Here’s a guest post, I wrote for my friend Jennifer O. White. It originally appeared at her Prayerfully Speaking blog (jenniferowhite.com) on Friday 3/28/2014.
Russell Crowe’s film NOAH releases today in theaters. As many of you are aware, there has been substantial controversy in the media over whether or not Christians should support this film. I was in the unique position to attend the NOAH press Junket in Beverly Hills, CA last weekend, where I viewed the final cut of the film and participated in a roundtable Q&A discussion with Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel. In the days leading up to the press event, I had been listening to the audiobook edition of Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah Books, 2008). The following quote gave me substantial food for thought:
“In his book Roaring Lambs, Bob Briner reflects on missionary conventions he went to as a kid where children were challenged to commit themselves to missions. And that’s an awesome thing. Missionaries are heroes. But I agree with Briner when he says that the same spirit needs to prevail in sending our children into culture-shaping professions like entertainment, journalism, education, and politics.
I envision a whole generation who will lay claim to these careers with the same vigor and commitment that sent men like Hudson Taylor to China… We need to stop criticizing culture and start creating.”
Batterson’s book helped me to muster the courage to jump on a plane and spend the whole weekend outside of my comfort zone. After all, I’m a homeschooling father of eight, who promotes Christian books for a living. Hollywood is not my normal scene and truth be told, I’m often in agreement with many of the Christian ministries who have spoken out the loudest against this film. Yet here I was, with an opportunity to give feedback on this controversial Bible-themed movie.
I’ve received a range of responses to my participation in this event. People closest to me have been very supportive and encouraging, while a number of strangers have suggested that Hollywood bought me off with a fancy weekend getaway. Minor personal attacks aside; it’s a new experience for me to be on the receiving end of this sort of criticism. If you’re a Christian who feels a strong need to criticize NOAH, I ask you to consider why you’re so uncomfortable about a film you’ve never actually seen. If you choose to go see the movie, you will encounter many surprises and it will push many of your assumptions. That’s the whole point. The filmmakers want to make you a bit uncomfortable and get you thinking on and discussing the broad themes of the film.
One of the things that has intrigued me in the midst of all the controversy is that the main reason people are hating on NOAH is because it’s based on a biblical story and may not display their personal understanding of that part of Genesis. However as movies go, it only rated PG-13, which in my estimation is for some sequences of violence and the film’s dark apocalyptic themes. When it comes to responding to NOAH, I think it’d be wise for us to examine our hearts. I know other church-going Christians who regularly watch R-rated films and are into shows like Game of Thrones, which display scenes and images that in my opinion, Christians really should not be consuming. To me, there is just something ironic and inconsistent about that.
So, how should Christians respond to Noah? I’m of the opinion that Christians ought to head out and see the film this weekend. Consider for yourself first-hand, how good or bad it is. Pray that God will give you divine appointments with friends and acquaintances in the coming days and weeks to discuss the film and the parts of the Bible on which it is based. If you would like to see more Christian and Bible-themed media coming out of Hollywood, pray to that end. If you have a burden to be a part of that process, then pray that God would give you not only the courage, but also the opportunity to as Mark Batterson says, “stop criticizing culture and start creating.”
How will you respond to the movie? How will you pray?