Noah, My Review

My last post was a review of a review.  This is my own perspective.  I advise everyone to prepare their minds, put on the “helmet,” perhaps we can call it, before watching the movie, so as to be prepared to “give an answer,” in Paul’s phrase, when others ask what our opinion is.  Very few of the people I have discussed this Kabbalistic worldview problem with knew anything at all about the subject.  Why is that?  For the same reason “Johnny can’t read”: no one taught him.  Dr. Mattson reserves his ire for the leaders of the church who have commented on and/or recommended that Christians see the film without noticing anything Kabbalistic or gnostic about it.  Perhaps no one taught them.  Do seminaries teach these things?

So I waited to add my reaction, because I’m not an expert.  I wanted everyone to read the expert’s guidance before hearing what I thought as I sat through the thing.

This is a profoundly wicked movie.  For a start, I consider it an evil thing to “bait and switch” the Christian community in this way, setting them up to debate a Hollywoodized version of  a Bible story, when in fact it is a story drawn from an intensely anti-biblical place.  And to hoodwink a Kabbalah/gnostic-ignorant Christian leadership into encouraging the flock to view the picture as a way to debate Hollywood’s treatment of the Bible is especially cynical.  Despicable.

Of course, Aronofsky makes no bones about his being an atheist, and his movies have all been saturated with Kabbalistic and gnostic themes, so he can’t be said to have been hiding anything.  It is, indeed, a failure of the Church.  This should have been seen a mile away, which is the heart of Dr. Mattson’s lament.  How does one spell “Laodicea”?  Am I being harsh? Good.  I am entirely self-taught, which makes me intensely aware of what I do not know, and so endlessly seek correction.  It also makes me open to questions that would not be acceptable in Laodicean seminaries.  But enough about me.  What did I think of the picture?

In the Biblical account, rogue members of the Divine Council (those guys in Job 2 and Psalm 82, I Kings 22:20-23, among others; if you don’t know about it, look up Michael Heiser, and reserve a week or so of sleepless nights as you excitedly plough through astonishing biblical realities no one ever told you about) “left their own domain,” “abandoned their proper abode,” that is, they decided to set up shop here on Earth, to subvert God’s plan for newly created mankind.  They were the cause of the conditions that necessitated the Flood.  So God put them in Tartarus, the deepest part of Hell, where they remain today, awaiting God’s final judgement (Jude 6, 2 Peter 2).

In the movie, they came to help Adam, which made “the creator” mad.  In the Bible, their extraordinarily harsh punishment has to do with the fact that they raped human women, creating a hybrid race of offspring, called “nephilim,” whose propensity for violence came to dominate human society, and whose genetic contribution to the human gene pool became close to universal.  In the movie, there are no nephilim, only these well-meaning “Watchers,” so unfairly stigmatized by “the creator,” who caused them to become encased in frozen lava, so that they look like huge, walking piles of rock–with light shining between the chinks.  Their spirits have been trapped in crude, material bounds by a vindictive, unsympathetic “creator.”  No way such beings would be capable of sex with human women.

In any event, the watchers build the Ark for Noah, and protect his camp like a praetorian guard.  Needless to say, with that kind of labor at your disposal, it doesn’t take the Bible’s 120 years; Noah’s kids have barely grown up by the time the project is finished. Towards the end, when Noah’s enemies try to steal the Ark, they manage to kill the “Watchers,”  who, liberated from their material prisons, burst into heaven, returning to their rightful place.  The movie does not tell us what “the creator” thinks about that.  This is pure, unadulterated, gnosticism, and it is painful to watch–if you know what you’re looking at.

“The creator” never speaks in the movie, even though God is quite chatty with Noah in the Biblical account, giving him advice and instruction all along the way, and then making a permanent covenant with humanity in the end, through Noah, sealed with a sign: every time we see a rainbow, we are to be reminded of it.  God has done this to rescue humanity, and give it a fresh start, freed from the corruption the criminal alien Divine Council members inflicted on a “very good” creation.  What does this despicable film tell us?  Well, God is entirely silent, for one thing.  Noah can only infer what he must do, by interpreting his dreams, and also by an induced dream his witch doctor grandfather, Methuselah, gave him via a drugged cup of tea.  His mission: to ensure that the world, after he rescues the animals, will be free from the cancer of humanity.  “The creator” wants him to kill his whole family, the last survivors–or at least ensure that they cannot procreate, which is essentially the same thing.  Man is a curse upon the earth.  The killing that lions and pythons and black widow spiders do is good.  Human beings are evil.

