The Noah movie

I had to see “Noah” after hearing that so many Christians are upset that it’s non-Biblical, there’s rock people, it’s so far fetched, etc. The rock people sealed it for me. I had to go. And I’m so glad I did.

The first thing I thought when I walked out of the theater was: “Those who are taking this movie that seriously are too tightly wound.” The Noah movie takes full advantage of the gaps in the actual Noah story. And there is nothing wrong with that. Films have license to do just that.

This movie has nothing to do with personal conviction or evangelization. It takes you on a journey through the fantastic via the mind of the artist who created the film. Like all artists, there is freedom to explore and venture into the abstract. The film, for me, was like an impressionist or abstract painting. So much is skewed from reality, but with a beauty and intrigue that is meant to allow you to discover what it means to you.

Above all, it succeeds in being exactly what a film is primarily supposed to be – entertaining. The rock people and their story are part of the overall creativity of the artist’s craft. I mean, come on….you can’t really think there is anyone out there who doubts God’s existence or the story of Noah because of the portrayal of talking rock people. Rather, they add so much to film, and you can’t help thinking, at some point, that you are in a Lord of the Rings type fantasy.

Why is it people still don’t understand that movies are first and foremost entertainment? People don’t watch movies as their source of education or example when it comes to the the Faith. If a movie happens to do this within the context of the primary success of great filmmaking, then it will be effective. I do believe that movies have the power to educate and evangelize. But not at the expense of the art. If a movie is poorly made, then it’s a bad movie which will be ineffective with any message. Just because a movie is specifically for Catholics or has an important Christian message, that cannot excuse poor production. For example, the movie “Therese” was poorly made in every way. I couldn’t recommend it to anyone, even though the content is factual and accurate.

Take “The Passion of the Christ”. The film is an artistic masterpiece. That’s why it was an enormous success. Mel Gibson wanted to present an accurate portrayal of the events and the personal suffering and death of Jesus Christ – and he did so with brilliant filmmaking at every level.

“The Passion” is also loosely based on a true story. Granted, “Noah” takes much more artistic license than “The Passion.” but many things presented in “The Passion” are from the mind of Mel Gibson and the other writers involved, not factual representation. Though I might personally subscribe to many things portrayed in “The Passion”, I can’t go around saying that it represents the facts of the story. Much of it is conjecture is based on the personal interpretation and devotion of the filmmaker.

Though these two films admittedly have two very different purposes behind them, they are both primarily artistic expression from highly talented filmmakers taking a good deal of artistic license. They are the results of master craftsman, not Church authorities or theologians. Ironically, the mostly theologically sound dialogue in “Noah” comes from the character portrayed as the king of the sinful people who will be washed away in the flood. He talks to Noah’s son, Ham, about how the purpose of all creation was to serve man because man was created in God’s image. Unfortunately, he desires to abuse that reality, forgetting that man was also called by God to be the steward of all creation, which comes with great responsibility.

I have two favorite parts of the movie. One is how all the creatures come to the ark and how they dwell in it. Very mesmerizing. The second is when Noah tells his family the story of creation as his fathers told him. This sequence is absolutely beautiful to watch and experience, and makes the film worth the price of admission. Again, the work of an artist, being viewed as a work of art.

I think that Noah’s actions, as the impending flood is approaching and through to the end of the film, are the most controversial aspects of the film. Great license is taken here. But I applaud the writers for their insights and creativity. Without giving it away, I will just say that I found myself wondering what temptations the real Noah must have gone through during this whole ordeal. The film portrays Noah as a completely obedient man of God, much like Abraham, willing to go as far as slaughtering your own child because it’s God’s will. The writers of the film clearly present their idea of what might have transpired. It’s disturbing and absolutely intriguing at the same time. Each of the other family members respond to Noah with just as much intrigue.

Go see it for yourself before it leaves the theater (it’s definitely a movie that has to be seen on the big screen). I believe that this film will have many people considering the beauty and reality of a Creator (which is a heavy theme of this film) and going to the Bible curious as to what the story of Noah actually says. Perhaps there actually are those who will look to find out if the rocks came to the aid of Noah.

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The sublime wedding gifts of the Magi

Epiphany is the great feast of the three wise men from the east who followed a star to find the newborn king of the Jews and pay him homage.

