Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection

I’ve mentioned before that I love the story of Rainbow Crow, the beautiful Lenape tale of how the crow got its black feathers and hoarse, croaking caw. It’s a terrific story.

But I do not want to see “Rainbow Crow: The Movie.” The story is perfect as it is — as a story that can be told in less than five minutes, 10 if you really milk it. It shouldn’t be turned into a 90-minute movie or into a three-hour epic because it is not a 90-minute story or a three-hour epic. Trying to turn it into one would change the story and turn it into a different kind of story.

Russell Crowe as Noah, Earl of Locksley

And that would be wrong on several levels. It would be as disastrous as an epic movie about “So this gorilla walks into a bar …”

Which is why I think Darren Aronofsky’s “upcoming epic, Noah,” now filming in Iceland, is just a very, very bad idea.

I love the story of Noah. It is epic in scope and in setting, but it is not an epic story. It’s a very short story painted in broad strokes. It is a story that does not work when not painted in broad strokes.

In the Bible, the entire Noah saga is 88 verses long, and those 88 verses cover more than 100 years. Read it out loud, slowly, and it will take you only about 20 minutes. That’s how long this story is: about 20 minutes.

That’s how long it should be. Make it any longer than that and you change it — change what it is and change what it means.

* * * * * * * * *

I generally take a pretty skeptical view toward Scientology, but I’ll say this for them: They have some pretty good actors in their community.

My own evangelical tradition, on the other hand, has Kirk Cameron and this: Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.

Yes, of course it’s a scam. AMTC, that is, not Scientology. It seems to be a Jesus-flavored variation of the old modeling-scout con. (“You’ll be a huge star! You just need lessons …”)

Many people hold that Scientology is a scam, too, with adherents reportedly required to pay big bucks to advance through the levels of the “religion.” But even so, Scientology can point to the careers of, for example, Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi and Beck, as well as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. So unlike Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, Scientology is, at least, a scam that’s given us some memorable performances.

 

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  • MikeJ

    JD Salinger, Darby Crash,  William Burroughs, Van Morrison…Looks like being an ex-scientologist is the way to go.  Must be something to the idea of suffering for your art.

  • Magic_Cracker

    But even so, Scientology can point to the careers of …  Beck

    Mutations was the best album of the 1990s, hands down. “The skin of a robot vibrates with pleasure…”

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Beck is strange enough that Scientology almost seems like a good fit for him.  Brilliant, but strange.

    I assume that, after the plot’s been laid out in the Noah film, the remaining hour 30 minutes will be spent showing him gather up two of every of the millions of species of insect, freshwater fish, amphibian, et cetera.  That’ll be a loooooooong montage sequence.

    (Question for the pious: where do all the plants come from after they’ve been washed away in the flood?)

  • The_L1985

     Beck was raised Scientologist, IIRC.  It would certainly explain a lot.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    But even so, Scientology can point to the careers of, for example,
    Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi and Beck, as well as Tom Cruise and John
    Travolta. So unlike Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, Scientology
    is, at least, a scam that’s given us some memorable performances.

    The difference there is that Scientology actively recruits people who are already famous.  Then they have their famous recruits go and recruit their peers.

    AMTC just promises fame to people who don’t know any better.  They’re a vanity publisher for the actor set.

  • heckblazer

    Not in the case of Beck though.  He was born into the church.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     Not in the case of Beck though.  He was born into the church.

    I saw that.  I didn’t realize that was possible for someone who’s decades older than, y’know, Suri Cruise.

  • Cathy W

    Scientology has been around since the early ’50s, I think.

  • heckblazer

    Hubbard founded the church in 1952.

  • Mrs Grimble

    The difference there is that Scientology actively recruits people who are already famous.

    Not in the case of Elizabeth Moss, they didn’t.  Her (non-famous)  parents were Scientologists and she was born and raised within Scientology.  Then she got famous.

  • Prankster36

    Huh. For possibly the first time ever, I simply don’t get where Fred is coming from. Why would making a movie about Noah change the story? I mean, I certainly see how they COULD change it/ruin it, but I don’t see how expanding it would *inherently* do so.  For that matter, while I understand why Fred has an attachment to the story of Noah, I’m not sure why changing it can’t produce a good movie either. Timothy Findley wrote a good book called “Not Wanted on the Voyage”, which tells the story of Noah while making plenty of changes (it’s unlikely to appeal to the deeply religious, as it casts Noah as a monster and Satan as a sympathetic figure).

    Perhaps more importantly, this is Darren Aronofsky we’re talking about, one of the finest filmmakers currently working. I’m actually most excited by the idea of him tackling an epic fantasy story (not making a commentary on religion or anything, just saying this would clearly belong in the “fantasy” genre) . “The Fountain” was a pretty great movie, and that’s the closest thing we’ve seen from him to an epic.

    If this was just a random Hollywood hack then I’d share Fred’s trepidation, but the creative talent behind the movie makes all the difference.

  • The_L1985

     Did you see the NBC movie about Noah about 10 years ago?  It was horrible, and for some reason there was a second ship–piloted by Lot, of all people.

    There just isn’t much you can cram into a 2-hour movie to pad out a 10-minute story, without dramatically changing both the tone and the content of the story.

  • Prankster36

     OK, but comparing Aronofsky to the brain trust behind those NBC TV Movies is like saying “Of course Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie won’t be any good, did you see Albert Pyun’s Captain America?”

    It really seems like there’s a fair amount of potential story there–there’s probably a lot leading UP to the flood, for a start.

  • Lori

     

    Why would making a movie about Noah change the story? 

    I obviously don’t know what Fred is thinking, but if I had to guess I’d say it has something to do with the fact that in order to be movie-length that story will have to be extended and given a lot of extraneous detail and generally treated as a Thing That Could Happen. Fred doesn’t think the flood literally happened or that that’s the point of the story.

  • Vermic

    Fred doesn’t think the flood literally happened or that that’s the point of the story.

    That leads me to wonder, I think for the first time: what is the point of the Noah story, anyway?  Reading it as allegory and not a factual account, what is the spiritual/moral lesson we are meant to derive from it?

    Was Battlefield Earth intended to be an allegory for/reference to any aspect of Scientology, or was it unrelated?

    I’ve heard that the Psychlos (the evil alien race in BE) are meant to represent psychologists, to whom Hubbard and Scientology were and are famously opposed, but that BE is not overall an allegory.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Battlefield Earth actually doesn’t have much of anything to do with Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard named the evil alien Psychlos because he hated psychiatrists, and there’s an alien race that seems to exist to impart wisdom to everyone else called “Clinkos”* (whom iirc were called “Chinkos” in the book), but that’s about it. It’s just a crappy sci-fi book, though the movie supposedly actually has an even crappier plot than the book. I’ve never seen any credible source say it has anything to do with Scientology, though Scientologists were told to go see it.

    *I should explain that L. Ron Hubbard was massively racist, as is the con he created, and he said “the problem with China is that there are too many gooks there”. He also claimed to have gone deep into the hinterlands of China to learn secrets from mystics who had never seen a white man before, which is, of course, bullshit, and racist Orientalist bullshit at that. 

  • Mrs Grimble

    I should explain that L. Ron Hubbard was massively racist, as is the con
    he created, and he said “the problem with China is that there are too
    many gooks there”. He also claimed to have gone deep into the
    hinterlands of China to learn secrets from mystics who had never seen a
    white man before, which is, of course, bullshit, and racist Orientalist
    bullshit at that

    Hubbard was full of it – he also claimed to have been totally self-taught and never have gone to school, to have learned native wisdom from a Blackfoot medicine man as a child and to have decisively repelled an attempted Japanese invasion of California during WWII. 
    I’m quite surprised that he left out his meetings with African witchdoctors and his role in the development of the atom bomb.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    That leads me to wonder, I think for the first time: what is the point of the Noah story, anyway? Reading it as allegory and not a factual account, what is the spiritual/moral lesson we are meant to derive from it?

