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 Vow: a story of true love

About a month ago, I went to see the movie “The Vow” fully prepared for it to be an overall disappointment.  It certainly delivered, except for one scene that actually makes the movie worth seeing. The mother tells her upset daughter that she stayed with her husband after learning of his lengthy affair because she decided she was not going to punish him for his one mistake. She stayed with him because of all the things he did right, not the one thing he did wrong.

It was this powerful moment where marriage was defended with such heroism that inspired me to want to get the book written by the real couple to learn more.  Unfortunately, this situation never actually happened.  It turns out the real parents of the daughter were always happily married.

But I’m so glad I got the book and read the true story. What I discovered was an even greater defense of marriage.

First, this is a true story that’s hard for any of us to imagine.  Two months after Kim and Krickett Carpenter are married, Krickett is injured in a car accident that causes the loss of her memory to the point of not knowing who Kim is.  She has no recollection of their relationship at all.

Talk about never knowing what can happen. All single people and dating couples think they have the luxury of planning out their married lives.  But life is unpredictable, and God often has other plans.

Imagine having to approach life as a married woman with a man you do not know at all.  Imagine trying to live your married life with a woman who doesn’t know you, doesn’t want you, and doesn’t remember marrying you.

For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  These are the vows said at the wedding ceremony.  But that can’t apply to this situation, right?  The woman has no memory of you, and wants nothing to do with you.  You can’t force her to live out marriage with you.  Why stay?  She’s fine with you leaving.

Sadly, this is where many people get it wrong about the words of their vow and what their ultimate responsibility is.  Probably without knowing it, too many people enter into marriage with their own definition of what the words said in the vows mean, and put conditions on how far they will go in living such things as loving another through difficult situations.

Perhaps instead of vows, people would prefer a long contract that clearly defines terms and conditions.  “I will love you in sicknesses such as the common cold, the flu, broken limbs, fatal diseases; excluding such sicknesses as memory loss, depression, and addictions.”

Perhaps people want guarantees in this contract.  “I promise never to have anything happen to me that would change our standard of living or make you have to work.  I promise to never to lose my job, burn the dinner, allow the lawn to grow past three inches.  I promise never to change in any way that displeases you or make you unhappy.”

Sounds funny to have these kinds of conditions.  But for many people, love is conditional on these kinds of things.

Every couple says the same vows, but not every couple accepts the words at their fullest meaning and to their farthest extent.  Every couple has plans for their married life, but not every couple is willing to accept a disruption to those plans.

Kim and Krickett Carpenter enter their marriage with love and commitment. In both the film and in the true story, Kim Carpenter says he made a vow, and he loves her regardless.  She is his wife.  He promised to love her, even if she doesn’t love him.

Kim’s faith keeps him committed to the wife he loves and confident that God will work it out somehow, even when he felt he should let Krickett go and end the marriage.  Even more remarkable is that Krickett has complete recollection of God and her faith in Him.  She can’t remember anything about Kim, but her Christianity is in tact.  That goes to show that Christianity does not stem from the brain, but from the soul.

I couldn’t help but think how this could very well make the difference for a successful marriage.  It’s a matter of having the true faith rooted in the very being of person, and solidified through growth in truth and love for Christ.  Perhaps it is lack of Christian faith that makes one or both end a marriage.

Whatever it was, the story of Kim and Krickett Carpenter is remarkable in that they stayed together.  They did not have a marriage to build onto from Krickett’s view.  It was not romantic love full of deep feeling and friendship.  It was an act of the will based on circumstances that seemed obviously God-directed. Krickett realized that God allowed her to marry Kim for a reason, and that it was worth her being open to him.  They both started a new relationship and fell in love again, creating new memories and a new, renewed, commitment.

A new relationship.  That’s how you do it if there are no other options and you want to make it work.  The Carpenters both sincerely wanted it to work somehow, but could not find a way to make the old marriage work.  They made a new relationship because they believed in their marriage.  Most failing marriages don’t undergo such an extreme situation, but they have the same choice presented; namely, to make it work or end it.  Scrap the old relationship because it doesn’t work.  Establish a new relationship. Fall in love all over again.

Love can develop between two people who want it.  Love can grow between two people who see God’s will.  It can be the hard and rough road, but the pay off can be immeasurable.  Their relationship proves what it means to be “Christ-centered” both at the personal and the relationship level.  True Christians understand how God works.  They don’t want to run from His will, but rather run toward Him.