Thursday, August 28, 2014

Good Story 090: Noah

Julie and Scott have an unnecessary fist fight on the ark over what Julie thought was a cheeseburger but was actually a previously unknown variety of armadillo. They talk about the guy that build the boat: Noah! Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

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  1. No Karl Urban. I really wish you hadn't pointed that out. The movie just lost a half star. :-D

  2. The whole website may need to be reorganized. Urban and No Urban. :)

  3. It's so obvious when you point it out. Of course. The final perfection of Good Story.

  4. Meg Vail is a longtime Catholic friend of mine (Julie). She emailed me and I dropped this great comment in here for all to read and discuss.

    I loved Aranofsky's Noah, and can’ t find nearly enough people to talk to about it! Your podcast with Scott was great — it is the first podcast I’ve ever listened to. The only problem was that I couldn’t interrupt and join the conversation. :)

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Richard Elliot Friedman’s "Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation", but you can look at the first few pages on (look inside me!). Scroll down to the notes for Genesis 1:6 and there is a great diagram of how the authors of Genesis imagined the physical world. Once you have that image in mind, the Flood description makes perfect sense, as do other parts of the Old Testament, including some psalms, if I recall correctly.

    Here’s a link.

    I also liked what you said about Truth vs Accuracy, but I was sorry that you didn’t comment on the Church’s teaching on biblical inerrancy, that the Bible teaches “without error that truth that God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation.” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation). I’ve admired that statement since the first time I read it. It leaves such a big back door!! And of course it leaves room for all the different genres in the Biblical library.

    Jonah was a great example. A man lives in a fish? Not necessary for my salvation. But a comedy, a satire on prophecy and a prophet who runs away from God? That is a powerful message! And a saving one! (I will always find you — or is that from Last of the Mohicans?) ;P

    I’m getting silly now ...

    1. Meg ... loved that diagram. I'd heard of the water in the heavens but not the water underground. Interesting to me that it also worked for my modern mind, knowing of water tables and the like. I am definitely going to have to look for Friedman's Commentary at the library. That looks like a great book and right down my alley.

      Now I must go find the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. I don't know if I've ever come across that statement before but it is so very "Catholic" (ha! of course it is!) in how it approaches Scripture. Perfectly said and your comments about the good Jonah's story does us is a perfect example. Love that story of Jonah. Wish I didn't resemble him so very often!

      It is so good to hear from you after so long and I am honored that ours was the first podcast you've ever listened to. Please don't let it be the last! Look around and try another one! :-)

      When I've had trouble commenting here it has often been because of the browser not cooperating with Blogger. What often works for me is being Anonymous ... and just signing my name within the comment. (Though you may have tried that already!)

    2. Thanks, Julie. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't actually read the Dogmatic Constitution - it was quoted in the materials our parish uses for RCIA. ;)

      But I have this book here, for my fall class -- The Scripture Documents -- oh! Here it is! It's better known as Dei Verbum! It's not too long, and the quotation is from paragraph 11. You can probably find it at the Vatican website - it's from 1965, so a Vatican II document.

      I think I will try more podcasts, thanks - it was a different experience for me - and well-needed practice for my listening skills.


    3. I have to admit that once I began listening to podcasts and audiobooks I got much better at remembering what I heard, not simply what I read (which had been the case before). :-)

      I believe I've read Dei Verbum before so that just didn't hit me. Going to go pick it up from good ol' Vatican's site now!

  5. Salem's Lot is a great choice. A modern vampire novel that tries to play by the rules.

    I can't say I've seen Noah yet, but the reaction to it has made my head swirl. From expecting an atheist to consider the Bible Divine Revelation (when he clearly does not) to showing sinners sin and make mistakes, I just can't wrap my head around it. I guess I haven't been in the Catholic world that long comparatively, but I always thought art and storytelling were ways to help understand the world around you. That this film might help Aranofsky or others grow closer to the Bible stories and maybe nudge them in the right direction is a good thing. On the other hand I've never seen anybody become an agnostic from simply watching The Last Temptation of Christ.

    But then, I saw a review of the book Silence by Shusaku Endo say that Catholics weak and faith shouldn't read it because it is dark and heavy and will deter them from the faith. I read it when I was brand new and new almost nothing about theology and it help me grow in understanding. So maybe there's a disconnect here I'm not seeing? Anyway, sorry for getting off track.

    I have a problem watching Bible movies because it just never comes off the way I pictured it. But thanks to your discussion I'll probably give this a chance down the road. It sounds like the movie is actually interested in asking questions and not tearing something down it doesn't understand.

