Noah (without spoiling the movie)

We went to see “Noah” this past weekend. Some atheist director of large movies took on a study of the Bible. For all the things that could be said about liberalities, secularizing, environmentalism, I thought it did an exemplary job of exploring how people hear God. In some people’s imagination, brought vividly to life by Bill Cosby, back in the day, it was an audible voice out of the skies. noah 3But that’s just someone’s imagination. When the Bible says, “God told Noah,” it doesn’t say “in an audible voice out of the air.” It just says God said it. If someone tells me that MEANS it was an audible voice, what it really means is that this is the way this person imagines it. But God doesn’t speak to people only with an audible voice.
Sometimes God sends a dream or fire from heaven or a vision or visits in a form people can understand as a person or in a book (like THE book) or through an angel or through a prophet or in a still, small whisper or in a pillar of smoke or a pillar of fire or a burning bush and a voice or in a particularly vivid way as Jesus.
God speaks in ways that we can understand and it is fascinating that this is what Noah is told in the movie. I believe one of the core elements of this vision of the story is the exploration of how God speaks to people. At different points God speaks:
• Through the repetition of his story as told to others
• Through creation
• Through dreams
• Through ritual
• Through verbal blessing of one person to another (confirming the blessing)
• Through shared wisdom
• Through signs (like a flood or a rainbow or a miracle)
• Through angels
• Through forgiveness
• Through community interpretation
All these ways that we read in the Bible of people seeking after knowledge or understanding from God and finding it or shown in this movie as it tells the story. We even have the example of someone demanding God to speak, essentially telling God to say what this person wants to hear, without looking at what is right in front of his face and has been throughout his life. And we see someone corrupting words and ideas we find in Scripture as one who has heard the words, but is making them fit his own design or imagination.
I was impressed with the adherence to Scripture’s telling us that people were given plants to eat before the flood, or the story of Creation (with a gentle variation) being passed down as God spoken or all the animals being drawn to the ark and Noah not having to get them. I was also impressed with the combining of the issues of free will and God’s ordaining something and miracles and God’s seeking our partnership (a rather fuller act of obedience some believers don’t seem to appreciate). I also like that they utilized elements that so many Christians latch onto, that the ark is broken in two in the mountains or that it was a big “box” more than a ship.
And I liked the “explanations” that were given, suggesting how the events may have played out without diminishing the story as Scripture presents it.
noah 4Overall, I found “Noah” to be a retelling that reminded me that God is involved and enjoys our world, doesn’t wink at the damage humans do to each other and the world, desires a relationship with us and understands our fragility. Those who are seeking to “defend” the faith and who use “Noah” as a supposed attack are not only shadow-boxing, but are also missing a chance to open a generous extended hand of friendship. We should never forget the guy to whom Jesus said, “You’re not far from the kingdom.”

3 responses to “Noah (without spoiling the movie)

  1. Beautiful. I agree with you completely. I loved the movie and will see it again, after having read the Flood story more completely.

    God has not spoken to me in a direct, articulate manner and I sometimes use that as a justification for making decisions that may be wrong. However, just like Noah, God speaks to us through various ways, and we are plagued with making choices that will bring us closer to him, despite our selfish natures and inability to commune with God fully. Even if God did descend and tell us specifically each and every choice we ought to make, that would not necessarily make things easier, but in fact cause us to blatantly disobey his direct command.

    God is just. But he is merciful. And I cling to that mercy with every choice I make.

    O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

  2. What I liked about the movie as that love triumphed in the end.

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