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Noah Has Sailed Into Stores

noah giveaway_1

As you may, or may not, know, the Noah movie has been released on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital. This movie generated quite a bit of dialogue both before, and during, it’s theatrical release. While we as Christians may not agree with the artistic license Darren Aronofsky employed in making the film, I think we can all agree that he had that right. Before we get into a debate about the movie’s artistic merits, or lack thereof, we would do well do remember that written works (such as the Bible is) and films are very different artistic mediums. What works well on the page doesn’t always translate to the screen. And the account of Noah as recorded in Scripture is very short. It is also completely without conflict. What I’m saying is that Mr. Aronofsky had scripted, and filmed, his movie with slavish adherence to the text it wouldn’t be a movie worth seeing: it would be woefully short, and without conflict.

Conflict is what drives stories. At their most basic, stories are about a character who wants something, and undergoes conflict to get it. In an industry dominated by the almighty dollar, name me a studio that would finance a wide theatrical release films which clocks in about twenty minutes. Who would pay to see that? (I wouldn’t. Movies are frightfully expensive these days. I’m not plunking down my hard-earned scratch on something unless it tells a compelling story. It has to be worth my time). There isn’t one. Added to that is that fact that Hollywood, by and large, isn’t in the business of catering to Christians. Why should we expect them to do so? Is that reasonable? In Celebrate Recovery, they have a maxim that goes: “Accepting this sinful world, as Jesus did, as it is, and not as I would have it to be.” Which is to say that, as people of faith, we would do well to moderate our expectations of the entertainment product coming of the movie industry. They, being very being very much interested in the bottom line, have to make a product which appeals to the broadest audience possible. That said, I have no compunction about avoiding most of the films, T.V. shows, what have which originate there. I know very well what the Scripture says about the love of money being a root of all kinds of evil.

That’s a given.

In this particular case, that of Noah, yes, Aronofsky used both the Bible, and extra-biblical sources (midrash, etc). We may not agree with that. We may not like all of his choices, or the way Noah is depicted on screen. However, let’s not forget the one, singular truth here: a director has been given the greenlight to make a big budget film about Noah, the ark, sin, justice, forgiveness, redemption. Again, we may not agree with everything that takes place on screen. Nevertheless, the fact that this film was made gives us a giant opportunity to talk about: Noah, the ark, sin, justice, forgiveness, and redemption. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. The good news is that the Bible has been brought back into the multiplex in a big way (this December, director Ridley Scott’s Exodus Gods and Kings will bow).

My opinion? When God hands us an opportunity this large we best use it. People that aren’t normally open to discussing the Bible will be open, will have questions.

And we need to be there… with the Good News.

And there’s more good news for anyone reading this post: in conjunction with Grace Hill Media, I’m giving away a special edition box set of Noah. Just follow the instructions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m Not A Finisher

I don’t know about you, but I’m good at starting…

But not so good at finishing.

Take a look around my house, and you’ll see ample evidence of this:

An unfinished bathroom floor, a den in a state of disarray, a garage too full of junk.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I start, and then don’t finish–leaving forgotten projects in my wake. I’ve always chalked it up to wanting a new challenge. But I see this even in writing projects:

I start strong, and then peter out. I wish I knew why–so I could combat this monster.

Will you pray for me? I want to be a finisher.

How about you? Are you a finisher?

#MovieReview A Good Day to Die Hard

At the outset let me just say that I’m glad I didn’t pay good money to see A Good Day to Die Hard in theatres. Yes, I know it came out a year ago. I just had a free preview weekend of HBO courtesy of DirecTV, and it was on.

So I queued up the DVR to record it. Thinking, “You know, Live Free or Die Hard was cheesy, but I kinda liked it. How bad can this one be?”

The answer is so, so bad. Clichés, deus ex machina, etc. Near as I can figure the plot had something to do with bad blood between Evil Papa Smurf and Russian Alec Baldwin (his Russian doppelganger). Throw in a surly kid named Jack–who don’t know jack–and Bruce Willis acting like he wishes he were in a Geritol commercial with Wilford Brimley, and you’ve got the movie. Seriously, Willis looked like he needed a healthy dose of prune juice.

Don’t get me started on the ridiculous set pieces. Like a car chase involving a conveniently placed trailer? Whither credibility? At least with say James Bond there’s a willing suspension of disbelief (especially the Blonde Bond films). But here? They only thing that could’ve made this film worse is Shia LeBouef. Or maybe that’s better? MAYBE THEN WE’D KNOW NOT TO, YOU KNOW, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

Yes, that I think–other than the absurdities (quick car ride to Chernobyl from Moscow, anyone? It’s 12 hours away!)–was the film’s greatest sin:

It took itself too seriously. It wasn’t fun. The one liners fell flat. And there wasn’t one single “Yippee-kai-ai!” in the whole sordid mess.