They are magi, which basically means a group of astrologers.  Magi is the plural of the Latin word “magus,” which has to do with the science of studying the stars, traditionally known as “Astrology.”  We get the English word “magic” from “Magi.”

St. Matthew does not give us the names of these wise men, nor are we told how many there are and that they are kings.  These kinds of things come to us through Sacred Tradition.  It is Sacred Tradition that provides us with many insights into the meaning of Biblical events that are not verbalized specifically in the Bible.

One such insight is what I am interested in talking about today.  In today’s Divine Office readings, we hear that “the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding” and “today you reveal to men of faith the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.”

Two facts:  The revelation of God becoming man, and the recognition of this event being a wedding; namely, the marriage of divinity with humanity.  Once God commits to taking on a human nature through the second Person of the Holy Trinity, it is once and for all, and can never be broken.  Thus, a wedding of two natures.

It’s very difficult to think about Christmas in terms of a wedding, and for many good reasons.  But a wedding it is. And without recognizing the significance of the marriage of God and man in the nativity scene, you don’t have the fullness of Christmas.

I personally love the gift giving component of Christmas.  I don’t even really mind how seemingly out of hand gift giving has become at Christmas time.  I certainly would rather have an exaggeration of gift giving than for it to go away entirely.  Gift giving is a central component of Christmas, and not because of Santa Claus or St. Nicholas giving gifts to children.  In my view, it’s because of the gifts brought to the child Jesus by the wise men.

And their gifts are quite extravagant to any outsider looking in.  What is a baby to do with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh?  I guess Joseph can sell the gold and they will no longer be in poverty.  And maybe burn the frankincense in the home for a nice fragrance.  And I guess you could use the myrrh on cuts and bruises.

I think we all know that these gifts are symbolic of what the Child in the stable represents.  Gold because He’s a king, frankincense and myrrh because He is divine (both traditionally used in religious worship).

But these gifts of the Magi are not because a baby was born.  They are not baby shower gifts.  They are wedding gifts because of the significance of “who” this baby is by nature, and what he is to accomplish because of this wedding day.  They are appropriate gifts for giving homage to the one true king and divinity.  Why else would they prostrate themselves before the Child?  This is an action done in worship only.

The magi have an insight to what has happened that those without faith cannot see.  A wedding has taken place, the greatest of weddings.  A marriage that will last forever, and will accomplish the greatest gift of all.

They recognize this event through their study of the stars.  They recognize the star as being the sign of the newborn king of the Jews.  They set out with the specific purpose of giving him homage.

So what did the newborn king of the Jews mean to these men of the east?  Why such a journey to pay such homage?  Because they were aware that they birth of the king of the Jews was the Christ, the saviour of the world.

King Herod had this same faith.  He knew one day the Christ would be born.  He acts sincerely interested in paying homage too, but only uses the magi for information.
But Herod misses the significance of Christ’s birth.  He sees it as a child who will grow up to dethrone him.

The magi understand the fullness of Christ’s birth, and why His birth is a wedding, and why it is right for them to journey so far to celebrate.  No more is God way up there and man alone down here.  God and man are united in communion via the incarnation, and the Christ child will one day marry His bride, the Church on the cross, for the salvation of the world.

The union of God and man is a permanent one.  This is by definition what marriage is, two becoming one.  But this marriage does not end at death in this world, like marriage between two human beings.  This marriage of the divine and human nature in the Person of Christ goes on forever.

God loves us so much that He became man so man could become like God.  It’s love that unites.  It’s love that makes Christmas so special.  And it’s the presentation of gifts that symbolizes the gift of union with the ones we love.

Christ is the Prince of Peace.  His mission is the restoration of peace between God and man. It is the gift available to all of us at Christmas, and all year round.

Ultimately, we all must journey to Bethlehem following the star every Christmas asking as the magi did, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”  What gift do you have to present to the Christ Child at this royal wedding?

Why “6 stone jars?”

I thought I would start out the first entry of my blog by explaining why I chose “6 Stone Jars” as the name. My work is all about Christian marriage. Most of my work is in helping single Catholics who have the vocation to marriage, those who know or work with single Catholics, but extends into marriage preparation and helping married persons within their vocation. Utlimately, I am about wanting solid, happy, lifetime marriages that will bring Christ into their families, communities and society. The blog name comes from a scene in the Gospel of St. John that accounts the Wedding Feast of Cana:

Miracle at Cana – Jn 2:1-11

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone jars set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.