Recently, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah premiered and despite various sectors of Christians poo-pooing the film because of the biblical inaccuracies, it was heralded as a probable Hollywood masterpiece bridging the gap between flashing lights and star power with religion. However, the first returns of the movie have proven, yet again, that hyped cinematic pieces do not always equate with good relateable storytelling.
Basically, Noah stinks.
It’s not the fact Noah is a very LOOSE adaptation of the Bible, but rather, the movie falls flat on action and moral ambiguity.
Of course, that’s coming from the first returns — the countless number of movie buffs and critics, theologians and scholars, and those that are just intrigued by the trailers that make the unfiltered promises of a movie that will tingle our senses. The words, “artistic license had been taken” blazes the screen before the movie takes off which is a preemptive warning to the literal-reading religious out there.
In all fairness, I haven’t seen the movie yet and chances are that I won’t unless my husband picks it up whenever it hits the Redbox in a few months.
It’s not my cup of tea.
Putting all this emphasis on obedient and submissive Noah and his arc and his family and all of those animals and pretend to become agitated that Hollywood is “bastardizing Christianity” when the story – in itself – is an adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is sophomoric, asinine, and silly.
That epic and the story of Noah are very comparable; the Genesis flood story follows the Epic of Gilgamesh point by point in sequential order with only a few differences such as the number of days.
But I’m not here to argue why one shouldn’t take this story literally or scrutinize anyone’s beliefs or feelings pertaining to this movie. Again, this movie is a LOOSE adaptation to Genesis’ flood story, but I am here because this movie brings something else to light, which I think is instrumental to those that appreciate the studying of any faith.
Was Noah just a fundamentalist? Was he a man focused solely on what God would do for him, and screw everyone else in the process? Was Noah just a religious tool – not tool as in vessel, but tool as in an ad hominem attack? (Sorry, God).
These are all fair questions and I think the answer is ‘yes’ to all of them.
The age old question is, who is “better’ in terms of righteousness, Noah or Abraham?
I think, without a doubt, the answer is Abraham.
Think of it like this: God had formulated this perfect world; it was filled with perfection until his humanely creation messed it up like a two-year-old trying to pour their own juice into a sippy cup.
It turned into an utter mess; the perpetual juice flow of humanity’s mishaps and unethical conundrums were never ending and God – like any father – was fed the f*** up.
Despite certain religious folks romanticizing Noah, Noah was mediocre. At best.
The world was filled with atrocity after atrocity and by comparison to the chaos waging out in the world, Noah was a saint. In comparison to Abraham, though, he’s like Paris Hilton’s vocal abilities and Abraham is like the musical prowess found in Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lennon.
In terms of intelligence, compassion, love, and true righteousness, Abraham is on another pedestal.
But Noah? Noah was just subpar, paltry, and perhaps abysmal when you compare him to under the lens of Abraham’s progressive righteousness and boldness.
Yes, Noah was Paris Hilton. Put Paris Hilton in a world filled with people such as me – who are terribly tone deaf and our rhythm is comparable to Carlton Banks – and she’ll appear as a beautiful songstress.
Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, says ” Noah was precisely blameless “in his age,” but had he lived in future generations, he would not have been considered righteous.”
If one was going to purge the earth of vocal atrocities, BUT they still wanted to preserve the humanity and start anew in hopes of perfected angelic voices, would Paris Hilton NOT be the best bet in a world of horrid, rancid, and atramentous vocal “talent”?
“The earth became corrupt before God; the earth was filled with lawlessness…God said to Noah, I have decided to put an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with lawlessness because of them. I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood…Noah did so; just as God commanded him, so he did.” (Genesis 6:11-14, 22)
Even if you choose to romanticize Noah as being this superior character, the truth from my point of view is that he was dismal. He was the best God had at the time and he was more intent on saving his own skin than making a progressive gesture to make a plea at saving a portion of humanity other than himself.
Noah, for all intents and purposes, was a common day fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism is defined as a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles per Merriam-Webster. In layman’s terms it could be suggested it’s basically “strict obedience to literal interpretation” — that’s Fundamentalist Christianity in a nutshell.
Also, see ‘legalism’ or ‘orthodoxy’ versus ‘orthopraxy’ (right conduct).
To be fair, Noah deserves exceptional credit for being steadfast in his commitment in being righteous and being obedient with God. That being said, generally speaking, Noah would fall flat just as Paris Hilton would fall flat when put up against more upstanding and ethical creatures. Some would argue, that Noah would be superior to Abraham because his social climate was deliciously more difficult to thrive in as a moral citizen.
They would have a strong case; it’s a classic example of contextual era over individual piety.
Still, Abraham would win. Why?
He questioned God. He BEGGED for humanity while Noah….well, Noah, was a classic fundamentalist and was self-serving.
When God tells Abraham of His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?”
Abraham, in terms of compassion, love, and being aware of humanity, was Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder to Noah’s Paris Hilton.
Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels says it best, “We see here the fundamental distinction between Noah and Abraham. Noah is obedient, he walks with God, but he makes no attempt to intervene; he simply saves himself from destruction. Abraham, on the other hand, acts to transform the situation. Though humble, Abraham is not content to merely be led. He confronts God, challenges the decree, and insists on involvement.”
He. Confronts. God.
He. Challenges. God.
He. Insists. On. Proactiveness.
That is the main point between the two — Noah is comfortable in just being a ‘Yes, man” while Abraham disturbs the comfortable actually takes a stand of historic significance.
Without a doubt, Abraham > Noah.
Hands down. With ease and flare.
However, Noah is still important to the historical prevalence of the Bible and God’s work.
From Noah, we witness the shift of literal obedience to the powerhouse progressive that is Abraham. Without Noah, we wouldn’t have a benchmark to measure Abraham with, and thus, understanding a greatness that’s often left in Sunday School lesson books.