Movie Review: Noah

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In a world that has turned from God and lives in depravity, Noah has been set apart to be the one responsible for starting the world over again. Mankind has disregarded the laws of God, turning the world into a wasteland, worshiping themselves, and living in continuous war. They eat the flesh of Animals, even though forbidden, and deserve utter destruction.

And that is exactly what The Creator provides.

We all know the bible story we grew up with, so join me in this dissecting of this fantasy Epic, inspired by the tale of Noah, interpreted by Director Darren Aronofsky. I leave my usual setup in this film, because of how difficult it was for me to categorize all the different elements. Spoilers are present, just so you know.

There are two ways to approach this film I think. One, from a desire to see an accurate biblical recounting. Two, from a perspective of understanding the world sees this as just another piece of literature- just like Narnia or Lord of the Rings. Approaching from a biblical recounting perspective, the movie is quite simply, butchered. The main elements remain- that is, the world is bad, God destroys the world, Noah is chosen to do so… And that’s about it. There are so many extra elements added, and parts stripped away that while recognizable, not accurate. This includes one of Noah’s son’s are married, the Nephilim are redeemed at the end, the vision of Noah is unclear, Methuselah has a whole role and plays a part in miracles of God, there are no dinosaurs to be found in the film, and the list goes on.  This is due to the fact much was added from the book of Enoch, which if you read the parts about Noah, are recognized there as well. Simply put, this isn’t a purely biblical adaptation. Rather, one based on numerous texts, most of which are not of the Cannon of Scripture.

The second perspective, a work of literature, goes in with several ideas concerning motives and reasons of scripture. From this perspective, again and honestly, it is a lacking adaptation. Very similar to the past film adaptations of the Narnia series. Motives and Characters are different. Core plot pieces are changed, and beings which get only one verse in scripture, get a whole deluge of backstory and explanation (the Nephilim). The don’t even quote the original work accurately in the book of genesis, but rather change it just a bit, to suit their story.

What irked me most though, was the fact they altered the Genesis tale. “In the Beginning, there was nothing.” we are told, yet the first scripture found says “In the beginning, God…” They alter many other passages, saying Adam and Eve only had three sons, and because of this, they had children with angels, who then became fallen. I was not so much bothered by additions to the story in terms of character events and processes, but was disturbed at the direct changing of scripture.

Now.

All that being said, the movie is not without benefit. In fact, the core reason of the flood- man’s depravity, remains in such a pungent way, we can’t but help imagine why in the world was God so patient? Noah understands this more than anyone, and because of that, it gives him the idea that man is not meant to repopulate the world. He lives under the mindset of Justice alone, and forgets for a time, that God is a God of Love as well. Because of this, we watch him mercilessly let a girl be trampled to death. In another terrifying moment when he is about to commit murder of two girls, he is overwhelmed by love, and realizes the error of his thinking. It shows Noah as flawed. As human. But also righteous, willing to do whatever God asks of him.

After this film, I doubt anyone will picture Noah’s ark as a cute boat bobbing up and down in the sea. This movie dispels that myth with savage and terrific destruction, or that it was undeserved. Men in the cities of Cain trade young girls for food. They murder anyone who they feel like, and law is nonexistent. When the flood starts, not only does it rain on mankind, the earth tears apart as water from the deep consume armies of men in an instant. In the ark, we hear wailings and screamings of people drowning and clinging to the last mountain peaks, then all are silenced. A terrible, truly deathly, silence.

God is never shown to be unjust in his destruction of the world. He is however, shown to be silent, almost of a Deist perspective. He communicates only through visions (that is directly from the book of Enoch BTW), and aside from that, does not speak to anyone. In the end, we are shown a beautiful interpretation of the first rainbow, and while the reason for it is not explained, the meaning is clear.

All in all, walking away from the film, I wan’t impressed. Both from a biblical perspective, but also from one seeing it as “just another film”. Were it not for the incredible acting of Russel Crow, I truly believe this film would be an incredible flop. The story isn’t completely captivating, whereby alienating the worldly viewers. The adaption is quite apart from Scripture, whereby eliminating most christians, who want to see a pure adaptation.

In the end, I hardly think your faith as a Christian will be shaken if you go and see the film. What I do know, is that this movie has spaced conversations nationwide about the True story of Noah, and gotten several people into scripture, reading the original work. This is definitely a good thing. So, I honestly don’t see this movie as a terror or abomination to the original story, nor do I see it as something we should emulate or recommend. Rather, it is what it is- A worldly adaptation of a biblical story, remaining true to the original reasons, but departing from the cannon account.