    Well, according to my current RTC reading, The Secret on Ararat, there are several reasons: the story is a warning not to be like people were in Noah’s time because Jesus Smash, also finding the ark proves the Bible is true facts, also finding the ark disaproves the evil theory of evolution.

    So, you can see that it’s a winner in many ways.  ;)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Reading it as allegory and not a factual account, what is the spiritual/moral lesson we are meant to derive from it?

    I can’t speak to what we’re meant to derive from it.
    My personal take-away from it is:
    * God is capable, both physically and ethically, of destruction on an unimaginable scale. Therefore, no matter how bad things are, we should all be thankful to God for not having made them much MUCH worse.
    * Obedience to God is important, not just for ethical reasons, but also because sometimes it’s the only thing that lets you avoid the oncoming Flood.
    * Some people are so much better than everyone else that even when destruction is merited on a large scale, considerable effort is devoted to ensuring that those individuals are spared. (See also Sodom. Compare and contrast with Nineveh.)
    * No disaster is so all-encompassing that we cannot start over and thrive.
    * Sometimes a project is so fucked up that all you can do, even if omnipotent and omniscient, is wipe it clean and start over.
    * Doing so usually doesn’t actually help.
    * Kids who don’t cover up for their drunken fathers will not do well in later life.

    I endorse some of these lessons more than others.
    I find some of them reprehensible.

  • Joshua

    That leads me to wonder, I think for the first time: what is the point of the Noah story, anyway?  Reading it as allegory and not a factual account, what is the spiritual/moral lesson we are meant to derive from it?

    OK, wall of text. Hopefully Disqus doesn’t chew my paragraphs.

    IMHO, and I’m not actually a preacher and so don’t have to do this kind of thing professionally, morals about “God miraculously helps us through great difficulties so hang in there” are far easier to draw from other stories in the Bible, both mythical ones and ones that I take as historical. Because, of course, there are many other stories where God isn’t directly the cause of the difficulties. So while you could, I personally wouldn’t bother.

    The Israelite authors and editors of the story as we have it in Genesis must have had a good reason to include it, as writing was such a hassle that anything without evident value would have been dropped. I expect that their reasons included the following:

      i) It was already a holy and ancient story. We have written versions of it from predecessor civilisations going back, what, another thousand years?

     ii) It is the first example of the idea of covenant that became a central idea in Judaism, where God makes an agreement with a representative person. This came into full flower with Abraham, but is a thread going through many parts of the First Testament, and as I understand it (and any Jewish readers, please do enlighten me if I’ve misunderstood) modern Judaism as well.

      iii) The early monotheist period didn’t have an evil Satan figure to blame bad stuff on, God is more kinda beyond good and evil, so the idea that God saves humanity from his own wrath against humanity would not have been as jarring as it does now, to our Christian-influenced reading of the story.

    The meaning I personally draw from it is that it’s great how we have a documented example of the way our holy myths are continuous with the myths of other cultures, not dropped from heaven on a stick, and of how reading the Bible as completely literal and inerrant is a dumb idea. Some parts of the Bible work best as an example of what to avoid.

  • Tonio

    Yes, the Flood story does sound far different to people like myself who are familiar only with the Christian context. I couldn’t have even told you how modern Judaism reads the story. .

  • Tonio

    The final segment of Fantasia 2000 told the Flood story in a way that I thought was touching, and this from someone who is repulsed by the theology that the story embodies. I wonder if Aronosfky’s film will show the aftermath when Noah seems to descend into alcoholism. (At least, that’s how I read that section of Genesis. As a teenager, I was confused as to why he would touch wine if he was supposed to be the last virtuous man on earth.)

    Aren’t there still some very extreme fundamentalists who think that Shem, Ham and Japeth resembled something like Brad Pitt, Chris Rock,and Jet Li?

  • Daughter

    See my reply to Vermic about how the 1999 Noah miniseries made allowances for race.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Recently I saw an article wondering why it’s so hard to make movies from Dr Seuss books. Seems obvious to me – you’ve got a 10 minute story (25 if Thurl Ravenscroft is singing). Spreading it out to 90 minutes means you have to put in a lot of stuff that isn’t clever wordplay or stealth lessons – in short, a lot of stuff that isn’t Dr Seuss.

  • The_L1985

    That’s why I prefer the old 30-minute films from the 60’s.  Not only was Seuss still alive at the time (and presumably involved with the production of the mini-movies), but they’re not padded to a ridiculous level.

    Compare the old, animated “The Cat in the Hat” to the Mike Myers movie.  On second thought, don’t, because that would require actually watching the Mike Myers one.

  • Magic_Cracker

    There have to be better Old Testament stories to use for action-blockbuster fodder… ox-goad guy for instance, to cite one that Fred has mentioned in the past. A bio-epic of David seems workable to me — lots of politics, war, betrayal and sex — you have him kill Goliath in the first act; the second act can be devoted to power struggles and becoming king; and the third act deals with Absalom’s rebellion and become a meditation on cost of attaining and retaining power… I’d say you could do all that in 3-3 1/2 hours, no?

  • heckblazer

    David might work better as a TV series.  Like, um, Kings.  

  • phranckeaufile

    There was already a series based on the David story. It was called The Sopranos.

  • Michael Mock

    I don’t know that I can ever forgive Scientology, simply because of the mere existence of Battlefield Earth.

    I watched it. I watched it because I’d been reading reviews of it, and every single one of them insisted that the thing was absolutely abysmal, and they were so unified in that opinion that I found myself thinking, “Really? It can’t be as bad as all that.” 

    Lesson learned. Turns out it can be as bad as all that.

  • The_L1985

    I thought it was OK, but then I’ve never read the book.

  • Lori

     

    I don’t know that I can ever forgive Scientology, simply because of the mere existence of Battlefield Earth.  

    That’s the one thing I feel like a sort of owe Scientology for. Living in LA I received many an annoying offer for an introductory audit and the Celebrity Center got on my last good nerve on multiple levels, but Battlefield Earth was a couple of very amusing hours.

    Of course, it was amusing because I watched it on DVD with some friends and we gave it the slightly tipsy MST3K treatment so maybe I don’t owe Scientology as much as Jose Cuervo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Was Battlefield Earth intended to be an allegory for/reference to any aspect of Scientology, or was it unrelated?

  • Lori

    I’m probably not the right person to ask. I wasn’t kidding about Jose Cuervo. I had a couple of margaritas before/during the viewing and my analytical skills were not at their sharpest. I’m also a little vague on the details of Scientology, so it’s possible that even if I had been stone sober any possible references would have passed me by.

    I do know that John Travolta’s make-up, lines and delivery were hilarious, which is a problem for the film since it wasn’t intended as a comedy. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Was Battlefield Earth intended to be an allegory for/reference to any aspect of Scientology, or was it unrelated?

    Only insofar as Hubbard hated psychologists, thinking them greedy phonies who are only out to get other people’s money by selling mental snake oil, and he forbid his followers from going to see them.

    Which says quite a bit about Hubbard’s lack of self awareness.

    Anyway, he made it a little allegorical in that the evil invading galactic conqueror aliens are called Psychlos and are extremely greedy, seeking to plunder the Earth of gold. I suspect that their silliness in the film was Hubbard’s posthumous attempt to make psychologists look ridiculous (according to Travolta, Hubbard left extensive notes on how he wanted that story adapted to the screen.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Which says quite a bit about Hubbard’s lack of self awareness.