Now this is particularly rich.  We all know the story: Noah has a wife, and all their sons have wives.  Eight people.  It is a detail every Flood story across the globe retains.  Not here.  Noah only allows a girl on board because he knows she can’t bear children.  She is one son’s girlfriend, so she’s no threat to his conception of “the creator’s” mission.  Both the other boys are denied female companionship, infertile or no.  Everyone knows that there will be no girls waiting when the floodwaters recede.  But that’s the way “the creator” wants it.  Tragically, Noah is married to a woman with human emotions, and she seeks out the witch doctor, Methuselah, who heals the girl.  Noah knows nothing about this.  She gets pregnant–with twin girls!  I know what you’re thinking!  Aronofsky finally got to the number eight, and these girls will eventually be wives for the two bachelor boys!  Brilliant!

Not so much.  First, they have a stowaway (don’t ask), so that would make nine, but the real problem is that “the creator” wants no humans to survive, so Noah has to murder the babies.  As he tells one of his sons: the creator chose me not because I am good, but because he needed someone to get the job done.  Kind of like Don Corleone.

Well, “the creator” chose the wrong man, after all, because he just couldn’t live up to that monster’s expectations.  (Come to think about it, “the creator” might not be so much Don Corleone, who is actually kind of sympathetic, but more akin to the Joe Pesci character in Goodfellas–a mindless, heartless murderer.)  Poor old Noah simply couldn’t do it.  He had the knife drawn, and it looks like he was going for the eye socket, and he knows that he’s got “the creator’s” contract to waste these crumby human scum, but he lets him down.  Maybe it’s because his dad worshiped Lucifer, the good god, and simply can’t in the end play for the other team.  Who knows?  He regrets it bitterly, until the end of the movie, when he is reunited with the skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden (the good guy, remember?), and gets to confer satanic “enlightenment” on the twin girls.  So all turns out for the best, after all!  A new human race, all worshiping the serpent.  Take that, “creator”!

And the covenant God made with the real Noahin the Bible?  The one where God talks to Noah, and confirms it with a rainbow?  Well, you better be paying attention, because while “the creator” does not speak, natch’, we do see a point of light in the sky that starts to blow rainbow-colored rings.  Rings.  Like a snake eating its tail, perhaps?  Not one, lest you miss the point.  One after another.  The end.

Point taken, Darren.  I wonder who gets it, though?

 

 

Debating the Movie Noah

I stumbled upon a very interesting treatment of Darren Aronofsky’s new movie, Noah, and I thought I’d share it and offer a few thoughts of my own.  The article is by Dr. Brian Mattson, whom I had never heard of.  He’s really good.  (You can read the article, titled Sympathy for the Devilhere. I recommend that you click through to the updates he provides at the bottom; one is a short video of Dr. Mattson commenting on the response the article has received, and the other is a follow-up article.)

Mattson demonstrates that the movie is not at all a fanciful rendition of the Biblical story–so we’re starting out on the wrong foot if we begin our discussion of the picture with that as our assumption, and then try to work out how faithful it is to the story in Genesis. Instead, he argues that what we are looking at is for the most part what the Kabbalah says about the creation and the world leading up to the Flood, with lots of gnosticism thrown in for good measure.

The Kabbalah, of course, is a book of esoteric, Jewish, mystical philosophy; it overlaps theologically with the various forms of gnosticism that sprung up in the first centuries after Christ.

What does the average Christian know about Kabbalah?  Considerably less than he knows about gnosticism–and he knows precious little about that.  So it is exceedingly unlikely that most Christians who see this movie will notice this consistent theme, the glue that holds the story together.  It will just appear to be a jumble of weird misinterpretations of the Bible that will disconcert, and will either be brushed aside in honor of that red-blooded American desire to turn off our reasoning and just enjoy a Hollywood special-effects blockbuster, or not, in which case it’ll be a case of walking away thinking it’s a bad movie.  Well, it may be bad film making, but it’s more bad than that.

Mattson calls his article Sympathy for the Devil because in Kabbalah Satan is the good guy, and God is the bad guy.  And that’s just what the movie says. A recurring element within the movie, that almost no one will catch, I’m guessing, is the use of the preserved skin of the Serpent from the Garden of Eden, to confer Enlightenment–that is, to convert someone from worship of the bad God, Yahweh, to the good god, Lucifer.  Read the article; you’ll be amazed.

Because we can’t expect the common man to know anything about these things, Dr. Mattson does not complain about the problem that almost no one will notice any of this.  It is that pastors and prominent Christian leaders have said nothing about any of this (although this video review by Pastor Joe Schimmel, The Noah Movie Deception, makes clear that he recognized some of these troubling issues–the whole thing is great).  I’ll let Dr. Mattson speak for himself:

Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.