 

 

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What Makes You A Man…

Count of Monte Cristo

 

This is perhaps my favorite quote from the “Count of Monte Cristo”. Edmond Dantes is giving a toast of manhood to young Albert, and in that toast, this quote emerges. Life truly is stormy at times, and lovely in others. What will you, as a man (or a woman), do when you face trials? Will you react as a child and live in fear, complaining, and indecision? Or as a man- With courage, rejoicing, and confidence?

Just some thoughts for you today. I hope you enjoy pondering them as much as I have.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1: 2-7

 

Movie Review: Divergent

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Tris is Divergent, and in a perfect society based upon conformity, that is a deadly thing to be labeled. She can’t help it though, the simulations don’t work on her, she thinks freely, and all she wants to do is to understand who she is. She slips under the radar of choosing day, and continues as a recruit without making waves or garnering to much attention.

This works out pretty well for her. She settles in well with the faction she choose, until she figures out with some other new recruits, and her new boyfriend, that there is a leader who is seeking to destroy those who they deem dangerous to the society they live in. The Divergents. Divergents can’t be controlled, so they must be destroyed. After all, free thinkers are dangerous creatures, why in the world should they be allowed to live in a society where such thinking is forbidden?

Things I Liked

Tris is the heroine of this tale. Young, innocent, and unassuming, we watch her grow from a scared girl to a decisive woman through the length of this first part of a three part series. She, being divergent, struggles with the fact that she wants to do bad things, but knows she shouldn’t. She feels something isn’t right with the way society is, but can’t place it just yet. She risks her life for the love of other in some places of the movie, yet refuses to forgive another after they did a terrible wrong. She’s human, and we may not understand her, but we root for her to make the right choices, and watch her suffer for the wrong ones.

Four, Tris’ Trainer and becomes a boyfriend, also is a character of worth. He is reserved and soft spoken, wise, and dangerous. He is also selfless and humble. We learn he choose to serve as a teacher, rather than become a leader of his faction. We see him give up glory to another where he could have had it, and talks about courage being of character, not of physical skill. He is a person to look up to, and respect, which he does as a teacher, but also in his relationship with Tris.

Tris’ parents are also of note. They tell Tris no matter what she chooses, they will still love her. Later, both parents defend Tris and her friends from danger, and also fight against the terrible acts being done in the city. They are rare examples of beautiful, shining, near perfect examples of selfless love

Human nature is not prettied up, nor excused in this movie. Rather, it is human nature that is blamed in Divergent for all the problems in society. Ironically, the faction of selflessness, is the one which is the most commendable, yet also the most persecuted. Denying selflessness is denying almost everything else in human nature. The faction also yields the most divergents, which provides an interesting, possible parallel to a certain Faith I, and others hold.

Things I Didn’t Like

Peace is what man supposedly desires, war is what humanity yields. One faction winds up betraying another, and this yields in a virtual genocide of people. Unarmed men, women, and children are lined up to be shot, reminiscent of the holocaust videos we’ve seen. Individual people who run or are found to be divergent are shot as well. What is worse however, is the murderers are not aware of what they are doing. When they wake, they are torn apart with grief realizing what they did. A person commits suicide. There are also various fighting matches setup as part as Tris’ training. A guy is shot in the crotch with a stun gun.

Four and Tris do Kiss passionately for a good thirty seconds in one scene. We also see in Tris’ fear landscape simulation, she is afraid of Four “Having his way with her”, she gets out of it without anything explicit, but we understand her fear perfectly. Tris’ faction also has co-ed dorms, with no privacy of showers of bathrooms. This results in some inappropriate comments from some other recruits. Catcalls are made when Tris removes her sweater.

Triss, and some other Dauntless initiates go and get tattoos. We see numerous ink stained people, and Triss gets a symbolic raven tattoo on her upper chest. All Dauntless have piercings or tattoos of some sort.

God’s name is used in vain six times, the “a” word is used twice, and Tris’ is called a B—-h

Other Things to be Aware Of

There is a capture the flag game as part of Tris’ training as a new recruit. In the book, it was paintball. Here in the movie, we find stun guns which fire rounds the simulate real pain. No permanent damage is done to anyone, but we see many fall over because of the rounds.

Closing Thoughts

I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest. I have the most trouble being kind.
~Four~

In the current world of teen fiction, this one fits right in among the current status and writing types. Teen Hero? Check. Dystopian Society? Check. Romantic involvement? Check. The benefit of that though, or detriment- depending on your position, is how our culture is currently gobbling up this novel and now the film release to accompany it. I read the book before seeing this movie, so many points that I make are based off not only the film, but the understanding of the book as well.

Divergent focuses yet again, on how to maintain peace in a war stricken society. The solution of Five Factions worked for a hundred years, but like all plans of man, they failed. Tris, Four, and others of the Divergent demonstrate just how fragile a society based on works is. Unlike other teen novels/films of late though, this one gets it right in the diagnosis of the core problem.

