As we move through Lent, one of the themes that is very present is the need for relationship. Whether that is with other people or with God, developing and trusting that relationship is central and crucial to developing faith. That is why I find movies like Noah and others like it to be so difficult to watch.
Now I have to say, first and foremost, that I think that had this not had a biblical theme, I doubt it would have made much of a splash. The acting was OK, and many of the effects really reminded me of what one of my youth 13 years ago said to me when I was putting together my first church website “Just because you can have cool effects, does not mean it should.” Unfortunately, the pornographic violence, with which Hollywood is overly obsessed, missed the real struggle in the relationship between Noah and God. In fact, missing that relationship, the conversations, and Noah’s unmistakable righteousness takes the story down a very different path than its purpose within the book of Genesis. Granted, this is merely supposed to be entertainment, though they are marketing it to churches.
After seeing it, though I do not condone banning any movie or book, I can understand why many Muslim and some Christian countries are banning it. Not only does it paint a Biblical leader in a very different reality than what the Bible teaches, but also it misses crucial teachings. One of the biggest pieces it misses is the covenant relationship, partially this is a recognition from God that this will never happen again, but also a promise on our mortal side to follow and keep the faith. Something we continually forget!
Unfortunately, for much of Christianity this is the problem. We forget that the covenants between God and humanity are two-sided, and though God seems to always keep his side, we continually turn away, seeking to please ourselves or design a religion that suits our own self-interest.
Many who seek churches and spirituality do so under the pretenses of humanistic goals. Many churches are established to serve people’s needs, wants and desires rather than doing whatever is possible to cultivate and nurture the faith. Fortunately, we have the ability, as a congregation, to be a witness to something more. We can teach faithfulness and walk alongside people who are seeking. Share with them the love of God and show them new ways.
Noah, the movie, is entertainment, and should be taken as such. As Christians, it does make our job harder to teach the love and passion God has for all of mankind and further God’s call for us all to be in relationship with him and each other, building up the community of God.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen