Lately I’ve found my thoughts turning to the story of the flood–I mean, The Flood–and the worldwide destruction that came with it. This started some time ago. The incomparable Madelyn l’Engle wrote a stirring young adult novel entitled Many Waters, which took two American teenagers, a set of twins, back to the story, where they met and lived with Noah and his family and helped prepare for the coming flood. They met and fell in love with a beautiful, but simple–i.e., one absolutely without guile–and both loved her. It was clear that she couldn’t survive the flood, and her salvation was beautiful to behold in the exquisite writing of Ms. L’Engle.
Some months ago, Russell Crowe, who can apparently play any role in the world, starred as the patriarch in a free-wheeling re-telling of the story. Though somewhat–make that very–gruesome, the story has the bias toward a condemnation of what we as a species have done to our planet. The viewer gets the idea that Earth would be so much better if we all kind of drowned or as seems more and more likely, burned up in a vast world wide conflagration. Also impressive in this film was young Emma Watson, who demonstrates her acting chops as an character not named in scripture, yet is a young mother who, with Shem (one of Noah’s offspring) produce the first new children from the flood.
I reviewed this film some time ago, and I gave it a lot of stars. Several friends told me that the film really didn’t count because it wasn’t literally true to the Bible account.
Now, no one is more committed to the truth of the Bible than I. However, this film is told for a very different reason than Biblical truth. It is a story, not truth. Stories always have a different purpose than the purpose of the Bible.
Picasso said it like this: Art is not truth. On the contrary, art is the lie that reveals the truth. In other words, we see light in the True LIght. Valparaiso University’s motto is, in English, “In your light we see light.” The truth of literature, of theatre, of movies, and even of some television, is to reveal truth to us: to shed light on our lives.
The Bible’s truth, indeed, is expressed in John’s name for Jesus: The Word, which is the light of Man. The true light, which gives light to all men, is found in the pages of Scripture. As C. S. Lewis said, look into the face of Aslan–the Christlike lion in the seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia–and see the truth. The true light is the basis for all we believe.
There is another rendering of the story of the Ark: Disney did a Donald Duck cartoon of Noah in the exquisite Fantasia re-do of the Noah story. This version interprets Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, and is a perfect setting for the re-telling the story of Noah. All will be restored, it says. The animals march from the Ark in triumph, the story of survival, and the blending of Art with truth–telling the familiar story in another wonderful way–a cartoon, yet with a great dignity, and astoundingly, the truth of mankind, using a cartoon duck.
I wrote a critique of the disappointing Finding Noah documentary last week. The most important part of the film was not the struggle–it was the fellowship of the men who sought, and will again, seek the Ark.
A lot of thinking about the Ark of the survival of our species, and others.
Walk in love, Beloved.