God, Guilt, and Aronofsky’s Noah, Part 1

As it has become too expensive for our family of five to go to the theater together often, we usually wait to see movies until they reach the dollar theater here in town. This means that we usually do not see a movie until the flurry of reviews has passed. Not many people were still writing about Darren Aronofsky’s Noah when we saw it a couple of weeks ago. I come late to the conversation, but I still want to share some thoughts on the film.

I do not want to weigh in on the controversy surrounding it. Having grown up in a church in which every new artistic or pop-culture offering was a cause for protest—Jesus Christ Superstar, Smurfs, He Man, The Lion King, Teletubbies—I had little trouble ignoring those rants. I did join one discussion with a boycotter who countered my suggestion that he take Aronofsky at his word when he says he wanted the movie to be a midrash with a remark about “adult diaper rash.” I was reminded why I try to stay out of discussions with certain of my Facebook friends.

Since there was no worry about spoilers, I read the reviews. A concise observation by Matt Zoller Seitz gave support to what I suspected: “This is…an immense, weird, ungainly, often laughably overwrought and silly movie, an amalgamation of elements from various literary and cinematic forebears.” After seeing the movie, I disagree. Overwrought maybe. Laughable and silly? No. [Read more...]

Wild-Eyed Youth Pastor

I recently found an unexpected e-mail in my in-box. It was from Joe, my youth pastor from over twenty-five years ago. I haven’t spoken to him in as many years. He was reaching out to apologize for any spiritual harm he had done me all those years ago. The e-mail got me reminiscing.

Joe was one of those youth pastors who seemed to have a sure calling, the kind of guy people called on fire for the Lord. He preached fearlessly, with the zeal of a prophet; unlike others I’d encountered who believed they had the gift of prophecy, Joe did not see it as an excuse to be a loud and judgmental ass. He was open and honest, transparent about his struggles. It drew kids to him. He and his wife opened their home to us, were endlessly patient with the teenage noise, hormones, strife. [Read more...]