Confusion. Wickedness. Violence. Death. New Life. All the things you would expect from any film realistically based on anything that happens in this world. But there are few stories that describe the human condition and its consequences quite like those in the Bible. Lies. Rape. Murder. The very vilest acts conceivable. And redemption more beautiful than you would think possible.
It is to that world, primitive though not totally unlike our world today, that we are introduced in “Noah,” the big-budget film starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. And without going into too much analysis, or dropping spoilers (in case you don’t already know the ending), I just want to express what I took away from the movie. For someone who has read and heard stories from the Bible since my earliest memories, it gave me a fresh look at a story I have encountered countless times in my life. In short, I appreciated the imagination the movie brought to an already intriguing and fascinating story.
I do not believe anyone could read the story of Noah, or most of the stories in the Bible for that matter, and not have questions. What questions arise when one reads the story of Noah?
What does it mean that Noah was righteous?
How did God speak to Noah?
How did Noah possibly build a boat that big with just him and his sons?
Wasn’t there anyone who opposed Noah during the building process?
How did all the animals get on the ark?
How did they care for all the animals on the ark?
What must it have been like to hear people dying outside the ark?
To me, the movie was the result of Hollywood filmmakers taking a story that already has so many unanswered questions, and using their imaginations to posit answers to those questions. To be sure, not all or even many of those involved with the story have an Evangelical Christian worldview, which is why there were so many elements of the movie that did not look like the traditional ideas taught by countless Sunday School teachers, and thereby angered many Christians.
Sadly, I think many times we Christians lose our sense of wonder, our sense of how truly mysterious are the stories of the BIble. I have often been guilty of this. Maybe it is because we have become too familiar with these stories. Maybe we have not allowed ourselves to really sit with some of the hard questions about these stories. Maybe we do not like to feel like we don’t have answers. Maybe we find it hard to reconcile the God of mercy and jealous anger, the God of compassion and judgement. It seems we often settle for lame responses to profound queries, or we just resort to saying things like, “Well, God is God and He could figure it out.”
Many times, it is this lack of inquisitiveness that causes skeptics to doubt even more. And if you don’t believe non-Christians have reason to mock Christians’ lack of imagination, just check out this video.
What I want to say, to my fellow Christians and to myself, is this: “Don’t be afraid to have some imagination.” These stories in our holy book–what we call the Word of God–are truly amazing, and we cannot allow ourselves to lose the awe, not just in the events recounted, but in the God who orchestrated them. We may never know the answers to the countless questions we have, but that should not stop us from asking them, from wondering.
We should not be mad about this movie. We should embrace what it has to say to us, the way it brings fresh perspective to the story. We should be moved by a film in which “The Creator” is a central figure to the story. We ought to glory in the God who gave us these stories, in order to teach us and show us a glimpse of who He is.
So, did you see it? What did you think?