Noah, the Film – All Washed Up

The pre-release advertising promoting the movie Noah made a point of stating that while the director took artistic license in the production it was still faithful to the biblical story. Early theater previews were carefully edited to appeal to people of faith, but this is the least biblical “biblical film” of all time! However, to be charitable, the bare outline of the Flood story is present, but after that artistic license has taken the film so far afield of anything resembling the Bible that it is offensive to people of faith.

To say that the biblical story was watered down (pardon the pun) is much too mild. Those who know the Bible were aware of how little the script followed Scripture. Those who didn’t know the Bible still didn’t know it when the final credits appeared. It is to the movie studio’s credit that they chose to even make a film with a biblical theme, but the torturous fiction that was the final cut partly written and directed by an atheist is a discredit to both the studio and the actors and is, in result, worse than having not made it at all.

Remember the old adage of making a bottle of poison look nicer by removing the ugly skull and crossbones label and replacing it with one that read “essence of peppermint?” The bottle now looks pretty, but is even more deadly because of its deceptive label. To a generation that already rejects the Genesis account as pure fiction, mixing a little Bible with a film of impure fiction is even worse – and certainly more dangerous to faith. For those who have not seen the movie and may think my judgments too harsh, please consider the following.

The film presents the sole purpose of Noah and the Ark as the preservation of the innocent animals. The pre-Flood world is portrayed as barren and denuded as the result of human corruption. What could be more evil and deserving of judgment in ecologically-minded Hollywood? Therefore, as Noah interprets God’s purpose, mankind – all of mankind, including Noah and his family – are supposed to die so the new world can continue with only an innocent animal population.

The Ark has nothing to do with the salvation of mankind, but with its punishment. Noah was only chosen to save the animals, and he is so intent on fulfilling his task to see humanity destroyed that he announces to his family on the Ark that they must all die, for “the Creation is only safe when mankind is dead.” For this reason, when Noah learns that Shem’s wife is pregnant, he declares that he will murder her baby, if it is a girl, as soon as it is born!

The ensuing drama aboard the Ark has Mrs. Noah trying to help her expectant kids escape, a crazed Noah stalking his newly born twin granddaughters, and Shem and Ham trying to kill their father (especially after he sets fire to the couple’s escape raft). Add to the drama the evil meat-eating king of the old world, Tubal-Cain, who sneaked on board and remained hidden throughout the voyage, only to finally die in a knife fight with Noah when the Ark lands and breaks in two.

In the end, Noah spares his family because of “love.” Mankind is not so bad after all, for as Mrs. Noah explains, “all the heart needs is love to be good.” God, who has remained silent through the drama on the Ark, despite Noah’s pleas for divine guidance, is shown to have stayed away because, as Noah’s adopted Cainite daughter (the wife of Shem who had been miraculously cured of bareness by a healing touch from Methuselah) states, God wanted to let Noah chose whether mankind should live or not. So, in spite of the ecological hype, it is about humanism in the end. The film closes with newly sober Noah brandishing his snake-skin phylactery (a relic from the serpent in the Garden of Eden) and telling his kids to be “fruitful and multiply” as a rainbow appears (sans the Noahic covenant).

Yet this summary reflects the best part of the film. To get the real flavor of the added fiction one must consider the four-armed giant rock men, who are actually imprisoned fallen angels (“Watchers”) created on the second day to help mankind and aid Noah by building the Ark. For their good works they get redeemed and taken to heaven (and their wings restored) in explosive shafts of light as the rain starts to fall, but only after slaughtering the masses of mankind who were trying to kill Noah and take over the Ark.

At the same time Methuselah eats a berry and is killed in the first wave of water from the Flood (he did die in the same year that the Flood occurred, but not as a result of the Flood). On board the Ark Noah’s family pleads with him to let in the screaming people scratching on the door of the Ark because “there is room,” but Noah as judge and jury says there is no room for such people, and then follows this with the aforementioned announcement to those on the Ark that God wants all of them dead as well.

If you ever wondered where the wood for the Ark came from, the film depicts a whole forest magically growing up around Noah’s family camped at Methuselah’s mountain from a seed from the Garden of Eden that Methuselah had been keeping all this time. And as for the innocent animals, they mostly come by the thousands (same species), mostly snakes, birds, and insects (more dramatic for the special effects guys), following a magic waterway that sprang from the Edenic seed and had spread over the world.

Sadly, some species were made extinct on the Ark since Tubal-Cain kept himself alive by eating the animals on board the Ark. They were easy prey because Noah had drugged them all to sleep with sedative-laced incense. Other fictional elements include a Zohar stone that instantly bursts into flame when struck, no wives for Ham and Japeth so only six people in Noah’s family go on the Ark (though eight get off), big windows staying open during the Flood (compare Genesis 8:6) and the family running around on top of the Ark while it rides out the Deluge, and the inclusion of evolutionary development on the fifth day of Creation (which is implied in the succession of creatures and landscapes as lasting for millions of years).