    Well, either that, or he just didn’t want the competition.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    At the risk of defending Hubbard, I am given to understand that he had a lot of specific complaints about specific psychiatric methods, largely involving practices which modern psychiatry agrees to be barbaric (Namely the use of lobotomy and ECT in all but the most severe of cases)

  • LouisDoench

     Battlefield earth is one of my absolute favorite awful movies.

  • Wingedwyrm

    I think the story of Noah and the Ark can be extended.  Of course, I think it’s legitimately extended by pointing out the inherant immorality held within the genocide of all human kind for wickedness or for half-angel Nephalim portion, the inherent cruelty of showing a rainbow (the tool of genocide) after rains just as a reminder of how God can kill us all again, but won’t.

    In some ways, the story does work when only painted in broad strokes that, because it doesn’t go into detail, can ignore other things that would be made blatantly obvious if painted in a 90 to 120 min feature.  In some ways, though, those things should be made blatantly obvious and the question does need to be asked if this is an example of acceptable morality.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Exactly.  On one hand, I feel like a story about slowly drowning toddlers can’t really be short enough.  On the other, maybe if some True Believers saw on a big screen what the story actually entails (as opposed to simply giraffes on a big boat and a pretty rainbow in the sky), maybe they would think just a bit more deeply about the personality of their deity of choice.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    On the other, maybe if some True Believers saw on a big screen what the story actually entails (as opposed to simply giraffes on a big boat and a pretty rainbow in the sky), maybe they would think just a bit more deeply about the personality of their deity of choice.

    Back in my Yeshiva days, we were asked to illustrate a bunch of Bible stories. I got Noah, and I did a drawing of a bunch of drowned villagers (and also many cattle) with the keel of a boat just barely visible high above them. This was not appreciated.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    It never ceases to amaze (and horrify) me, how many baby items have a Noah’s ark theme.  People want to decorate their kids’ rooms with a story of global genocide?  Really?

  • PJ Evans

     Really, all they use is the Ark and the animals.
    My favorite version is this one.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Well, yes, presumably and hopefully, they don’t actually include the bodies in the kiddie decorations.  But the story does contain millions of corpses.  I just find it kinda spooky to use such an awful story to decorate a child’s room.  Surely, if one wanted to use animals as a theme, there are many much happier stories to use.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    One of my very favorite stories when I was a child contains cannibalism, burning someone alive, and parents trying to lose their children in the forest, where said children would hopefully starve to death.

    Another contains a big cauldron into which people are tossed unwillingly. They emerge as soulless corpses, ready to do whatever the person who tortured them and their families to death tells them to do. The cauldron is only destroyed when someone jumps into it willingly to destroy it, destroying his soul as well in the process. (I believed in an immortal soul then.)

    Harry Potter’s parents were murdered when he was a toddler, by a man who wanted to murder him. He has nightmares about this. Harry Potter was then heinously neglected and emotionally abused by his caretakers until he was 11 years old. Well, he was still emotionally abused and neglected by them afterwards, he just got a respite. That’s far from the only terrible thing in the books.

    I have never understood the idea that children’s stories should be happy happy joy joy all the time. Kids can take horror. Kids seek out horror, in fact.  

  • SisterCoyote

    “I’ve got a children’s book, too! It’s called F— it, We’re All Going to Die. Newberry, please!”

    (Reference: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/221843/march-16-2009/neil-gaiman)

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I know kids can take horror.  I enjoyed my fair share of dark tales when I was a kid.

    But I do think that decorating a baby’s room with cartoony pictures of animals floating on a boat, and pretending that it’s some happy, fuzzy story of lambs and lions hugging, is more than a little grotesque.  The story is about millions of people drowning, and that isn’t changed by painting smiles on the faces of a pair of hippos.

  • Joshua


    The story is about millions of people drowning, and that isn’t changed by painting smiles on the faces of a pair of hippos. 

    Now Neil Gaiman should have a go at that. Readers would be seeing the aware grin on the hippos’ faces as they desperately try to sleep for the rest of their lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s fair enough. Hippos scare me way more than the story of Noah’s Ark ever did.

    I’ve heard that the Psychlos (the evil alien race in BE) are meant to
    represent psychologists, to whom Hubbard and Scientology were and are
    famously opposed, but that BE is not overall an allegory.

    Well, that’s Hubbard for you. As subtle as a screaming, ravenous hippo crashing through your bedroom window at night.

    I’m probably not the right person to ask. I wasn’t kidding about Jose
    Cuervo. I had a couple of margaritas before/during the viewing and my
    analytical skills were not at their sharpest.

    That was probably an incredibly wise choice. The movie is awful when sober; it just drones on and on and 95% of the actors aren’t even interesting to watch in a so-bad-they’re-good way; they’re just boring in the same way that listening to a bored kid listlessly read Shakespeare lines from an index card is boring. Oh, and the writing is mind-numbing too.

    It’s like if Left Behind had attempted to do crude world-building by introducing tedious and unimaginative science fiction concepts (like having the heroes all use “zap-guns” instead of “guns” and drink “stimu-shakes” instead of “milk-shakes”) — or some crap like that; it has no meaningful effect on the world and doesn’t even look coo

  • Jim Roberts

    “The story is about millions of people drowning.”
    According to the oldest writings in the Mishnah, it was less than 10 000. That’s how many people were believed to be alive at the time. And chances are, when the Noah story was written that number was even lower.

    You’re applying the actual numbers in the very real world to a Bronze Age folk tale. You might as well swoon at the risk Jack takes with one endangered species (gold-laying swans) while killing another (the giant).

  • Tonio

    The whitewashing of the Flood in art is merely an example of deliberately obscuring gruesomeness. The real issue is the morality involved in the most common reading of the Flood story, as opposed to the story itself. According to that reading, the massive amount of death was a righteous punishment by an omnibenevolent being. Meaning that the entire human race was evil and worthless and got what was coming to them. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    No, the moral of the Flood story is that God loves us and all of creation and therefore helped save us from a disaster. Also, don’t give up, because if Noah and his family could save all these living things with the help of God, you can do anything with the help of God. I don’t believe in either of those morals any longer, but that is what the story is, as it was transmitted to me.

    You can’t take a story like this and say “this is the One Lesson there is and therefore it is a bad story.” Is Cinderella about how virtue is rewarded, or is it about how being pretty is all that matters? Is Hansel and Gretel about how you shouldn’t trust women living alone and stepmothers, or about how girls can be smart enough to save themselves and their brothers? Is Beauty and the Beast about how love has nothing to do with appearance, or about how women need to suck it up in marriage? 

  • Wingedwyrm

    “the moral of the Flood story is that God loves us and all of creation and therefore helped save us from a disaster.”

    That’s the moral of a heavily edited Noah story.  In order to get that the people who told you that story started with the story of Noah and the Ark from the bible, edited out the fact that God caused the flood (and purposely so), either edited out that there were other human beings or accused them of being universally “wicked” and thus conveniently ignored all thought of those wicked people having children in their families (which the bible also does), and waved the surviving family (also editing their story during and post flood, because the moral problems do not stop there) like a warm&fuzzy hand to distract from any remaining moral problems.

    Without both the editing and the distraction, what the moral of the story, as shown in the bible, is less “God will help save you from disaster” and more “God might spare you from his wrath.”

  • Joshua

    Morals are in the eye of the beholder, especially in the case of an anonymous document worked over by multiple editors that records a far more ancient oral tradition that adapted in the telling.

    There’s no original author we can ask what moral she or he intended, even in principle. So we create the morals ourselves, often only using one aspect of the story. Making Lliira’s just as “legitimate” as yours.

  • Wingedwyrm

    If we’re talking about which story is the legitimate story, and that discussion had nothing to do with Christianity or the bible, sure, there’d be no one legitimate Noah’s Ark tale.

