Caught in Noah’s Mirror

Seems to be some controversy stirring around Darren Aronofsky’s film, Noah. Some feel it’s too literal an interpretation of a horrific myth. Others feel it should be a more literal interpretation of a historic holocaust. Some marveled at Aronofsky’s personal and unique vision. Others felt it lacked vision, was in fact two or three movies deluged into one. Regardless, to witness the cinematic birth of the universe, with scientific evolution and divine creation working hand in hand, is something not to be missed.

After Alice and I saw Noah, we sat in Pasternak Bakery and didn’t say a word for almost half an hour. We were both processing what we had seen. How often can you say that of a big budget Hollywood film? I was so tangled in my thoughts that I forgot to eat my tea cake! That’s a first.

As I percolated, I slowly came feel that Noah was a heart-rending parable of our modern world. It wasn’t humanity’s fall from Eden that doomed us. It was our rush to bring all of creation down with us.

Cain and his descendents claim dominion over the earth. They use nature for their own purposes, without respect for the lives, processes or beauty they destroy. They seek only their own profit and their own power, and the dark satisfaction such things provide those who have lost communion with their souls.

When Noah receives a dream of a great flood, he leads his family across the land to ask the wisdom of his grandfather, Methusalah, the oldest man alive. The family travels through blighted forests that could be a photo journalist’s essay on the Amazon. They trek through an abandoned mining wasteland that could be an exposé on strip-mining in Kentucky.

Noah comes to understand that God is not destroying humanity because of our sin against God or against each other. God must destroy humanity to stop humanity from destroying all of creation. To save the world, we the people must die.

And just when you think to yourself, “What kind of a monstrous God could do such a thing?” you feel the movie whisper, “And what of you? Is this not exactly what you are doing? Are you not destroying creation, and in doing so, will you not commit genocide on your entire species? You are on the verge of emptying the ancient oceans of fish. You are crushing near-eternal mountains into flatlands in your mad lust for coal and oil. You are burning the rain forests to raise more cattle so you can sell more hamburgers. Your flood is slower than God’s, but in the end, your flood is worse, because you are doing it to your own selves, to your own children, to your future generations.”

Pow. That’s how Noah hit me, like a punch in the chest. The movie held up a portrait of a vengeful God but, as I stared upon it, the portrait became a mirror of our own selves. I actually felt sick to my stomach; I couldn’t finish my tea cake. Another first.

But that’s what great art does. It says, Look. That’s all. Just, Look. And when you do, you can’t look away.

25 Comments on “Caught in Noah’s Mirror

  1. Did your dad and Alice take you to see Noah, too?

  2. No. He said he wanted to preview it first. After seeing it, he said it wasn’t for kids.

  3. That’s nothing. Ever since, we’ve been watching environmental documentaries every night. Pow, pow, pow!

  4. I wish. In Tapped, we learned how bottled water gets from the ground to the consumer. After that, we both swore off bottled water.

  5. I remember The Lorax. Depressing, and kind of hopeful, too. But I never saw Wall-E.

  6. It’s pretty good. It’s about this trash robot named Wall-E. People have completely ruined earth, like Cain’s descendants in Noah. I mean, not a single animal or plant is left. The earth is a global garbage dump.

  7. I know! But it’s really funny, too. People live their entire lives on space ships. Earth is like a myth to them. They spend their days eating processed food, engaging with interactive video, drifting around on floating chairs, growing bigger and heavier and rounder with each generation.

  8. Wow. Do you think we’re really going to destroy the earth?

  9. I don’t know. Some of these documentaries make it sound like earth’s in real trouble.

  10. My dad now supports several organizations that are working to save the earth. The Story of Stuff is a good one. And 350.org is helping us reduce our carbon footprint. Of course, we’re lifetime members of the Sierra Club. When you stop and look around, there are a lot of people committed to taking care of the earth.

  11. I’m going to join some organizations right now!

  12. They all suggest things you and I can do to make a difference. Even little things, like not buying bottled water, can make a big difference.

  13. Let’s go through all these sites and make a To Do list.

  14. Great idea! Then we can check them off one by one!

  15. Yeah! Maybe we can even get Miss Stillwater’s class to participate, like a school project!

  16. Sometimes doing little things make big things seem little, too.