The producers tried to keep these details secret from the faith-basedpublic in order to not have a backlash from negative reviews that would affect the all important opening weekend box office. I learned about some of these details last year from a French graphic novel (which I was shown in Germany) upon which the film’s script was based. As far as I know this was not translated or released to the English-speaking market, presumably to prevent these fictional elements from getting out to the faith-based American audience. Now, the secret is out and it is hoped that informed audiences will, like Noah in the film, judge this parody of the biblical account, unworthy of cinematic salvation.

Why Wright is Wrong :: by Randall Price

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright yesterday addressed the National Press Club seeking his fifteen minutes of fame. That fifteen minutes, of course, lasted more than an hour and will continue for several days as his banter is broadcast and debated on the network news and various talk shows.

Revising history, skewing theology, and demythologizing Christianity as he spoke, his most egregious moments followed his speech in his responses to prepared Press Club questions. While most of his comments have been reviewed and rebutted by figures in the national media, one of his scintillatingstatements has received no further mention. The question and answer that has been so ostracized went as follows: Question: “Reverend Wright, Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father, but through me.’ In light of that statement what do you think of the religion of Islam?” Reverend Wright: “Jesus also said, ‘Other sheep have I that are not of this fold …”

Now it is understandable why the secular media would not want to comment on such a question and response. There is no politically correct way to handle the commentary, since it would expose the usually carefully guarded (or censored) belief system of those in the public eye, except the carefully-crafted-to-be-palatable “faith” of political figures released at election time. Whether one addresses the question or the answer, criticizes or upholds it, this exposé is certain.

From an interpretation that is literal, that takes the meaning of words at their face value, these words of Jesus taken from John chapter 14 can be understood by everyone. In the context of this verse (verses 1-5) Jesus and His disciples are having a discussion about His return to heaven and Jesus’ promise to come again and take them there (to the Father’s house). When asked by one disciple how this would be possible, Jesus explains (verse 6) that He is the way (to God) because He is the truth (of God), and the life (God gives eternally) is found in Him. Therefore, the only means of access to heaven (the Father’s house) is through a relationship with Him. Whether or not they personally believed it, whoever posed this question at the Press Club understood this literal meaning.

Now we come to the Reverend Wright’s interpretation. His bravado (bolstered by his fan base in the audience) betrayed he felt he could say no wrong. Assuming the mantle of Christ in His replies to the Pharisees, he answered them with scripture, smiled the smile of the over-confident, and thought he had won the day. But the Reverend Wright could not have been more wrong. Jesus’ statement about “other sheep … not of this fold” in the context of John 10 from which the verse is taken, is made in view of His having come as the promised Shepherd of the sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-23). In this Old Testament context, the Jewish people are addressed as “My flock.” Jesus Himself explained to non-Jews that in His initial mission He had been sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). When he speaks of “other sheep” in John 10, His reference, therefore, must be to non-Jews, that is, to Gentiles, for the Bible recognizes no other distinction (compare Romans 1:16). Jesus’ mission ultimately included the good news of salvation through Him as Savior to those formerly outside of the Nation of Israel, as Paul says in Romans 1:5: “we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake …”

So how did the Reverend Wright make this text include Islam, and in particular the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakan whom he has honored? In his inclusivistic theology, which admits all but white racists andU.S. terrorists (government and military), he has room for any in all religions that are oppressed. Most white Christians (and probably black ones as well) do not understand his brand of Black Liberation Theology through whose lens the Bible is seen as a manual of wresting deserved freedoms from the despots of the world, but especially the white world. In his religion God is to be defined by the experience of the individual, and therefore the god of the oppressed is not the same as that of the oppressor. In reality, however, when native Africans were being transported in slave ships, the God recognized by the slavers was most-likely understood in terms of the Bible while the god of the slaves was most-likely understood in terms of their tribal folk religion, what the Bible calls (and condemns as) “idolatry.” John Newton, once Captain of a slave ship, confessed that his actions in the slave trade was an offense to the God of the Bible and turned for to Him for forgiveness, what he later called in his popular hymn, “amazing grace.” As a result, he was influential with William Wilberforce for having the slave trade abolished in England. No doubt some vestige of Christianity still remained in Africa at this time, even though the religion of Islam had invaded this once Christian nation and all-but eradicated the God of the Bible from the continent. It is more likely, therefore, that Islam would have influenced the religion of the slaves. At any rate, the Reverend Wright would see salvation for all who are oppressed, regardless of their own oppression of other religions.

Reverend Wright has claimed to represent the black church in his present experience of being oppressed by the national (white-controlled) media. To be sure he does not represent their collective theology, which had its origin in the Bible (whose pages are black and white, not just black) and in the traditional values that resulted from the biblical worldview that once informed our American culture. Although Reverend Wright uses words like “saved” and “filled with the Holy Ghost,” these are now only symbolic expressions from those better days before Black Liberation Theology when they had real purpose and power, as they still do for most of the black church in America. The problem for Reverend Wright is that misunderstanding the plain promise of Jesus as the only way to God, he has missed the message that truly sets his (and all other people) free. And that is why Wright is wrong.