached during Gibson’s moneymaking affair — because that’s what these movies do, my friend: they make somebody a lot of money. Before you determine whether some of that donation money will be yours, just make sure you’re not attending for any of these reasons:

Myth 1) It’s so wonderful that Hollywood is making family-friendly, and Biblically-based, fare! If we want more of the same, we need to attend.

You’ve got that right: as long as you put down the money, Hollywood will make more of the same, and in the case of Noah, look at the disclaimer:

This film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The Biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.

Christians are so desperate to be heard in Hollywood that we’ll take anything, even a production by an atheist director who describes his epic as “the least biblical film ever made.”

Yep, we’re getting more of the same all right.

Myth 2) You can’t expect a non-Christian to get it all right, but he did his best.

Director Darren Aronofsky isn’t stupid, and it can’t be much of a stretch to read four chapters out of Genesis and get the general import. He also can’t be unaware that his particular interpretation has a high chance of insulting many people who truly do believe in the “essence, value, and integrity” of what is not only a beloved story, but actual history, in their eyes.

Did Noah rise out of the sea? Was he a she? Did he tread water during the flood? We can get into all sorts of “interpretations,” if we choose. Aphrodite, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

How upset would Jane-ites be if Elizabeth Darcy slept with Mr. Bingley, in a “controversial” interpretation of Pride and Prejudice by someone who doesn’t like Jane Austen? Probably more upset than a lot of Christians will be about this movie.

Myth 3) An atheist is the best person to make a Christian film, because he has a more objective approach. Invite him to your next Bible study, and let him replace whoever’s been teaching you up to this time.

Too many Christians mentally genuflect at words of perceived wisdom by people who openly discredit God and His book. And yet these same Christians won’t interpret the words for themselves, because they might get it wrong. Of the two, atheists or Christians (even dithering ones), which group has the Holy Spirit as its guide?

Myth 4) What a super opportunity this is to witness!

Of what? That the Biblical account of Noah is no more than a fairy tale, and that anyone who believes it’s really true is an idiot?

You can’t witness about something that you’re unsure of yourself, and many Christians, struggling to reconcile the first 11 Chapters of Genesis with the pervasive, persuasive religious message of Darwinism and The Theory (Applied Like Law) of Evolution, don’t accept Noah’s account as literally true themselves.

Undoubtedly, the movie will do a great job of reinforcing this in their minds, and in the minds of many others.

Myth 5) We need to stop being so judgmental and narrow.

We must be open to different interpretations and ways of looking at this story.

All stories are open to different perspectives, but when we listen to those perspectives, we keep in mind the intent of the person giving them. If that person is hostile to the story, then his interpretation of it is justifiably questionable.

Should you go, or shouldn’t you?

The decision is yours, my friend, and whether or not “high profile religious leaders” approve or not, make up your own mind. It’s your mind; it’s your money; and it’s your judgment that decides how they will both be used.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. You know, I really enjoy a thoughtful, thought-provoking, well-made movie, which is why I critically look at any new interpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre!

Wise movie directors know that they owe their viewers a sense of consideration, deference, and respect when they present a new telling of a beloved story, and the lovers of those stories know that they have a right to hold an opinion, based upon their knowledge of and passion for that story. May our knowledge and passion for the Word of God be great indeed.

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  • Scale Lily

    Carolyn, an interesting approach, I would have been shocked if the director would have sought the substance of the Author. It has led to some interesting conversations for me. One gentleman new that I was a Christian but was surprised that I took a literal interpretation of the story. Another Christian believed the flood to be a parable and “only follows the God of the New Testament.” I don’t believe the Bible is as open to interpretation as we try to make it. There are, in my mind, Christians that can make worse movies that would imply emotion, experience, mysticism and gnosis, as the substance of faith, over the word of God. Hopefully, as Christians we come to the realization that this is God’s word, and we handle it accordingly. As for the world, it has already been judged, so all I can do is tell them. I hope everyone will seek to rightly divide the word of truth and enjoy the blessing and privilege that is God’s word rather than the emptiness of our own vain interpretations.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Steven — there’s a bit of bias in an atheist presenting a religious narrative, in the same way that one would question a Christian being the de facto speaker for atheists. While there is nothing in story telling, per se, that requires faith or belief, when one believes that the story is false, or symbolic, or a fairy tale, then one will be less likely to approach it with the honesty that a person who believes it is true will exhibit.

    Peter Jackson made an immense success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he carried the books around as if they were a Bible, constantly referring to them, and asking, “Am I being true to what the author intended?” I have difficulty in believing that an atheist would carry around a Bible like a Bible, asking himself, “Am I being true to what the Author intended?” because he doesn’t believe in the Author.

    As far as the Passion of Christ goes — don’t get me started. It was a great money maker. That’s about the best I can say for it.

  • http://thiswomanwrites.areavoices.com/ Carolyn Henderson

    Steven — there’s a bit of bias in an atheist presenting a religious narrative, in the same way that one would question a Christian being the de facto speaker for atheists. While there is nothing in story telling, per se, that requires faith or belief, when one believes that the story is false, or symbolic, or a fairy tale, then one will be less likely to approach it with the honesty that a person who believes it is true will exhibit.

    Peter Jackson made an immense success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he carried the books around as if they were a Bible, constantly referring to them, and asking, “Am I being true to what the author intended?” I have difficulty in believing that an atheist would carry around a Bible like a Bible, asking himself, “Am I being true to what the Author intended?” because he doesn’t believe in the Author.

    As far as the Passion of Christ goes — don’t get me started. It was a great money maker. That’s about the best I can say for it.

  • Steven Weiss

    Why can’t an atheist present a religious narrative? Verdi was an atheist and wrote the most beautiful Requiem Mass. There’s nothing inherent in story-telling that requires faith or belief. On the contrary, the atheist could approach the text in such a way as to make him look for narrative coherence and fidelity. There is no pre-qualification required to be a story-teller. If that were the case how could Mel Gibson, who hates Jews, be trusted to tell the story of a first-century Rabbi fairly?

  • http://thiswomanwrites.areavoices.com/ Carolyn Henderson

    Samuel — No shock, my friend, just wariness. And I am always wary of any “lessons” brought to me via Hollywood.

  • http://www.samuelmahaffy.com/ Samuel Mahaffy

    Why is there such shock in the Christian community to have the Noah story interpreted through a lens of stewardship. Stewardship is a message that comes very early in the Genesis story. We become too attached to our interpretations of narratives and too frightened of new interpretations.

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