    If, on the other hand, we’re having the conversation I believe we’re having here, which is about the story of Noah’s Ark as is normative to the story in the bible, the question of whether or not her moral is actually in line with the one in the bible does have a clear answer.

  • Joshua

    If, on the other hand, we’re having the conversation I believe we’re having here, which is about the story of Noah’s Ark as is normative to the story in the bible, the question of whether or not her moral is actually in line with the one in the bible does have a clear answer.

    I agree with the letter of what you say here, but not the wider whole of your argument. The concrete text itself has a fixed meaning, but that meaning does not include one single, correct, moral. Or even morals at all. The text does not say, “Here is what this story is supposed to mean, morally,” like some of Jesus’ parables or like (parts of) the Narnia books. In the absence of an original author, even someone like me who doesn’t go for death-of-the-author styles of literary analysis has to admit that the morals we draw from it are our constructions, not required by the text.

    So I agree with you in so far as, say, a moral about how cybernetics will eat your soul (I’ll omit the TV tropes link) would be a clearly invalid moral, because there’s nothing in the text that refers to cybernetics at all; but no further.

    These stories are used by Christians, to construct morals, as a source of allusions, as material for preaching or devotional reading. We do not solely provide exegesis of a text and leave it at that.

    When we construct morals, we do not necessarily attempt to cover every bit of the plot. We might one day use the story to justify how nice wine is, the next to celebrate rainbows, next week use it as an allusion about the moral decay these days, and how the young people don’t get off my lawn, as in the days of Noah.

    I think these processes are valid, and judging a moral against a comprehensive exegesis of the text isn’t. Because the text doesn’t say it has one or what it is.

  • Wingedwyrm

    Joshua, there’s a difference between a moral not taking every element of a story into account before being derived from said story and the moral not being able to work unless you explicitly ignore parts of the story.

    The moral of “God helps us through trajegies” doesn’t derive from the story of God singling out a favorite human to save when venting his wrath upon the rest of humanity.  Sure, it does derive from the *different* story that Lliira referenced, but that’s just the thing, that is a different story.

    It would be as valid to derive morals regarding cybernetics from the biblical Noah’s Ark story as it would to derive a moral about God helping someone through trial and tribulation.

    And, do note, I’m not arguing that the moral of a story has to be limited to one moral or to what an author intends or even that a valid moral to be derived from a story can’t actually be counter to what the author intends.  But, the moral does have to follow from what happened in the story and, if it has to explicitly ignore parts of what happened in the story then it doesn’t follow.  Neither am I arguing that rewriting a story to present a different moral that just doesn’t work from the original or isn’t as readily appearant from the original is necessarily a bad thing.

    I am, on the other hand saying that, when it comes to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the morality thereof, there is serious moral problem there, even when taken allegorically.

  • Joshua

    Well, as for the start of your reply, I won’t repeat myself. I guess we must agree to differ. But as for this:


    I am, on the other hand saying that, when it comes to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the morality thereof, there is serious moral problem there, even when taken allegorically. 

    I quite agree. In my reply to Vermic above, you’ll notice that it was a little short on moral truths I apply in my own life, and what there was was qualified by the comment that other parts of the Bible illustrated those truths better.

  • Tonio

    Wingedwyrm’s response has many of my own objections. The disaster was the work of the god so the being doesn’t deserve any credit for saving anyone from it. Almost all of “us” murdered in the deluge. There’s no point to comparing the flood story with those fairy tales because they don’t come from a body of work that describes, say, tyrannical stepmothers as good. A better comparison would be Left Behind, where a protagonist like Rayford is described as virtuous but he treats people shabbily.

  • PJ Evans

     Is there some reason for why you’re insisting that it be taken literally?

  • hidden_urchin

    Kids seek out horror, in fact.

    It’s really funny you should mention that.  I was just thinking the other day how much I loved horror as a kid.  There was one book I checked out from the library every couple of months in grade school.  It was a horror anthology.  I read DRACULA in the third grade.  (I was a strange child.)

    At some point I lost my interest in horror.  I am only just now rediscovering that love.  It was, and is, cathartic for me.

  • Wingedwyrm

    It’s worth noting that the ones burning people alive, shoving people into cauldrons, murdering parents and trying to murder Harry Potter were all considered bad guys.  Putting Noah’s Ark up on children’s wallpaper is delivering something of a different message with context.  “You, too, can be complicit with genocide.”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Except genocide really isn’t how it’s taught, neither to kids nor to adults. I’m not saying that’s right, just that lots of people really do see it only as a story of happy animals on a boat. Plus, every Christian isn’t even taught that God caused the flood. I was taught that there was a flood and God helped this dude save enough animals so that they wouldn’t go extinct, but that God did not actually cause the flood. Also that the whole thing was either completely made up or grossly exaggerated. 

    Lots of Christians do not actually believe all the stuff that’s written in the Bible, even the stories they like. 

  • Wingedwyrm

    Nobody’s saying that anybody has to take the flood story literally.  But, there is a massive amount of dishonesty to editing it to either be A. just a bunch of cute animals with smiling faces on a boat or B. God helping one guy out (which, in itself, still has a huge problem).

    And, for the most part, children are taught that God caused the flood.  There are childrens’ books that talk about how wicked humankind was that God felt the need to pour his wrath out.  Speaking as a former Methodist, I was, indeed, taught that God caused the flood (though not taught that this had to be literal) and simultaniously presented with the happy-fuzzy-animals-on-a-boat imagery.

    The common presentation of this story, as well as the story of the 10 Plagues, as well as the story of Genesis, all involves, even with non-literal interpretations, a heavy amount of handwaving to look away from and not even notice problematic elements.

  • The_L1985

     Was this the series of Bible picture books written in rhyme?  My school had the ones about Rachael and Leah, and the one about Nebuchadnezzar acting like a wild beast.

  • Tonio

    every Christian isn’t even taught that God caused the flood.

    Wow. I’ve never heard that suggestion before. Many fundamentalists apparently believe that the Genesis god’s promise covered only worldwide flooding, and that Earth’s next destruction would be by fire. A mere legal loophole.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yeah, I’m not saying my family was normal. But we went to two big, prosperous churches, which followed different traditions, and they both taught that the flood was a story, not literal. Jesus resurrected from the dead and healing people was literal… probably, but what he taught was most important. Anything before Jesus in the Bible should be respected, and believed if it went along with Jesus’ teachings. If it went against Jesus’ teachings that God loves us and needs us to love each other, it should be taken with a dump truck of salt and seen as an artifact of its times. This was taught to me in both the Lutheran church I went to in Michigan and the Baptist/Mennonite/Quaker/Friends church I went to in the Shenandoah. Neither church was perfect of course, but when I see what right-wing Christians today are shouting about, and what therefore so many people seem to think Christianity is “really” about, it’s like the Twilight Zone. 

  • hidden_urchin

    Plus, every Christian isn’t even taught that God caused the flood.

    Really?  I guess they skip Genesis 7:4. 

    Anyway, the story of the Flood, as best as I remember it, is based on even earlier Mesopotamian stories.  Re-reading it, I think that it is probably a tale of death and rebirth more than anything else.  It reminds me a bit of Shiva dancing the destruction of the universe so it could be created again.  I don’t find it very different from a lot of our current stories about the end of this civilization due to plague/zombies/ EMPs where survivors have to rebuild (and the focus is always more on the survivors than the people who die).  People seem to be fascinated with the idea of starting over and trying to get it right this time.  

    I also think that the story suffers more in the current time due to our cultural aversion to death and living in a time when large portions of the population do not die in famines or epidemics (in the West, at least).  The idea that, even if many individuals died, humanity as a whole would always continue would probably be more comforting than horrifying for a society that regularly saw the loss of many, many members due to what would appear to be the whim of a deity.

