If you go to see the new Noah movie expecting to see a dutiful and faithful retelling of the exact story-line in Genesis, you will be
disappointed. And apparently many Christians are not just disappointed, but angry, at the creative liberties taken with the story in this movie.
But if you want to engage the themes and deep questions of humanity that the flood narrative addresses, then this movie will make you think about those questions all over again.
Questions like, “Can humanity be saved?”, “Can the world God has created and we have messed up royally be saved?”, “Is it possible to start over?”
And the final question, which I think is at the heart of all our anxieties, “Is God good?”
the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”
The sons of Seth, as opposed to the sons of Cain, have remained faithful to the Creator and live peaceful lives at harmony with nature.
As you might imagine, living this way in a world taken over by the sons of Cain is not easy and Noah and his family are the only remnant left from the sons of Seth. And as it says in Scripture, “But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.” (Gen. 6:8)
In the movie, and for most of us in life, it’s not all that clear right away to Noah just what he is supposed to do and why.
And this, to me, is the most important theme of the movie and where church groups can get some really good discussion going after viewing this movie.
“How do we know what God is calling us to do? And what if we get it wrong?”
This is what happens when we are sure we know what God wants and refuse to consider any other possibilities. Or listen to anyone else’s ideas about what God is saying.
Noah thinks he is the only one who knows what God wants and this is very dangerous.
This alone is a sign of a good movie, to get me so engaged.
What also made me angry was how little power the women in the movie had. And that is certainly true to scripture. It is the women who suffer the most from Noah getting it wrong.
And this is the history of the world. Men thinking they know
what God wants and women being the ones who suffer for it.
wrong and I think without reflection, movie goers could get it wrong as well.
This can be a terrifying realization, as it was for Noah. But it only need be a terrifying realization if you think it is our goodness that will save us.
It is not our goodness that will save us.
It is God’s goodness that will save us. And so humanity gets a new
chance after the flood. And they will screw it up. As we screw up the new chances we get.
For Christians, only the events we are preparing to observe and celebrate during Holy Week and Easter will break that cycle.
The Flood, which is always retold during the Easter vigil, is only part of the story. The story continues when God enters this fallen world we have messed up and gotten so terribly wrong. The story continues when God takes on evil on its own terms and wins.
The good news is that we are saved by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA