We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About Noah
by Jonathan Haefs
I love the Bible.
I love movies.
However, I’ll be the first to admit that when movies and the Bible come together, the combination is, most often, less than stellar. Whether it is due to being produced with a ridiculously low-budget or the narrative being altered beyond the point of recognition… things just never seem to go well when the greatest story ever written attempts to become the greatest story on the silver-screen.
Now, perhaps you think I’m going to defend the film and decry the “overly conservative” people who have been in an uproar all over every form of social media. Again… you’d be wrong.
For several days now I have been watching the back and forth between those who are so upset over the inaccuracies in the film that they literally want to burn the master copy… and those who think that is not only an over reaction, but detrimental to the reputation of the Church. The battle between both sides has left the blog-o-sphere battle ground quite bloody… and this whole time I’ve been constantly thinking…
…we are having the wrong conversation about Noah.
Let’s be honest, do we actually think that Hollywood (or even independent Christian film-makers) will ever translate a story from text to screen in a manner that satisfies every critic? Will they ever be able to get all the details right? No. They couldn’t even if they tried. Further still, we should expect by now that the more mainstream a film, the more it will depart from the Biblical narrative. We should know the Bible is going to viewed as inspiration for a film loosely based on it’s account, instead of being looked at as a screenplay in and of itself. These facts should not shock us.
Also, we know that we cannot stop Hollywood from making films like Noah. No amount of protests, angry blogs, or boycotts will bring the money making movie machine to a halt. In fact, bad press will ultimately only help the box office numbers as no one wants to be left out of seeing this year’s “most controversial film.”
In light of this, I wonder why we pour all of our conversational energy into things we know will not change. Why do we fixate on how inaccurate a film is or how we should boycott it? The primary problem with these conversations is they do not have the power to change anything. I’m interested in conversations that transform and I think that is exactly the boat we are missing as the Noah film sets sail in our theaters (all puns intended).
The beauty (and yes, I meant to use that adjective) of all Bible based films, no matter their inaccuracies, is that they open doors to conversations to which people are typically closed off.
That neighbor who thinks your faith is wack, your family member who avoids everything except surface level conversations, the co-worker who will never accept your invitation to worship with you… all of them are willing to talk about movies they’ve seen. People who would never look at a Bible or listen to anything you have to say after you mention the name Jesus, will sit and discuss Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Noah over lunch. How are we missing the opportunity to have these conversations?
We are so preoccupied with bashing these kind of films that we cannot see the opportunities they create for us. Take Noah for instance… it would not be difficult within a conversation about this movie to begin talking about the nature of good, evil, and justice. You could easily talk about judgment and salvation… and in no time flat you arrive at the cross and the gospel! That is a conversation that has the potential to transform!
I’m not endorsing the movie (or any movie)… I’m not denouncing the movie. I’m not asking you to see the movie (I will, so that I’m equipped to talk about it). I’m asking all of us to see the opportunity to talk about more than a movie. We have the opportunity to talk about the gospel!
Anytime Hollywood and the Bible collide, I don’t see it as a chance for us to proclaim the bad news of the box office… I see it as a opportunity to proclaim the good news of the Bible… the Gospel of Jesus Christ!