    The problem, as usual, is when someone tries to take something that is true in a mythic sense and insist it is factually accurate. sigh

  • Tonio

    Numerous religions have Flood stories, and there are theories about these originating at the end of the last Ice Age, particularly the Black Sea transforming from an inland lake. The difference with Genesis is that the Flood was a deliberate act, so that throws aside any allegorical meanings and makds the focus on the act’s motivations and morality. It would be far more useful as an allegory if the Flood was a natural event.

  • Michael Mock

    hidden_urchin – I’d throw Atlas Shrugged into that list, too. The world is irredeemably horrible, let’s watch it fall / tear it all down, and then let those who have proved their worthiness (by, y’know, not dying) build something better from the rubble. In fact, if you count Galt’s Gulch as a sort of Ark, it’s very much the same story…

    It’s not a fantasy that stands up to any sort of moral scrutiny, but there are days when I can see the appeal.

  • The_L1985

     Er, that first story is Hansel and Gretel.  And it is most definitely the “good guys” (the kids) burning the “bad guys” (the witch) alive in that story.  They throw her in an oven.  With visible flames in it.

  • Wingedwyrm

    Okay, with regards to Hansel and Gretel, we have at least the knowledge that these were two small chiledren, with very limited power, acting in self-defense against a witch who, by the way, was the one roasting children alive despite a lack of definite need to do so.

    And, no, I don’t think that the childrens books I’m referring to were written in rhyme.  I do remember popup books in Sunday School, one of which allowed one to pull a tab and make the animals get on the boat, make the rain fall, make the animals do something else on the boat, make the animals get off the boat, etc.

    So, in terms of sermons, in terms of sunday school lessons, in terms of stories told before naptime, and in terms of books printed explicitly for the purpose of telling these stories to children told of God creating the flood, because everybody was so wicked, and casually ignoring what that wickedness consisted of and whether or not any families included children who’s entire wickedness consisted of being decendants of the wrong people.

    Though, it is worth noting that, at other points in the bible, being born to the wrong ancestry is treated as a serious sin.

  • The_L1985

     I know 2 of those, but I’m drawing a blank on the 2nd one.  Is that the plot of The Black Cauldron?  Because I neither read the book nor saw the Disney movie.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s The Black Cauldron. I think I saw the Disney movie once, and I can’t remember any of it, except that Taran and Eilonwy were way too young iirc. The book, however, was a formative one for me.

  • Tonio

    That’s what I’ve been saying. That boate was probably surrounded by bloated corpses.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    I thought Bill Cosby’s interpretation of the Flood story (well, really the prequel to the Flood, I guess; the negotiations between THE LORD and Noah) was sufficient and painted wonderful pictures in the listeners’ heads. No film necessary for me, thanks!

  • Tonio

     RRIGHT!

  • VorJack

    My understanding is that they plan to involve the Watchers, so apparently they’re incorporating the version of the story told in 1st Enoch.

  • Magic_Cracker

    My understanding is that they plan to involve the Watchers…

    Buffy Watchers or Fantastic Four Watchers? Or this Watcher?

  • Michael Mock

     Highlander: the Series watchers, naturally. ‘Cause there’s that one immortal who has to wait out the whole flood at the bottom of the waters.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I forgot about those guys! [hangs head, turns in geek-card, slowly shuffles away]

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I would imagine that this Immie’s dialogue would be somewhat like that famous scene using just one word in “The Wire”. 

  • Jim Roberts

    These watchers:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watcher_(angel)
    Hint: The book of Enoch is weird. Like, Aronofsky levels of weird.

  • The_L1985

     The…Watchers?  As in, the Kabbalistic Watchers?

    I am almost tempted to watch the movie just for that.

  • cjmr

    voopa…voopa…voopa….PING!

  • vsm

    This is indeed a curious pick for a Biblical story to adapt. God is a genocidal maniac, the story is largely without conflict until the climax, which will involve Russell Crowe passing out with his junk out and cursing his grandson because his son caught a glimpse of Lil’ Russ. There’s a brilliant South Park episode there, but I have no idea how Cecil B. DeMille would have played it.

    I wonder just why the studio decided to tell this story now. Biblical epics are passé, and I’m not sure you could tell at least this particular story without starting up yet another front in the culture wars. That will mean the film will be either loved or boycotted by the Christian Right, neither of which is all that desirable.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Sure, if I tell a feature-film-length version of the story of Noah, I tell a different story than if I tell a chapter-in-Genesis-length version of it, or a comic-book-length version, or a TV-show-episode-length version, or a sonnet-length version.

    And, sure, all of those choices change the story I’m telling.

    I can understand being skeptical of the movie. But changing the story isn’t a bad thing per se. The world is not worse for the existence of West Side Story, despite it not being Romeo and Juliet. Heck, I even thought the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are was pretty friggin’ awesome.

    If they want to tell their version of the story of Noah as a feature-length film, that’s cool with me. It might even be good.

  • Kiba

    Hmm seems that the first Noah’s Ark movie was made in 1928, running 135 mins and was a part-talkie film. 
    http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/85178/Noah-s-Ark/
    Trivia: The flood portion of that film is what lead to the stunt safety regulations. 

  • Vermic

    Wikipedia says Kevin Durand co-stars as “Og, a giant six-armed angel who helps Noah and his family.”  And although Og is a Biblical figure, it’s hard to imagine a serious, successful presentation of such a character; on the other hand, if any director can make it possible, it’s Darren Aronofsky.

    Adaptations of Lord of the Rings tend to leave out Tom Bombadil, because it’s challenging enough to present this strange individual in a non-ridiculous way that most directors don’t bother.  So I give props to Aronofsky for his courage, at least, to say, “Yes, the six-armed giant, let’s keep that.”  (That said, he’s probably fighting pressure from the studio to make Og able to turn into a truck.)

    NBC made a Noah’s Ark miniseries in 1999, which IIRC was roundly ridiculed by all.  I seem to recall God bringing the animals to the ark so that Noah wouldn’t have to get them, and Noah & family fending off pirates because, of course, they weren’t the only ones who owned a boat.

  • Daughter

    My roommates and I watched part of that miniseries, laughing the whole time, until it was clear it was so ridiculous it wasn’t worth out time.

    Noah (played by Jon Voigt, IIRC) and his family were white, but his daughters-in-law were three different races: one was black, one was white and one was Asian. Noah’s sons are layabouts, and in one scene in which Dad chides them, the boys end up taking the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkey pose.

  • The_L1985

     Re: NBC Noah, you forgot the funniest part–the pirates are run by Lot.  You know, Abraham’s nephew.  A guy who shouldn’t exist for at least another 1000 years or so after the story of Noah.

  • Mark Z.

    That “pillar of salt” was Lot’s TARDIS, when it wasn’t disguising itself as his wife.

  • LouisDoench

    Noah & family fending off pirates because, of course, they weren’t the only ones who owned a boat.

    OMG I never fucking thought of that! How could I have lived 43 years, 25 of them as a blasphemous heathen and not have thought of that? (hangs head in shame…)

  • Tricksterson

    I still think Tom Bombadil would have worked as long as he was played by Robin Williams

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Adaptations of Lord of the Rings tend to leave out Tom Bombadil,
    because it’s challenging enough to present this strange individual in a
    non-ridiculous way that most directors don’t bother.

    I daresay that even Tolkein himself failed at that task.

  • Kiba

    And because Mr. Clark has given me an earworm….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eubQfKYFOPc

  • Emcee, cubed

     Yes, but unlike many, it’s a GOOD earworm. As I always say, it’s impossible to stay in a bad mood while watching a frog play a banjo…

  • LouisDoench

     “The banjo is such a happy instrument–you can’t play a sad song on the banjo – it always comes out so cheerful.”


