"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time, and Noah walked with God."
Genesis 6: 8-9
A few years ago, when my husband and I found out we were having a son, we began discussing names. I wanted something different and trendy: a name that would sound really cool when they announced it during kindergarten graduation. My husband wanted something classic, masculine: a name that would look respectable on a business card one day. We debated. We made lists. We argued. I cried. And then one day, I asked, "what about Noah?" My husband looked me in the eyes and said, "I like it." We researched the name Noah and found that it meant "comforter", "wanderer", "peaceful". In the Bible, we found the above mentioned verses and also found references to Noah being obedient to God's commands (Genesis 6:22, 7:5), faithful (Hebrews 11:7), reverent to the LORD (Hebrews 11:7), an "heir to the righteousness" of God (Hebrews 11:7). That was enough for us! We decided we would name our first born son, Noah, and began praying that his heart, like that of the biblical Noah's, would be an obedient one that was faithful to the LORD.
So, I admit, I am partial to that name: I loved it before Pottery Barn did!! And I was intrigued by the idea that Hollywood was producing a movie about Noah and the Great Flood. Russell Crowe is an amazing actor and I adored Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in the world of Harry Potter. (*See I am cool--I watch movies about witches and wizards!!*) And so, I naively thought this movie would be along the lines of the biblical account and maybe have the same appeal to Christian audiences as Mel Gibson's, 'The Passion of The Christ'. I thought perhaps that this movie might serve as a catalyst for some sort of spiritual revival in America (and around the world) that could begin with Hollywood, a place known by many as a breeding ground for those who seek happiness and joy by being different, secular, alternative thinkers. I considered the irony that the LORD might choose to use a Hollywood cinematic production directed by a non-believing, self-proclaimed atheist, ethnic Jew to change hearts and save souls. After all, the Bible tells us stories about how God used pagans and non-believers to bring about His will and transform lives and times--think King Nebuchadnezzar. I loved the idea that a movie adaption of the biblical story of how God sustained mankind could be used to usher in and bring about the salvation of countless people around the modern world. How perfect, how timeless, how miraculous!! If one life was changed or one soul saved by attending this movie, it would be worth it!! In my mind's eye, I imagined movie-goers leaving the theater in conversation about the story of Noah and the Word of God and how those conversations would be amazing beginnings to some incredible testimonies. I thought that I might actually go see this movie.
I thought wrong.
In the Bible, Noah is portrayed as a man of God. He was a righteous man that obeyed the commands of an Almighty Father without demanding evidence of the impeding flood or having all the answers pertaining to his families' survival. He was an outcast in a fallen society. He was ridiculed and heckled as he labored to complete the Ark according to the LORD's design and timeline. He lost everything (except his life and family) because he chose to cast aside his attachment to this world and its humanity and fix his eyes on things eternal. The story of Noah and his obedience is special and sacred to Jews and Christians all around the world. Noah is a patriachial hero, imperfect, but absolutely a pillar of our amazing faith. So, yes, I am slightly offended by the movie's director, Darren Aronofsky, weaving a vastly different, non-biblical story. Not so offended that I think the movie should be banned or that Christians should picket outside of the theaters showing the film. Mr. Aronofsky has every right to make whatever movie he chooses and depict his characters however he deems worthy. He has every right to interpret the account of Noah's life and the Great Flood as literally or as loosely as he would like. He is free to present his product, just as we are free to reject it. We are free to avoid watching the movie or renting it in the future. We are free to write critical reviews on Facebook and Twitter and dissuade our friends and family from contributing to its box office success.
Christians need to simply accept that this movie isn't about our Noah. This movie is a twisted-tale of environmentalism, evolution, and human survival created in the mind of someone interested in the story of Noah from the Bible but completely unconvinced of its authenticity. This movie is for entertainment not evangelism. Noah's claim to fame was not that he was the first environmentalist or original animal right's activist. He was a good steward of the land and friend of the beasts of the earth because that is what God commanded then and still commands of all believers. Noah's oral account of Creation to his sons would not have included any Darwinian evolution; it would have been the biblical account that Moses penned centuries later in Genesis chapter 1.
However, with all of that said...think of the attention this movie, this controversy, the Bible, and our LORD is currently getting!! Think of the conversations that are taking place between Christians and non-believers on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. Think of the possibilities!! This movie will undoubtedly be a box office success. Anytime there is this much hype around a movie, it is certain to bring in the bucks. Mr. Aronofsky will view the film as a success and it will most certainly help bolster his career. The actors and actresses starring in the movie will get the pleasure of fleeting fame and increased monetary success. And in true Hollywood fashion, I am going ahead and predicting an Oscar for Best Picture/Best Director/Best Actor next year!! I can just hear the acceptance speeches now!!
The movie 'Noah' is not about our man. This film does not define or reflect our faith as Christians. It doesn't represent what we believe or tell the story we hold so dear. It is simply a plagiarist attempt to secularize a covenant and relationship much higher, much greater and much more holy than anything the misguided people involved with its creation can imagine. The LORD made a covenant with Noah after the flood waters receded: a covenant to never again destroy mankind and the beasts of the earth with water. I hold firmly to the promise, represented by the rainbow, that the LORD loves and adores humankind. But clearly He leaves open the option to judge us once again. And the next time judgment rains down on earth, some of humanity will be wishing for water.