Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Religious Leaders Respond to Noah: Moving and Inspiring

posted by Nell Minow

Christian leaders are responding warmly to “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe.  I have not seen the film yet, but was moved by the response of my friend Rebecca Cusey, who has, unlike many of the people who have been complaining about it.  She writes:

I was never bored in this film. I was never embarrassed because it became too corny or trite or simplistic or unprofessional. Both those happen in Christian subculture movies. But this isn’t a Christian subculture movie. It’s a mainstream movie with deep theological themes.


It is just a good movie, a good movie made for everyone, that happens to be based on a Bible story….

The film differs from religious movies we all know in that the viewer doesn’t feel browbeaten at the end, forced to either accept or reject some theological point of contention. Rather, it opens questions and lets them linger. For all its talk of Creator, creation, and sin, it never preaches.

Ultimately, the movie explores hope versus despair, mercy in tension with justice, second beginnings. It is dark, but the darkness makes the clearing skies all the more lovely. It is a work of art and one that I recommend seeing, for believers and nonbelievers alike.

This is just what I was hoping for, a movie that begins a conversation that will open hearts to a deeper connection to the divine.  I’ll report back when I see the film.


  • Dee

    Why should we listen to Rebecca Cusey? She’s a racist and Holocaust denier who should have no credibility whatsoever. In another writing about Noah, she made up fictitious ethnic backgrounds for its stars (Jennifer Connelly, whose mother is Jewish, and Logan Lerman, who is just Jewish). She has refused to change her text to reflect that Connelly and Lerman are Jewish and that Lerman is the grandson of Holocaust refugees, as opposed to the nonsense she made up and felt the need to print about his background.

    • Nell Minow

      I know Rebecca Cusey and she is neither a racist nor a Holocaust denier. If you read the post you refer to more carefully, you will see that what she says is that the story of Noah — or any Biblical story — should include actors whose features reflect a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, which this film does not. That is the opposite of being racist. She was not referring to the lives and histories of the actors; she was referring to the fact that all of the stars have what are considered to be western European features. I thought her comments quoted here were exceptionally insightful and inclusive.

  • Dee

    I don’t know what “Western European features” are, but it sounds racist. Do none of the cast have “Central European features”? How about Northeastern? South-Central?

    In a racially loaded way, Rebecca claimed that the full-blooded Jewish grandson of Holocaust refugees, Lerman, was some Daughters of the American revolution member (I guess he goes to meetings in drag). And the same for Jennifer Connelly, which also isn’t true.

    By pure coincidence, while Rebecca herself dislikes this group (DAR), she is a member herself, or at least is eligible to be, per her own writing. Gee, what an “insult” to DAR to add these actors as members! So basically, it is the equivalent of an Orthodox Rabbi writing that Brad Pitt and George Clooney are Jewish. Except that somehow never happens.

    She has made no correction to the text whatsoever and anyone reading it will assume that she is saying neither actor is Jewish. So according to her, Lerman’s grandfathers were never persecuted for being Jewish by the Nazis, and in fact, they were never Jewish to begin with! Reading the text, I have to assume that they spent the 1930s and 1940s were enjoying their WASP county club benefits and golfing on the range, while their wealthy fathers appealed FDR to stay the hell out of World War II. That is Holocaust denial (you don’t have to deny the ”whole” thing to be one).

    But again, no correction has been made whatsoever and she refuses to print factual information (although presumably if instead of attractive actors, it was some annoying comedian like Jonah Hill, all of a sudden he would be Jewish).

    • Nell Minow

      No, I don’t think anyone who reads the text will assume that because that is quite different from what she actually says in very clear terms. In the comment section she engages with her usual good humor and open-mindedness with all of the comments, including expressing appreciation for the information about Lerman’s family background. The point she is making is the opposite of racism; she was saying she was disappointed that the actors in this movie reflected an absence of racial diversity, and she specifically mentions the absence of Asian and black actors. She never said anything in any way that denied the Holocaust or the ethnicity of the actors in the film. Your accusations are unfounded and your characterization of her comments is distorted. She never disputed any of the facts of Lerman’s family background or any of the history of the Holocaust and saying otherwise is just wrong.

      I respect Rebecca’s call for actors who do not look like her and her family. Too often it is the contrary, as in “Son of God,” where “bad” Jews are Semitic looking but Jesus (played by a Spanish actor) looks like Brad Pitt and shows no evidence of Jewish belief or practice. You make ugly assumptions about Rebecca’s background that are completely contrary to what she says. The worst part is that you are both on the same side; you both want to see the cast in a Biblical story reflect the diverse ethnicities of Biblical times, as do I. Please read what she wrote again, and discuss it with someone you trust — you have completely missed the point and the tone, which is one of the utmost respect for all beliefs and backgrounds.

  • Dee

    She didn’t dispute the information (… after she had been told it) but she never changed her original text to reflect it. That is why, for example, someone wrote in several months ago, “Logan Lerman is fully Jewish” (the commenter named “Less”), because they naturally assumed she was claiming otherwise. That is the problem with the text and it hasn’t been changed.

    As for Son of God, I believe almost none, if any, of the actors, in that film are actually Jewish (which befits a New Testament film…).

    Most of the Jewish priests and their temple guards, including Malchus (who are generally “negative” characters) looked “whiter” than Jesus’ followers.

    Actor Diogo Morgado is Portuguese, not Spanish, and he looks vaguely like Brad Pitt only if you gave Pitt considerably darker coloring. Besides, for whatever reason, Jesus doesn’t rank that high on my list of Jewish role models…

    • Nell Minow

      You are right that mourners said Kaddish after Jesus died, but as I am sure you know “rabbi” just means teacher, and I would expect an observant Jew of that era to say a brucha or read from the Torah and some observance of a seder that went beyond matzoh. And of course Jesus, who died a Jew, would be a more likely Jewish role model than Noah, who lived before Abraham. As for who should portray the roles — the issue is ethnicity (Middle Eastern), not religion. The events took place in a specific historic region and of course religions can be practiced by people of any ethnicity and actors are by definition pretending to be something they are not. You don’t have to be a Christian to play a Christian or a Jew to play a Jew. But some roles call for particular ethnicities. There was a time when John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, and Alec Guinness played Asians and Laurence Olivier played Othello. That is no longer considered appropriate. Color-blind casting is and should be widely prevalent except when ethnicity is an essential part of the storyline and getting it wrong undermines the integrity of the movie.

      We disagree on the connotation of the ethnicity of the actors in these movies, but our exchange has provided plenty of guidance for those who read it to draw their own conclusions. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.

  • Dee

    BTW, Jesus doesn’t show any signs of Jewish belief or practice in Son of God? He is referred to as “Rabbi” several times, and as a Jew several times (including by Pontius Pilate). He also shares Matzoh with his followers during the last supper/Passover seder. Mourners for Jesus mourn with a Hebrew prayer.

    I mean, yes, there is no scene of Jesus’ Bar Mitzvah…

  • Jacob Greenwood

    Noah existed and his sons and their descendants be traced through Chronicles in the Bible and archaeology to people and places that exist today. Why do the seven Noahide laws, which Abraham and the civilized world followed, still resonate?

    1 You shall not have any idols before God.
    2 You shall not murder.
    3 You shall not steal.
    4 You shall not commit adultery, incest or bestiality.
    5 You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
    6 Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
    7 Set up a governing body of just laws.
    READ “Finding Noah” at

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