    Steve Martin

  • The_L1985

    One word:  Deliverance.

  • Vermic

    You know who could make a Noah’s Ark film work?  The Muppets.  Come to think of it, they could also make a Rainbow Crow film work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Yeah, but after the Chick-Fill-A thing, would any RTC watch it? Would a studio put money into a bible adaption, knowing full well that the RTC would condemn it?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

     “You know who could make a Noah’s Ark film work?  The Muppets.”

    Wow, now I’ve got “We’ve got cabin fever…” running through my brain :P

  • Matri

    Gee, thanks. Did you have to share it? :P

  • LoneWolf343

    Russel Crowe playing Noah? It means that, at some point, Noah punches out a T-Rex.

    I really want to see this movie.

    Also, Scientology goes after existing “talent,” (as in, money,) so that’s why it looks like they have the market in it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679485013 Brad Raley

    This will be a climate change movie, I wager.  

  • ReverendRef

    I have a feeling that Evan Almighty will probably go down in history as a better Noah movie than the Russell Crowe version.

    jclor: Question for the pious: where do all the plants come from after they’ve been washed away in the flood?

    I’m thinking that the answer you’d get from Answers in Genesis and such would be along the lines of, “Seeds float.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687121933 Carrie Looney

    It’d have to be better than this for me to watch it.*runs away again*
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln64DYflGT4

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, MO, had a version of the Noah story called Noah, the Musical that ran for years. I don’t think Fred would have liked it, but his take on it would have made much more interesting reading than mine.

  • GDwarf

    Oh man, Book of Enoch version? This needs to be made. Nephilim! Giants! Fallen Angels!

    Plus, if you trust Japanese video game developers’ take on the scripture: Really tight designer jeans, pre-fall Satan with a cell phone, Enoch with magical battle-armour involved in mortal combat with the fallen angels (the more damage he takes, the less armour he’s wearing, until he’s down to his sprayed-on designer jeans), and visuals so trippy they’re on the far side of 2001:aSO.

  • The_L1985

     Depending no how well you handle certain controversial plot points, you may like the manga Angel Sanctuary. The OVA is sub-par and only covers the first 3 volumes, but the manga series is an emotional roller-coaster ride that incorporates just about every religious reference you can think of, from Dante to the Book of Enoch to the Eddas.  There are at least 50 angels, all of whom are named after traditional angels from the Bible and Kabbalah except for Alexiel, Rosiel, and Barbiel.

  • GDwarf

     I’ve heard a bit about Angel Sanctuary, and the basic concept seemed interesting, but I must admit to not being much of a manga fan. It’s just too expensive a hobby (…Says the man who used to play Magic and who still buys anime box sets…)

    I do generally like the obscure/apocryphal/non-canon books of the Bible. They’re generally weird*, but in an interesting way. For some reason, Japanese entertainment seems more cognizant of them than people here-abouts. I’ve seen far, far more anime/manga/games that deal with the Kabbala and such than I have western media.

    *Not to say that the books that are there aren’t sometimes very weird, but it’s a weirdness I grew up with, so it doesn’t really seem weird any more.

  • The_L1985

    There’s a reason I don’t collect manga anymore. ;) I do have all 20 volumes of Angel Sanctuary.  If there were the least chance you lived nearby, I’d loan them to you.

  • AnonymousSam

    Many people hold that Scientology is a scam, too, with adherents
    reportedly required to pay big bucks to advance through the levels of
    the “religion.

    I can confirm this. My SO used to be in Scientology. They also don’t start bringing up the lizard psychologist overlords and spirits trapped beneath the volcanoes in the Pacific until you’re very deep into it.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that the actors associated with Scientology are not privy to the zanier parts of the religion and only exist to be bled for money and present a happy, charismatic face to the public.

  • r2d3

    How does AMTC’s up-front policy fit the definition of a “scam”? They say clearly on their website: “AMTC is not an Agency.”

    A scam is a fraudulent business scheme.     

  • mirele

    Kind of like “Scientology is a religion.” Well, no, it’s an elaborate scheme for separating you from your money.  (Yes, I’m terribly biased on the subject, but I do believe I have good reason to be.)

  • Pat B

    I absolutely agree that Scientology is a scam, and that it was created out of a cynical attempt to control vulnerable people and take their money.

    But it gets a disproportionately bad rap; Mormonism, for instance, was created as an equally transparent scam by a literal convicted con-man and now it’s respectable enough that a Mormon can run for president (*sigh*). It even has aliens and named extra-solar planets like Kobol, and this was a religion which predated the idea of the sci-fi space opera.

    If we’re willing to be vocal against Scientology, there are tons of other religions out there who are 1) hurting their own followers through their dogmas (Jehovah’s Witnesses), 2) collecting money for their corrupt pedophilic hierarchies (Catholic Church), or 3) brainwashing followers and teaching them blatant untruths to control them (Insert Religion Here).

    The problem is; Scientology is (rightfully) unpopular, but where do you stop? There isn’t one religion on this entire planet which hasn’t done the same things Scientology has to one degree or another. I would rather Scientology exist and I have my rights than we can just declare any unpopular group not protected under the 1st amendment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Who said that Scientology shouldn’t be protected under the 1st amendment? Just because someone says something mean about them on the Internet doesn’t mean that their rights are being violated, and it’s not exactly as if groups like the Catholic Church aren’t criticized online either…

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Scientology does not get a disproportionately bad rap. It doesn’t get a bad enough rap, in fact. 

  • Ben English

     Thank you, so much. I needs to be said. Scientology, as a religion, as an organization, and as a cult, is guilty of every sin of every religion in the world is guilty of and carries none of the benefits. There is no escape, no love, nothing human. It isn’t a good idea corrupted by bad doctrine or wicked teachers. It isn’t a collections of myth and legend that explains an ancient societies’ view of the world or a promise of hope for the future. It is a corrupt cult of harmful, dogmatic brainwashing designed by its progenitor with the express purpose of fleecing people of their money.

    It ought to be dismantled.

  • mirele

    I don’t care what Scientologists believe–really, I don’t. In fact, one of my huge objections to the so-called “anti-cult movement” is that a lot of their complaints are based on religious dogma. That is, Scientology is wrong because it doesn’t line up with My Religious Belief Which Happens To Be The One Jesus Smiles Upon.

    That said, there are many reasons to criticize Scientology. I would direct you to (easiest, off the top of my head) the Village Voice, where editor in chief Tony Ortega has been doing yeoman’s work over the past few years documenting the evil that is Scientology. 

    For example, Scientology refused to let a mother (Karen de la Carriere) see her son (Alexander Jentzsch) after he died. That’s because Karen’s been kicked out of Scientology and under the terms of the “church’s” disconnection policy, she is a non-person. 

    Then there’s the fact that Scientology has a location just north of Hemet, California (called Gold Base) that has a couple of temporary buildings, which is known as The Hole. Dozens of Scientology’s top administrators are being held there in degrading conditions. 

    Also, Scientology has a drug rehab outfit called “Narconon.”  It’s a scam, it’s not a proper drug treatment facility. People have died at Narconon–three in the last year alone at Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma. (NBC’s Rock Center will be doing a telecast about Narconon on August 16). 

    I could go on and on, but my point is this–an organization that has a fake drug rehab (as in NO established studies proving its efficacy and based totally on the work of L. Ron Hubbard), holds its highest ranking “Sea Org” members incommunicado and isolated, and won’t even let a grieving mother see her child…well that is just the tip of the iceberg. And none of that involves belief.  These are actions. That’s where you stop. You’re harming people with your actions? STOP.