And that, my friends, is just one McClane too far.

Not Your Grandpappy’s Flannelgraph ‘Noah’

I saw the new Noah film with my wife yesterday. It ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. Sure, there’s an ark; there’s just no “arky, arky” here. This is no cutesy kid-friendly Sunday school lesson (complete with crafts).

Before I continue, please go grab your Bible, and read the story of Noah as it appears there.

Done already? That was fast.

The savvy among you will know where I’m going with this: the account of Noah as it appears in canon can be read in 5-10 minutes. While the specifics are indeed there, it’s as notable for what it leaves our as for what it includes. What did people eat on the ark? We don’t know. Did they get tired of one another?  Bored? What provisions did Noah and his family bring for the animals? What did they do with all the dung? (I’m not the latest movie answers these questions, per se).

The point is: Scripture doesn’t tell us. So the filmmakers turned to extrabiblical sources to fill in those gaps. The film’s director, and co-writer, Darren Aronofsky, calls the movie a midrash. Midrash is a time-honored rabbinical tradition of filling in the gaps in a text. It’s a very Jewish thing. And it’s both surprising, and sad, that my fellow Christians don’t understand this. That we–collectively–don’t grok the Jewish roots of our faith. It’s like we’re ashamed of the imaginations God gave us…

So the movie is midrash, and incorporates material from such sources as the Book of Enoch. A deuterocanonical book, it is nevertheless quoted in the New Testament (the Book of Jude ring any bells?)–demonstrating that the very men God used to compose canon were familiar enough with this work to quote from it. Put another way, they considered at least portions of it to be authoritative enough to include in their epistles.

Again, because of our lack of familiarity with Judaism, and other works, there’s a hue and cry about what the filmmakers have done to Noah. While the fact is they’ve done nothing to him. He just the same as he’s ever been. If don’t care for this particular cinematic interpretation, which includes much wrestling with:

Sin

Justice,  and

Mercy

I’d recommend they go dust off that leather-bound tome on their bookshelves, exercise their rights as Bereans, and discover for themselves that nothing has changed in those pages.

There’s nothing to get upset over, folks. It’s a tempest in a teapot:

Scripture has not, and cannot be, changed.

If you don’t like it, don’t see it. As for myself, I thought it was a worthy effort. Still, it ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. If you can deal with that, good; if not, read the book (don’t wait for the movie).

Thanks for reading!

Have something to say? The contents 5 are open below.

The Post About Me & Dean Koontz Hanging Out

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.20.12 PM This is Dean Koontz. You may have heard of him. ;-) He is one of the biggest bestselling novelists in the world. After starting as a science fiction writer, he broadened the scope of his work to encompass multiple genres: thrillers, mystery, horror, humor, etc. He is now more of a cross-genre writer, as his work encompasses all of these elements–and all within the pages of a single book!

He can take us to the darkest depths, make us weep with despair, and then raise us to the highest heights. For no matter how dark his stories skew, there is always a ray of sunshine. Hope somehow not only survives, but thrives. As in our own lives, this doesn’t happen without cost. There are sacrifices to be made, lives are lost on the way.

But the journey! The icy shock of confronting the blackest of evils, the good guys–misunderstood, and on the run. Koontz’s books are like literary crack! One wants to put them down, but cannot! There is always the next page, chapter… until the final one is turned, and stumbles to bed, bleary-eyed, at three A.M., fallen into a fitful sleep.

Like all the best writers, Koontz often writes himself (and his characters) into a corner, and one just keeps reading to see how he is going to get himself (and them) out whatever outrageous pickle he has imagined. For my money, the best writing does this: posits impossible scenarios–creates problems–and then finds a plausible way out.

Koontz does it time and time again.

I share my exuberance for his work here because I would be honored if you would join the on Thursday, January 23rd at 5:00 P.M. EST. Dean will be chatting with his publicist, a Vice President of Random House publishers, and three lucky fans. Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.36.39 PM

I’m inviting you, my readers, to this event because, out of all of the people that applied for one of those three spots, I was chosen.

It feels a little like winning the lottery. It felt a little clandestine: there were emails, sample questions, and a phone call from New York to “triple confirm” my availability. I was like, Are you kidding me? Of course I’m there!

This is where you come in. Not only can you watch me blubber like an idiot (if you like), it’s also your chance to be heard! It may be my face being seen, and the sound of my voice being heard, during the hangout, but it could also be yours. In addition to, of course, taking questions via chat during the hangout, I would like for you ask any questions you may have for Mr. Koontz here in response to this post.

If you have questions about writing, about research, about the creative process, please ask them below, and I will do my best to get them answered on air during the hangout.

Thanks much for your support! I couldn’t do what I do here without you.

–Chad

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