A Scripture Scholar, a Great Books Guy, a Campus Minister and an Engineer Walk Into Noah …

noahI saw Noah last night with two Benedictine College professors  — a Scripture Scholar and a Mechanical Engineer — our Director of College Ministry and a Great Books Guy from Kansas University.

The Campus Minister and the Great Books Guy hated it, the Scripture Scholar had mixed feelings and the Engineer and I kind of liked it.

Over a beer afterwards …

The Campus Minister worried whether the movie would be good for evangelization. “Do you think people will make light of the Catholic faith because of this movie?” he asked. He objected to the magical elements in the story  — including the character we dubbed “Magic Grandpa”.

The Great Books guy compared the Genesis story to Gilgamesh and Greek flood myths, referenced the apocryphal sources the filmmaker used and wondered if “the creator” in the movie is the Gnostic demiurge.

The Scripture Scholar talked about the midrashian tradition and praised Russell Crowe’s Noah for his Abraham-like determination to do God’s will; it helped him see the patriarch in a new light, he said.

The Mechanical Engineer was the only one who came in with no knowledge of the movie whatsoever. He enjoyed the story, appreciated the ark and talked about a Scriptural ark replica that is under construction in Florida.

And me? I got the haters to agree that it wasn’t a “look at your watch” kind of movie.

This Noah gets God right — he exists and is fundamental to everything. His will matters, but he is mysterious and we need to be reverent and attentive to hear him, precisely because he is so fundamental (it is similarly difficult to study air).

Noah gets man right. We suffer from original sin and are at our best when we seek out and do God’s will which we slowly learn is love.

The movie’s special effects were disappointing to me — I never bought the landscape or the flood. The movie will soon feel dated; it already kind of did.

The movie’s Shem was disappointing to me — Noah’s son was an antediluvian Millennial, more a product of the hookup culture than of a righteous prophet, and he couldn’t even defend his woman properly.

And the animals were disappointing — they basically board the ark and are out of the picture. But the animals are one of the reasons you see a Noah movie, from an entertainment perspective.

In the end, I can see why Noah has provoked such wildly different reactions.

But if you have $7.50 of discretionary income, there are worse things you can spend it on. Just be sure to bring along a Scripture Scholar, a Campus Minister, a Great Books Guy and an Engineer and sit them down afterwards to discuss it.

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13 thoughts on “A Scripture Scholar, a Great Books Guy, a Campus Minister and an Engineer Walk Into Noah …

  1. Maryp says:

    I loved it, loved the fx and the animals, puzzle over the role of the snakeskin and want to know where you can see a movie for 7.50?

  2. Panda Rosa says:

    Who paid for the popcorn?

  3. James Germain says:

    To answer your great books friend, yes, yes it is. Just read this analysis from Dr. Mattson:
    http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil

    and he doesn’t even catch everything. After reading his review I sat down and reflected and noticed some gnostic elements.

    I spent the last half of this film wanting to look at my cellphone to see how much longer there was. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to disturb the people around me. Maybe boring isn’t the right word to describe it, but it was painful.

    I wanted to scream at Noah and ask him if maybe, just maybe, his daughter being miraculously cured of her infertility might imply that God was in favor of her having children.
    When he spared the infants I was waiting for him to say it was because he realized that he had misunderstood God’s intention. But no, he hadn’t. In this film God was ok with him killing the infants or not. “Either way, your choice.” No big deal.
    Noah spared the infant girls because he was incapable of doing God’s will. He failed! His God was ok with him murdering baby girls in cold blood. That is not the God of Christianity.

    I would consider this movie morally offensive and urge people to not bother.

    1. Eric Johnson says:

      God gave Noah the choice rather than tell him what to do. It’s called “free will.” How could Noah ever “know” himself if all he did was get directions from God or his religion or his mother or his father? Noah made the ethical decision and in that decision, he recognised that he was an ethical man, not because of God but because of himself.

  4. John says:

    Well the beginning really caught my attention, as someone who knows something about the parts of history all classrooms leave out, namely the mysterious. I don’t know how I’ll like the film, but one thing I do like is that finally the mainstream gets that there is such a thing as magic in history and in the Torah. How absurd that mainline (Judeo-?)Christian religionists (St. Albert the Great, Doctor of the Church, excepted of course!) have come to ignore this blatantly obvious fact. (The Third Patriarch Jacob by Scriptural account was clearly a practitioner of natural magic, which was nothing unusual in tribal life anyway; in fact it was all-encompassing.) So if mystery and verbatim dogma are going to have a dog-fight, well may truth win! Is “popular” culture finally waking up to the inescapably obvious? That alone deserves two thumbs up, an applause, fireworks and maybe a full-blown New York City parade PLUS a ball drop…

    1. Eric Johnson says:

      What exactly is your definition of “mysterious?”

      1. Tom Hoopes says:

        God is so great we can’t fathom him … he is a mystery. A mountain is a mystery to a gnat in a similar way (though the analogy is inadequate): If the gnat were intelligent, he could figure out a few things about the mountain, but only a very few.

        The Catechism describes the mysteries of the faith a lot, the fundamental one here: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/237.htm

  5. gerard says:

    Punch line please?

  6. Suzy says:

    …and don’t forget the beer!
    Fun read, Tom. Maybe I’ll see it now!

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