It is said many times that Human Nature is the cause for all the problems of the world. It is human nature to lie, so they created Candor. It is human nature to be afraid- so the created Dauntless. It is human nature to fight- so they created Amity. It is human nature to be foolish- so they created Erudite. And above all, it is human nature to be selfish- so they created Abnegation (Or selflessness). Each faction denies a person a piece of innate human nature, and we see people fight against it throughout the film.

Those who fail, are the ones who cause the tragedy found in the movie. And that’s where they leave us in the first of these three films. Divergent is different. Not because of the creative story, but because of the basic understanding of man presented. The understanding that we don’t just have to fight to remain at peace with others, but we have to deny ourselves in our selfish sins of fear, deceit, foolishness, and contentiousness.

We explore this world through Tris, who isn’t good and she knows it, but strives to be so anyway. This results in a tale which provides a solid story, an engaging set of characters, and incredible sacrifice. It will be interesting to see how Divergent is redeemed in the end, but for now, I believe this is a film which is to be commended and recommended with tact, keeping in mind the tragic content contained therein.

The Depth of Gandalf’s Sacrifice

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*Lord of the Rings Spoiler Alert- if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, know there are spoilers below.*

I’m going geeky on you guys today. Lord of The Rings style, focusing on perhaps the most memorable scene from “The Fellowship Of The Ring”. Gandalf is one of my favorite characters in the books for various reasons, but perhaps the most so because of his sacrifice found in “The Fellowship of The Ring” Below, is the excerpt the Film.

A lot is going on in this short few minutes of the film, and much is missed by a lot of friends that I talk to about this scene. Tolkien, if you know the mythology he created for this world, intended so much more to be taken from this. Gandalf is not a wizard in the sense as we perceive it, but rather a supernatural being- more appropriately compared to an angel. He, one of the five “wizards” were sent to protect middle earth from the servants of Morgoth. Morgoth is the supreme evil in middle earth who rebelled against the law Eru (The One, The Father of All) created. The Balrog were fallen beings that were of the same origin of the wizards. However, they were twisted and corrupted into foul creatures of darkness and shadow by Morgoth to wreck havoc upon middle earth.

Now that you’ve gotten your dose of LOTR geekery… ;) Watching the scene again shows it in a whole new light, doesn’t it?Early on, Gandalf doesn’t want to go to Moria. Why? Because he knows what lives there, and apparently, has been avoiding it- his duty, for some time which he gather from Saruman. But he does, he confronts the creature, and sends it plummeting to the abyss. Then he is pulled off the ledge, gets a solid handhold, and hangs for a second. This is the point where I really first understood what Gandalf was doing in regards to his loyalty to his friends, and his duty to Eru. He could either climb back up and aid his friends in their quest, or let himself fall to confront his unpleasant and deadly task.

He chooses to trust, and fall.

To me, the choice to let go of the ledge, fall and confront death and fear so confidently shows the power of pursing the purpose one has in this world. In Gandalf’s mind, he not only sacrificed himself, but he had to trust he wasn’t sacrificing his friends for what he was supposed to do. And then, after he does what he has been commanded, he dies. No almost death, no super suffering injury recovery… He dies.

What happens next though, is nothing short of glorious. Eru sends him back to the friends he knows, “at the turn of the tide.” As the white, Gandalf knows full well what the end will be of this battle, and that gives him a presence which is powerful and rallying. But having died, he also knows what is on the other side, and how to be a comforter to those who need it. The fight with the Balrog was not necessary so that an evil being could be removed form the world, but so that Gandalf could deny himself fully, and therefore be redeemed in a way which yields a fruit so beautiful, it makes death seem like something… Not so bad, after all.

Two things I’m learning…

Source: Patheos.com
Source: Patheos.com

In this time of increased bloglessness in the past few months, I’ve been working. A lot. I’ve been growing. A lot. But most of all, I’m learning. Bunches of A lot. Particularly right now in work, and about fear.

Work has taught, and reminded me a lot about people, leadership, and development. All people always have life issues. And those issues bleed into the workplace. Intentionally, unintentionally, manipulatively… for whatever reason, they do. Some people, like me, try to hang their problems/struggles at the door, in order to be “professional”. I’ve found this results in masking yourself from others, or internalizing to a point where it occasionally comes out in less than desirable way. Other people just let it out all over the place. Like a broken water main, by the end of the day, everyone is soaked in it and nobody is happy. Both of these approaches result in relationships which are flawed. Tactful genuinity  is perhaps the best, albeit most vulnerable, approach. Which is why many don’t use it- struggles are a sensitive thing, and if you don’t trust those around, you won’t share them… or share so much simply for the purpose of venting.