  • Lori

     

    If we’re willing to be vocal against Scientology, there are tons of
    other religions out there who are 1) hurting their own followers through
    their dogmas (Jehovah’s Witnesses), 2) collecting money for their corrupt pedophilic hierarchies (Catholic Church), or 3) brainwashing followers and teaching them blatant untruths to control them (Insert Religion Here).  

    One of the things Scientology does that the others you mention do not is straight up charge people for doctrine. Many of the other crimes of which Scientology is guilty are enabled by that sick little arrangement. Once you’ve gotten people to literally buy in they’re a lot less likely to even try to walk away and once you’ve got them hooked like that it’s far easier to abuse them.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Kind of like “Scientology is a religion.” Well, no, it’s an elaborate scheme for separating you from your money.

    These two things do not have to be mutually exclusive….

  • Dea Syria

    I’d be interested in know why Fred likes the Noah story, since it shows his god committing genocide. There is no allegory that can make that good.

  • Mark Z.

    Piss off, troll.

  • SisterCoyote

    Fred points out that this is a story, not to be taken literally, and he does so frequently, and with great care, and repeatedly, and y’ know what, I am getting a wee bit tired of people taking this mythological story used to illustrate a point and going “Aha! So you admit your God committed global genocide!” or “Why do you enjoy thinking about your God as a horrible murderer?” Aside from feeling kind of condescending, this is also kinda frustrating in that it seems to miss the point.

    Look. It’s a story. Fred states repeatedly that he does not believe it happened, but that it exists to illustrate a point. There are a lot of these “global flood, life as we know it preserved by one noble person” myths floating around. My sister’s discovery of them, in her early twenties, was what drew her away from Biblical literalism – the similar themes that Genesis has to every other creation myth out there was too much for her to overlook.

    It’s singularly maddening to see people reacting to this as if Fred had posted something like “I love the story of Noah, because it illustrates humanity’s relationship with God,” or something. Come on. You can love a story without being really excited about all the details. It was a while back in Mark Reads, I think, that someone brought up the different rulers explored, and… argh, I think it was the Sultan who was the example of a terrible ruler, who cares more for himself than his people. The Sultan is a terrible, terrible person. He’s prepared to release demons across the entire world to prove a point, he has torture chambers beneath his palace, and ur npghnyyl QBRF pbzcyrgryl qrfgebl uvf crbcyr – vs abg ol qrngu, guna ol fbzrguvat abg ragveryl qvfgvathvfunoyr. But it’s still a good story.

    Creation myths do not have to paint all the characters in a glowing light of awesome to be good stories. Coyote stories tend to be my favorites, even (or perhaps because) they often end in semi-hilarious disaster, sometimes for just Coyote, sometimes for all concerned. But I doubt I’d get snarked at for talking about a story in which Coyote killed his grandmother, or how much I liked it, despite the fairly terrible implications.

  • KevinC

     True, Noah’s Ark is a story, but it’s not just a story.  We can read in Greek mythology about Chronos eating his children, but we are not called upon in our culture to go to the Temple on Sunday and praise Chronos as omnibenevolent and as the One, True Source for all morality.  No one decorates children’s rooms with cute pictures of Chronos wearing a tie-on bib, knife and fork in hand, ready to tuck in.

    The Noah’s Artwork people have been talking about demonstrates the problem pretty well.  These portrayals don’t show the story in a creepy ‘Genesis 6-9, by R.L. Stine’ way, but as lovely and cute.  They tell us to evaluate a global Flood as a wonderfully happy event.  Then there’s the fact that Yahweh (“God”) gets an automatic moral blank check within Christendom, and is upheld as a present moral ideal.  Yahweh is not merely good in a Gandalf-ish sense, he owns the patent and trademark on goodness, or so we’re told.  That just isn’t done in the case of Coyote, the witch in Hansel and Gretel (her house of gingerbread and candy is not a theme for cheerful artwork), the Annunaki, or the Goddess Sakhmet.

    In addition, the story of Noah’s Ark figures in Christian apocalyptic (“as it was in the days of Noah…”), so “Yahweh destroys the world” is not merely a myth about the past, it’s a prediction of the future.  And, especially in RTC circles, this is supposed to be a good thing.  A rather powerful segment of American culture (you know, the people with all the nukes and killer drones) looks forward to a new extermination of all life on Earth, this time with fire.  See, Yawheh only promised that he wouldn’t flood the world again–loophole!

    Maybe in some far-future post-Christian world it will be possible to look at the story of Noah’s Ark the way we look at other ancient myths of primordial times.  “That’s a nice story about how it’s not good to be Nebulously Violent–but not so violent that people can’t have 900-year lifespans.”  In that day we’ll be able to appreciate the comic figure of Yawheh thinking, “Look at all that violence down there!  Grrr!  I hate violence!  So what am I gonna do about it?  Aha, I’ve got the perfect solution!”

    But that won’t happen until Yahweh is just another mythological character, without the kind of cultural, political, and moral heft he now enjoys.  

  • SisterCoyote

     I understand what you are saying there. I really, honestly do. The people going around looking forward to the next time God destroys the world (sparing only them) are serious issues, have serious issues, and that does change the world we live in, for the worse. But I disagree that it makes Noah’s Ark more than just a story. I also disagree that the character of Yahweh, in those stories of the Old Testament, gets a moral blank check. Hasn’t it been discussed here before, where he’s called out by his prophets?

    But mostly, it bothers me that you are making these arguments here, in response to Fred basically saying that – it’s just a story. That was my issue with some of the comments. Fred posted saying he’d rather not see an epic of broad strokes made into more than what it was; people responded as if he had gone “The Definitely True and Noble and Faultless story of Noah’s Ark deserves more respect than a mere mortal’s film could afford it!” And it leaves me grinding my teeth.

  • vsm

    I am getting a wee bit tired of people taking this mythological story used to illustrate a point
    and going “Aha! So you admit your God committed global genocide!”

    That’s a fair enough point, that no wicked sinners were hurt in the making of this parable. However, when you’re making a feature-length Hollywood film with Russell Crowe in the lead, you probably won’t be able to use the the Genesis’s detached and mythic tone. Chances are, it’s going to aim for realism (as in, characters with psychologically believable actions, played in a naturalistic style, against a backdrop of real-looking effects), which will not make it possible to write those sinners off as just part of the allegory.

    Anyway, if Aronofsky can pull it off, I’m going to respect him a lot more. If not, it’s going to be a huge mess, and that should make for fun viewing anyway.

  • The_L1985

     I was immune to the “multiple flood stories, ergo Christianity is false” argument, because Answers in Genesis has an answer:

    “There are tons of cultures with flood stories BECAUSE the flood was global!  After all, why would anyone write or tell a story about a global flood if the only floods they or their ancestors had ever experienced were local?”

    It wasn’t until after I abandoned YEC in general that I realized just how stupid that argument is.

  • SisterCoyote

     Aaahaha. I left that part out of my comment, mainly out of shame – that was my response as a kid, coming across other creation myths for a first time, too. (Up in Maine when we were kids, my dad picked up a massive book of Native American Myths and Legends, and from it I learned: there was totally, definitely a global flood at some point in history, and how babies are made.)

    The frustrating thing is that, even now, rationally knowing that these stories aren’t meant literally, having kept my faith and lost much of the absurdity, I still feel like I should be ducking for lightning strikes every time I type “creation myths.” It’s insidious, and maddening.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    *headdesk*

    Fred, Scientology illegally imprisons and tortures people, enslaves children, forces young women into early marriage, dictates divorces, forces abortions, runs clinics that kill people, and lies, lies, lies, lies, LIES. They claim children are adults in little bodies. They claim psychiatry and psychology are at the root of all evil, thereby keeping their victims from mental help when they need it. The people you’ve listed would be good actors with or without Scientology, and looking at the lives of people in the entertainment field who have left Scientology, their careers and personal lives would be significantly improved if they’d never seen Scientology. Scientology has never GIVEN anyone anything. Check out the Village Voice and Tampa Bay (formerly St. Pete) Times archives on Scientology please. Or google Lisa McPherson.