So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.

It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.

The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…

Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.

I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: “You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the ‘seed of the Serpent’ and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.”

He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it.

He says that this is happening because we have returned to the spiritual environment of the 2nd Century, and of course I concur, that being a central theme of my book How the West Was Lost.

 

Unbearable? Not.

I love the Nick Nolte movie The Good Thief.  Certainly, it is a “worldly” picture, and those who wish to seal themselves off from such things will not find the benefits in it that I do.  So forewarned is forearmed.

He is an American who has lived all his life in France, a drug addict and a gambler.  And a thief.  He is middle aged and at the end of his options.  Nothing left.  At the start of the show, he bets all his remaining money on a horse, and loses it.  He has no money left for more heroin.  His friend apprises him of an opportunity to rob a casino in Monaco (he lives in the South of France, so Monte Carlo is close).

Let’s back up.  The opening scene is in a bar, a very raunchy place.  One thing leads to another, and he rescues a prostitute from slavery, by sheer bravery.

So what do we have here?  Heroin addicts, prostitutes, raunchy bars, gamblers, and large-scale robbery.  Oh, betrayal, too.

I can’t say it’s a tale of redemption, because the story does not go that far into the future of the character Nolte plays.  He’s conversant with the Bible (as the title of the film indicates), but that’s no help.

When I watch that movie, I think of myself.  I have spent my life lost, even after I was saved, in a sense.  We have no idea what a mess we are in, for the most part.  What I mean is, to truly learn what is wrong with us is terribly difficult.  Things might seem fine, but the depth of our sinfulness is almost always invisible to us.  I think it’s God’s mechanism to enable us to cope, actually.  If we truly saw what we are, we could not cope with it.

In the movie, Nolte has a choice: if he’s going to attempt the last great job, his only hope for the future, he knows that he has to kick the heroin, so he does.  On the spot.  No whining, or wavering.  He decides.  What comes next is an ugly process, and the movie shows it.

Set aside that the story is about an evil plan.  Isn’t that our own reality?  How ugly do we realize our own true selves to be?  I think the picture is very close.

We are all junkies, in other words.  We are all at the race track, betting our last dollar on a horse that fails to win.  We all have no prospects left.  Then, we are offered an opportunity to put everything we have left on the line; all or nothing.  Complete redemption, or utter collapse.  Those of us who have chosen that, know.  It is Matthew 5:3.  Then comes the mourning.

I say that we are all in that place, and that’s true, but it is a miracle that brings us to the place where we can recognize it.  And it is also a miracle that allows those of us who have done that in the past to keep on the Stairway to Heaven, developing in sanctification.

At the end of the movie, the theme develops that we must bet everything, with full confidence, and keep doing it, over and over.  This takes place one night at gambling tables, but for US it is each and every day, as long as we live.  Faith is the substance of that which we cannot see.  The boldness of the character in the movie, his confident knowledge that each wager will be a winner, on that night, is akin to our own challenge.  The movie may not know that–probably doesn’t.  But oh, it does tell that story.  Just like The Matrix, the movie makers might not know the truth they are telling, but the truth is there, for those who have eyes to see.

Once again, I caution the tender reader: this is not a gentle movie, and it is not about a man who is converted to Christ.  The deep, redemptive truth in it is not obvious.  But it is there.  Just as the stairway interpretation of the Beatitudes is not obvious, but is in fact there.  We are mired in sin, and it requires boldness to choose another way, and the path is even harder, once we are on it.  Courage, boldness.  Living in a world saturated in sin, and facing our declining options without collapsing.  One hopes that Bob, Nolte’s character, turns to Christ, after the movie ends, but for us to see ourselves in it should not be too difficult.

Then again, it is a movie that can be enjoyed for stylish excellence, great acting and wonderful writing.  If you like that kind of thing.

Thoughts about the Woody Allen movie Blue Jasmine

Update (3/9/14): I don’t know why it did not strike me before, it being so obvious, but this movie is a revisiting, in many ways, of A Streetcar Named Desire.  This reminds me of the days when my daughter was little, and we’d watch the same movies many times over.  A Bug’s Life was one of them.  I had shown Claire The Magnificent Seven, and Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, and had told her that the one was an American remake of the other.  Yet, somehow, I never noticed that the cartoon was yet another remake–sort of.  Then, one day, I noticed.  I pointed it out to Claire, and she instantly could see it.  Anyone can.  I wonder about how these connections are made in the brain: sometimes they are instantaneous, and sometimes delayed, and sometimes, well, we never make the connection.  Still, the oh-so-many ways Jasmine is Blanche Dubois are so painfully obvious that I am almost at pains to admit I never noticed until now.