You know, I don’t consider myself to be a fearful person. I’m not afraid of rejection, I’m not afraid to fail at what I do… I am afraid of spiders- but that’s justified. One thing I’ve learned though, is there is one thing I still do fear. That is, the feeling of not having control. I’m terrified of unknowns- not because I don’t know what comes next, but because I can’t control what I don’t understand. This is incredibly ironic, because control is already an illusion in this work. There is a beautiful piece of dialogue in a move- Kung-fu-Panda. There is a wise old turtle, Oogway, and a red panda, Shifu. The dialogue goes like this….

Ooogway: “My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control. The essence of this seed is to become a peach tree. Within this bumpy, hard-shelled pit is the potential for this entire tree, with its flower blossoms and branches filled with ripe fruit. I can plant the seed in the ground, cover it with soil, and nurture it with water and sunlight. But I cannot make the tree blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.”

Shifu: “But there are things we can control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!”

Oogway replies, “Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will only get a peach.”

There is so much about life which we think we control, and granted to a point, we do. We can choose to sit at home for the rest of our life, pursue a career, etc. These things are so small compared to what we ultimately don’t control. That was the point of that scene, and something which I think is wise to keep in mind.

If we want a peach tree, for example, then yes- we can plant, care, and tend to it. However, there is nothing we can do at all to change what that seed was purposed to do. That’s perhaps the most powerful lesson I’ve been learning, or trying to learn anyway. The fact that while I may be doing things I think, or try to control, it is so much more fulfilling and stressless to acknowledge that God ultimately is.

So, the question comes to you now, I would love to know… What are you learning?

Why I’m not a Homophobe

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Disclaimer: Due to the ever changing standards of political correctness, I may use words which are not considered to be such. I do this not out of malice or degradation, but out of  the simple means of communicating a point or lifestyle. Thanks for your understanding. 

A cultural movement is being discussed quite a bit in the news and legal circles today. This is due to the large amounts of judges ruling laws against homosexual marriages unconstitutional. It has happened in Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and I am sure more states will be added in the future to come. The truth is unavoidable, the gay lifestyle is becoming more and more accepted with the American people. Regardless of your political persuasion, as a Christian, this is saddening, and as a historian… Frightening.

What gets me most though, is when I see Christians not condemning such a lifestyle, but rather embracing it and supporting it. Any Christian well versed in scriptural principles easily sees that the gay lifestyle is indeed sinful. That much is virtually indisputable. Whether it comes from Nature or nurture does not matter. Sin is sin, and should be treated as such. However, the responses to this sin are often sinful inandof itself. I’ve seen, and at times been in the mindset of fearful reactions, arrogant dismissals, and apathetic thoughts. All of which should be condemned just as much as the gay lifestyle itself.

When you react to sin with sin… all you get is a bigger mess.

Politics and legality of marriage aside, as legalizing something doesn’t change the biblical truth of it, I think we all have struggled as to how we should approach someone living in this sin. The biggest stumbling block I’ve seen for most, and experienced myself, is the aspect of fear. Ironically, when you are fearful, it is quite difficult to love someone. As perfect love is the only thing which casts out fear. Love it however, much more powerful than fear.

See, I’ve found in recent years that people living in sin hardly care about condemnation of others, because they are so wrapped up in self. This can be true for Christians even in times of great struggles. We can condemn people all day, but we might as well be beating a wet towel against a brick wall. Sure, it will leave an impression where it hit, but evaporate quickly with no lasting effect on the wall itself. However, all acceptance (in the pursuit of love) is just as useless and perhaps more damaging, as you enable their sin more.

Per usual, Christ embodied the perfect balance of love and discussing sins. He showed us Love isn’t mushy and soft, sometimes it hurts. We never saw him go “What?! You’re a tax collector?! Sorry, I just can’t associate with you anymore.” Rather, we see him eating and drinking with some of the people considered to be the worst in terms of morality and lifestyle in that culture. Now, I’m not saying you should invite a couple over for dinner. (though, it could be a very powerful tool of testimony and you should do so if you feel called) What I am saying is we should stop completely freaking out inside when someone proclaims they are “Gay”, and instead perhaps reach out to them like we would any other individual who is in need of Christ.

We should treat them just like any other person lost in the world living in sin. We should be a shameless living testimony to them and make sure they know we don’t approve of their lifestyle- but that doesn’t mean we put them in the “Do not witness to” box. They are just as approachable as any other person. I’m not a homophobe because I know who I am in Christ, what He commands me to do, and how to do it. And those commands don’t include closing myself off to an entire group of people just because they are more public and shameless about their sins than most.

I’d say live in love- not fear, humility- not arrogance, and concern- not apathy and we might, just might, begin to impact yet another “that lost cause” (as someone once told me) for Christ. Then behold His glory in the redemption of those people, as we’ve seen hundreds of times over in times before. All because we cast out fear, and started living in Love- Christ’s Love.