Posts Tagged ‘noah’

The trouble with approaching a familiar narrative is that we have convinced ourselves that we know the story.  That its lessons and implications are known.  That we have already gleaned its treasure.  This is a risk that some of us take when we read the Noah narrative.

It is easy to think that this is a text about an ark or a flood.  Yet, the text is telling us something more.  The more time we spend here the more we realize that this text is about the relationship between God and creation.  This relationship is in crisis.  The text says that God is grieved.  The wickedness that is in creation has an impact on the Creator.  And so, He enters the pain and fracture of this world.

We can fool ourselves into thinking that God stands outside the story sending His wrath, but this is a story about the pain God feels for a wayward creation.  In this context, we find Noah.  Noah is introduced as son of Lamech, one who will bring comfort.  In the midst of wickedness and evil human intentions, Noah is righteous, blameless, and walks with God.  The narrative announces with confidence that faithfulness is possible even in a wicked world.

After forty days of rain and one hundred fifty days of water covering the earth there is possibility of feeling forgotten.  But, “God remembered Noah…”  This is an issue that cannot be overlooked.  Each one of us knows what it is like to be forgotten.  In this narrative, all of creation may feel forgotten.  But “God remembered Noah.”  Walter Brueggemann implies that this is Gospel.  The flood appears to destroy everything except the commitment of the Creator to His covenant partner.  Brueggemann goes so far as to suggest that God is preoccupied with His creation.

Following the flood, we still find that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  And we still find that humans are created in the image of God.  Yet, not everything remains the same.  Genesis wants us to know that this relationship between God and creation has changed.  Namely, we receive a promise and a sign that God will never destroy the earth like this again.

Creation has not changed.  You could say we are all in the same boat. Hopelessness remains.  Humans rebel against the purpose of God.  Any chance of hope depends on God.  Genesis brings good news!  God keeps His covenant with creation.  Human rebellion does not ruin His plan.  A grieving God will have unlimited patience with a rebellious world.  This is Good News because we are not capable of saving ourselves.


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I admit that I am late to the party, but have finally watched the movie Noah.  I have heard a great deal of criticism about the film, usually about details that contradict with the Genesis account.  The critics are right; there is much that does not agree with Genesis. For myself, I could have done without a stowaway on the ark and a Noah who borders on insanity as he misinterprets the intent of the Creator. I haven’t decided whether the “watchers” bring a comical or a supernatural element.

I can’t help but think about another version of the Noah story that contradicts with Genesis.  For years, we have painted animals two by two on nursery walls and blankets and children’s toys.  We seem to be ok with trying to convince our children that this is a feel good story.  The fact is, we can decorate the nursery with a Noah theme but that does not eliminate the disaster of the flood.  If I have to choose, I think the film is closer to what Genesis is talking about.

I am glad that it was released and that I had the opportunity to watch it.  Most of us who watch movies enjoy strong acting and this one has Anthony Hopkins who plays a strong, imaginative Methuselah.  Bravo Hopkins!  I also was glad that the movie portrayed a Creator who refuses to be domesticated.  It allows us to bring Genesis and more importantly the God of Genesis into conversation with people who otherwise may not have been interested in such talk.

Perhaps a thank you is in order to Hollywood for providing opportunities we otherwise would not have had. Should we be shocked that Hollywood grabbed a story from the Old Testament?  Can we fault them?  After all, the Old Testament is far more interesting than the stuff we usually see on the big screen.  For that matter, it is far more interesting than nearly anything labeled as entertainment.  Seriously, have you seen what the industry has been trying to pass off as entertaining?

It is sometimes easy to forget why Hollywood makes movies.  They are entertainers, even more, they want to make money.  They probably choose a story like Noah because it is familiar to many who they think might be interested in buying a ticket to the theater.  They do not mind when we protest our disagreement with the way Genesis or God is portrayed.  They probably enjoy it, thinking of our protests as free publicity for the movie.

I enjoyed the creative portrayal of the way that the Creator works.  I was fascinated by the miraculous way that a flower grows, a forest grows, animals arrive at the ark, and the rains come.  I enjoyed the oral presentation of the creation story as told by Noah.

As I mentioned above, there are a number of things that I wish were portrayed differently in the movie.  But, even more, I wish that we would respond differently to mainstream attempts to tell our stories.  Why do we get so worked up when Hollywood doesn’t tell our stories correctly?  Do we seriously expect them to?  What are our expectations?  That Hollywood should tell our stories for us?  When did we pass off this responsibility?  Talk about abdicating our calling.  Instead of criticizing the movie industry would it make more sense to be participating in the conversation in more faithful ways?

I wonder if our frustration in these situations isn’t actually a self-indictment.  Are we frustrated that we have not been effective at telling our own stories? Here is one guy hoping that Hollywood continues to put out movies featuring the biblical stories.  I hear that a movie about Exodus is on the way.  I am anxious to engage in the conversation.

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