Cate Blanchette won the Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” which I had top of my Netflix queue just in time to know whether she deserved it.  She did.

Cate Blanchette won the Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” which I had top of my Netflix queue just in time to know whether she deserved it.  She did.

Clearly, Woody spent a lot of time absorbed in the Bernie Madoff story, as did I, and it inspired much of the movie.  Around that time I was reading a lot of finacial web sites, and learned quite a bit about what was going on.  But that’s only the back story in the movie, and never is dealt with directly; certainly, no finance stuff is presented.  You just get the idea that Alec Baldwin (Madoff) is playing three card monte with investors’ money, went to jail for it, and left his wife high and dry when the house of cards collapsed and there was no real money inside it.

She, Cate–the character calls herself “Jasmine,” but evidently it’s a name she gave herself–arrives at the start of the show in San Francisco, at the ratty (although clean) apartment of her working class sister.  She’s going to flop there for a while until she gets on her feet.  She is a haughty, toplofty type, used to the life of the very rich–an apartment if not on 5th Avenue then Park, a house in one of the Hamptons,  routine luxurious travel to tony parts of Europe, all the rest.  An Australian, the actress captures perfectly the tone, dialect and mannerisms of a rich New York woman with the very great responsibility to decorate well, and ensure that the party she is throwing goes off just right.  That’s her role in life; she’s made for it.  She’s the perfect wife for such a world, and as a plus she has no desire to have any notion of what is going on with her husband’s business dealings, and simply assumes he would never be unfaithful to her.  She lives inside a dream of her own making.

The movie ‘s flashbacks tell us these things, but the current story is her dealings with the working class people she is now forced to deal with.  And she can’t.  But what’s most interesting is the way these normal, salt-of-the-earth people react to her.  It’s as if she had just stepped off a spaceship after aliens had abducted her and she has forgotten what earthlings are like.  They try to be polite, but it’s tough, given her obliviousness to the need to even TRY; not only can’t she comprehend them either, she wants them to go away.  The only thing going for her is her physical attractiveness; if she were ugly, she wouldn’t have a chance.  But that only prolongs the agony; she is in no state to learn what’s wrong with her and repent, and beg God to renew her soul and remake her life.  She’s like Dorothy in Oz–she just wants to return to a Kansas that no longer exists–but she can’t face that fact.

Which is, incidentally, a calling card of Woody Allen’s: an acolyte of Ingmar Bergman, an existentialist, the world is an atheistic wasteland and hopeless.  Never do his characters call out to God for redemption, and if they did, I suspect, a bird would crap on their upturned face by way of reply.  We need to pray for that man.

I present this description of the movie, because Cate’s character reminded me of ME.  I am like that in many ways.  While I was not fantastically rich at any point in my life, I, too, made up in my own mind a persona to present to the world, and only by God’s grace have I been able to recognize that I had been living as if the artificial was real.

We are all this way, I suspect.  It is the nature of the Fall, of the sin nature we inherit.  We justify ourselves to ourselves, and move on, and then we forget we did that.  Time passes, and if it’s working for us, we take that as evidence it is true.

Watching the movie, I thought of Bernie Madoff’s wife.  Cate’s character has no talents or abilities outside of being the wife of a very rich man in New York in the early 21st century.  Ansd so it was with Ruth, seemingly.  Stripped of her husband’s wealth, she’s a fish flopping on the shore, trying to breathe air when all she can breathe is water.

When I say that I am that, too–and that everyone is, that it is an accurate description of our fallen condition–it may sound presumptuous.  I obviously don’t know every human who lived since Adam.  And anyway, why would Woody Allen be someone to learn such a thing from?  Fair enough.  Yet, Woody had the Baldwin character kill himself in prison.  A man who was on top of the world, and when it was all taken away he had not enough substance in himself to live without his earthly substance.  That’s pretty insightful on Woody’s part, even if he’s not an exemplar in his personal life.  But haven’t we always said that about him?  His movies are often wonderfully insightful, and he seemingly can’t see himself.

I must say that the movie  haunted me, telling me that I am that person.  I have hidden from my sin nature all my life, even when I thought I wasn’t doing so.  Sin is so embedded in us that it takes a shock to wake us up.  I hope the book demonstrates that, and helps us walk that path away from our blindness.