    1. There seem to be two ways of approaching art among my Catholic friends. And in reactoins to our podcast, actually. One way is to focus on all that is wrong with the art (meaning what doesn't agree with Catholic teachings). The other is to sift out the things that do help us to see more than we did before. That is Scott's and my way obviously. One doesn't, of course, ignore what is wrong but one places it in the proper context. Silence was a difficult book and I didn't agree with the ending, but it was Endo's reflection upon Catholicism in Japan. That didn't mean there wasn't tons that I got out of it. And I may disagree with an author's ending on a regular book just as easily. So we are on the same page, JD! :-)

  6. "to showing sinners sin and make mistakes, and think it's un-Biblical" I meant.

  7. I haven't seen Noah, and I'm still not sure it's a film I'd enjoy in its own right, but much of the discussion surrounding it, both here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, has been very interesting to follow - and I think the degree to which it stirred up so may strong reactions from a diverse audience is a sign of a job well-done on Aronofsky's part. I really enjoyed hearing you talk about how many details of the film had you returning to scripture to investigate things you had missed in being 'so familiar' with the story (Julie) - the bit about Noah's drunkenness was great. I think so many people (including myself) hesitate or resist returning to certain scripture stories to study again because we're certain that there isn't anything we've missed in hearing them again and again - in a lot of cases, since childhood (which, on second thought, brings up an interesting question of the potential long-term influence of 'simplifying' certain biblical stories for young children...the Noah story is a perfect example. How many adults have gone their entire lives thinking it's just a nice story about animals & rainbows?). This also brought me back to thinking about the Biliotheca project (now funded!), and how seeing scripture in a more literary format may help a lot if people rediscover scripture in ways they haven't been able to experience it before. I'm really curious how my copy of the New Testament (once it arrives in the next year) will influence my experience.

    Your bit about Truth vs. Accuracy (and I think a few of the related comments) got me nodding my head. This is a struggle evident in both our interior reactions to things like movies, articles we read, etc., and also in the disposition of openness and charity that we have towards friends, co-workers, etc. who may be on a different leg of their spiritual journey than we are (particularly those who aren't Catholic or have left the Church). The most cut & dry example is how many Christians continue to react to those who are openly gay, i.e., even with a firm commitment to the 'love the sinner hate the sin' posture, the force of a well-formed conscience is often helpless to restrain itself in terms of focusing on 'what must be fixed,' and the result usually isn't anything very 'loving' at all. One of the most difficult things to do is to be firmly committed to advancing the salvation of those around us without succumbing to treating everyone as a 'project'. Things are as they are, and we should not be too anxious about 'what isn't right.' It's often hard to both have a sense of urgency about personal apostolate and at the same time surrender everything to God's will. I have a very devout family member who struggles with this mightily. They worry a lot about not being taken seriously for talking about God at the office, of that their co-worker hasn't returned to church after knowing him for many months/years, etc.. Part of being at peace with this is remembering that we only occupy a microcosm of time...that how we relate to others, even in the smallest ways, likely influences people in ways we don't see or that will take decades to come to light. It's worth repeating that we aren't call to 'be right,' we're called to be holy. In this day of combox battles, it's easy to get waaay too preoccupied with the former.

    I am really intrigued by the new forthcoming Exodus flick...although I'm not sure I would have pegged Christian Bale for Moses. And man, that tag now has my imagination running wild about what this movie could have been, had Karl Urban actually been in it :]

    1. JoAnna, what a fantastic and thoughtful comment. I have to agree, especially in the idea of what we lose in simplifying Biblical stories. It makes me appreciate even more the Biblical writers who included several versions of a text (Noah, creation of man) rather than delete one because they admitted that each had something we needed to know and they didn't want to risk missing something.

      It's worth repeating that we aren't call to 'be right,' we're called to be holy.
      Isn't that the truth? I was just reading something this morning about remembering that we are called upon to be like PR people, to delicately feel our way in conversations about the faith to present the message in a way that people would hear and understand (rather than barging around making "treating everyone like a project" - love that phrasing).

      Karl Urban. Is there anything he can't make better? :-D

  8. Wow, what excellent comments! Thanks, all.

    I should say that if it helps anyone with the enjoyment of this audio podcast, I don't mind that listeners visualize me as Karl Urban.

    1. Imagine? I think it's just true, right? You and Karl ... your mothers can't tell you apart.

    2. Nah, we look COMPLETELY different.


      Me, preparing for next week's podcast:

      Very different.

  9. Oooo, Scott! That must get a lot of looks when you drop by Starbucks!