    Tom Cruise’s third wife recently divorced him. (Scientology claims it has the way for people to have perfect relationships and communication, but the divorce rate of Scientologists is in the stratosphere, and not just among celebrities.) She had to use burner phones so she couldn’t be traced while planning her divorce, and surprise him with the divorce while he was in Iceland. He used Scientology slave labor liberally, and took the abusive tyrant who’s at the head of Scientology with him on his honeymoon. He also verbally abused Brooke Shields for getting the help she needed for her post-partum depression. John Travolta has been outed as gay multiple times, but Scientology is homophobic (and misogynistic and racist and ableist and classist and etc.), so he stays in the glass closet. He’s recently been accused of sexual assault by multiple men. Let’s see, who else is a Scientologist… Kirstie Alley. What a great career she’s got now, huh? Then there’s Jenna Elfman, of “Do you rape babies?” fame. 

    Some quotes from celebrities who are former Scientologists:

    Paul Haggis (from a New Yorker article about him and Scientology): “I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.” Also, ““I really wish I had found a good therapist when I was twenty-one,” he said. In Scientology [which does not allow their victims to seek therapy], he always felt a subtle pressure to impress his auditor and then write up a glowing success story. Now, he said, “I’m not fooling myself that I’m a better man than I am.” 

    Jason Beghe (from an interview about Scientology on youtube): “Show me a motherf*ing Clear.”

    Lisa Marie Prestley (from her new album):
    “These roads they don’t lead to anything These people they talk, they say nothing Actors who don’t have a part Heartfelt people with no heart I’ll find a new crowd Make a new start Farewell, fair weathered friendsI can’t say I’ll miss you in the end”

  • EllieMurasaki

    The Joseph story from the beginning to Jacob’s arrival in Egypt is about three hundred verses. So Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the perfect length?

  • ray thor

    We all love a good spooky story.  It could be the inner child in us that still
    fears the dark.  I wrote a series of
    spooky stories for my grandchildren. 
    They are intended to be read around the family camp fire (the
    fireplace).  Moral lessons are also
    contained within these stories.  My
    grandchildren loved the stories so much that I decided to publish them in ebook
    form on the KINDLE bookstore under the title SPOOKY MOON STORIES by RAYMOND
    THOR. Click here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_i_0?rh=k%3Araymond+thor%2Ci%3Adigital-text&keywords=raymond+thor&ie=UTF8&qid=1344014633

  • The Guest That Posts

    As far as I’m concerned, Scientologists can believe whatever they want (though I’d be happy if they stopped denigrating psychiatry), but their leadership are horrible, exploitative people with their subordinates’ blood on their hands.

    From what I’ve heard, there are some Scientologists who have broken free of the hierarchy, while retaining their religious beliefs. More power to them.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    That would be the Free Zone. They keep the talk therapy parts, leave out the space aliens and Hubbard worship. I used to be active on alt.religion.scientology, which is anti-CoS; Freezoners are respected there.

    “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

  • Mike Thetan

     “But even so, Scientology can point to the careers of, for example,
    Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi and Beck, as well as Tom Cruise and John
    Travolta….”

    Scientologists account for around 0.001% of all actors on this planet.  Just start writing down a list of all the brilliant and successful actors who are NOT Scientologists. It could be argued that being a Scientologist is actually detrimental to your chances of being an actor. It’s certainly detrimental to your sanity, your opinion of others, and the opinion of others towards you.

  • snowmentality

    I heard a radio commercial for AMTC yesterday, before I saw this post this morning. They’re holding a “recruiting event” at a hotel in my city. The ad was done by a woman with a sickly sweet voice, with “inspirational”-sounding instrumental music in the background. Its repeated slogan was “Bad is bold in Hollywood. Good needs to be bolder.” The selling point was clearly “We’ll send you out to to take over Hollywood and make it moral and RTC. Just pay us lots of money first.”

    I guess branding this scam “Christian” and making it about striking a blow for RTC “values” in popular entertainment, rather than about being famous, is a viable new marketing strategy. Ugh.

  • Tonio

    Tonio’s Bizarre Theory of the Day: Mario Puzo’s original Godfather novel has a far longer Frank Sinatra Johnny Fontaine sequence set in Hollywood. Fontaine’s friend Dean Martin Nino Valenti observes that the male actors are closeted gays, and reacts with disgust when his favorite female star treats him like a “male whore.” Maybe something like this is the whole basis for the longstanding view of the entertainment industry as Sodom and Gomorrah – not just the caricature of rampant fornication but the caricature of lack of conformance to gender norms. The whole reason the metrosexual stereotype exists is because many people wrongly believe that focus on appearance should be a female trait and not a male one (the male gaze concept  and this belief could drive the resentment against male actors.

  • Jim Roberts

    The Sensuous Curmudgeon discusses bathtub arks. Or, rather, discusses Ken Ham discussing bathtub arks.
    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/ken-ham-denounces-bathtub-arks/

  • wanderingoutlaw

    I don’t know much about AMTC since it became a “Christian” company but the original founder Millie Lewis was a legitimate talent and model trainer.  (She also attended a mainstream Episcopalian church–the same one as my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mom.) Her most famous student is Andie MacDowell.  Her daughter who has been involved with AMTC since the beginning evidently had a mid-life crisis a few years ago and became an evangelical christian and changed the direction of AMTC and changed the meaning of the letters AMTC. Funnily enough, her late brother, a vajrayana buddhist practioner and a friend of mine, is the one who gave her the new name of the business, changing it from American Modeling & Talent Convention to Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.

  • Joshua

    In the Mesopotamian myth that (at least plausible) is the origin of the Genesis flood myth, the flood is created by one god and the people rescued by another. That makes the character motivations a little easier to understand.*

    * Source: Eerk. Something I read on Wikipedia a while ago. I have a couple of translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh on my hard drive somewhere, but never got around to reading them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    And that would be wrong on several levels. It would be as disastrous as an epic movie about “So this gorilla walks into a bar …”

    If the gorilla is Grodd, and the bar is the one in Keystone City where lots of the Rogues hang out, I could see it being a pretty epic movie.

  • GeniusLemur

    I’ve read somewhere (bear with me here, I can’t dig up where I found this, and I’m working from memory) that there was a massive flood in the area (geologically, scientists found the evidence). It didn’t cover the whole world, of course, but it was close enough for a bronze age culture (more than 100 miles in any direction). Obviously this would have been a matter of great carnage and trauma at the time. It may be that the whole Noah story is just a matter of something that did, in fact, happen, together with an added explanation of why the people and animals weren’t wiped out. It was included in the Bible because it was considered so historically important, and attributed to God because who else could have done it? From there, it’s a short jump to “God had to, because humanity had become to wicked.”

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It was included in the Bible because it was considered so historically important, and attributed to God because who else could have done it? From there, it’s a short jump to “God had to, because humanity had become to wicked.”

    Also if God did it and then promised not to do it again, then the world is safe; there will never again be a flood like that. Whereas if it’s a random natural occurrence nobody can ever be safe.

  • Tonio

     The random natural occurrence doesn’t mean it personally and the humans didn’t do anything to anger it. There would be some comfort in knowing that the humans didn’t cause it (assuming we’re not talking about global warming) and couldn’t have done anything to change the outcome. Whereas the god in the story sounds like the type of abuser who alternates between brutal rages and false promises to control himself. Promises to never do it again would have been no use to the millions of corpses, and the survivors can never really confident that they won’t provoke the god’s anger like that again.


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