UPDATED: Getting to Know “Noah”

Noah

Be warned: SPOILERS POSSIBLE

Ten years ago, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ cemented itself as the greatest motion-icon about our Lord’s Passion. Today, there is still no comparing it with any other film about Christ. It has set the bar, and the bar is in orbit.

Yesterday, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah did the same for the Genesis narrative about the Great Flood. So be warned now: if you’re looking for a rant against Noah, you won’t find it here. Instead, I believe the film did more good than bad, more beauty than bumbling, and more creativity and faithfulness to the Flood story than what I’ve seen in a long time. (If you have a specific critique of the film, please feel free to comment!)

Links to various reviews and interviews will follow, so you can see what better critics than I have been saying, but before that, let me share my favorite scenes (these are obviously spoilers):

  1. The Creator sends a little raindrop down. It hits the dirt. Noah (played by Russell Crowe) looks to the sky, sees not a cloud, and wonders where the drop came from. He looks down again and it pops like popcorn into a flower. I don’t know about you, but I would go nuts if ex nihilo happened right in front of my face! (Ex nihilo is Latin for “out of nothing,” meaning God alone creates out of nothing.)
  2. Illa (played by Emma Watson) is ashamed of being infertile, to the point of trying to convince Noah to find another woman for his son. She believes to the point of tears that she is worthless because she cannot be a mother. But Noah refuses. He tells her again and again: “I thought you would be a burden, but I was wrong. You are a gift. A precious, precious gift!”
  3. When a grounded angel repented to God for having sinned, he was blitzed straight to Heaven – like a shooting star in reverse. The beauty of a saved creation, a contrite spirit, a redeemed beloved (like the Prodigal Son), always brings tears of joy to me.
  4. And the best for last: Illa, as a new mother now to her newborns, begs to at least be allowed to sing a lullaby to her children before they are taken from her, to at least calm them to sleep first. Trust me – you just have to see and listen to this scene for yourself. Even if you dislike the whole movie, this scene is worth it. Emma Watson just ravaged my heart. At display here is what Pope John Paul II coined the Feminine Genius, and what I call severe tenderness (more on those another time).

Other reviews:

Illa

 

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God is Chinese?

Of course not. I just wanted to have a catchy post title.

But written Chinese seems to have an interesting unknown history to most. Let me show you what I noticed a while back:

Male and Female

Pictured above are two Chinese words. If you do not know Chinese, and you had to choose, which character above (the left one or the right one) would you think represents female? Which do you think represents male? Take a minute and just guess… we’ll see if you’re right!

On the left, we have the Chinese character for male. On the right is the character for female. And most of the time, people unfamiliar with Chinese guess correctly! When thought through, it makes sense that this is so, on a few levels.

First, the male character is rigid looking, straight lines, angular and rectangular. It mimics the frame of a man’s body. The female character sports more curvature, and it even looks like it has its two legs crossed, as a sitting woman. Now that’s merely the look of the two ideographs. Let’s break it down further:

Chinese ideographs are pictographic, they represent ideas via images, and each pictograph holds a meaning. Some pictographs are simple, and others are more complex. A complex pictograph is made up of things called radicals, and a radical is actually other simple pictographs. An analogy: H2O is a symbol for the water molecule. It is one whole complex pictograph. However, the H can also stand alone as hydrogen and the O can stand alone as oxygen. The H and the O are simple pictographs that can also be radicals that come together to form a complex pictograph: H2O.

The same works for Chinese characters, and some complex pictographs can have even five or more distinct radicals! Anyway, the male character is composed of two radicals: one atop, one under. The top radical resembles a rice paddy, or a field with plow lines for farming. The radical alone is the word for field. The bottom radical is the word for strength or power, and a closer look shows that it resembles a flexing arm, or even a plow!

In the Paddyfield

[This shot of a rice paddy generously provided by: Tricia A. Mitchell]

In ExpectationThe female character is only comprised of one radical, which means exactly what it already is: female. But notice that it appears to be emphasizing something, something special. In the character, there is an empty space in the center, there is a womb.

In the Genesis account of Creation, after the sin of Adam and Eve, a consequence is laid out for the selfishness of our first parents: Adam from now on must work, must use his muscle to tend the fields and grow his own food (Genesis 3: 17-19), and Eve will now bear children in pain (Genesis 3: 16). See the emphasis? See the point of the consequences represented in the Chinese characters? And is it a coincidence?

There are more Chinese ideographs that have similar and even more extreme coincidences. But don’t take my word for it… see for yourself from Pastor Kong Hee in Singapore!

Remembering Tragedy

Tomorrow is the one year memorial of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I was reading Jennifer Hubbard’s reflection in the Magnificat about her daughter Catherine being killed. Somehow, I was then reminded of the Fall — our Fall from Grace way back in Eden — when we chose to disobey and eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And I know for certain God always intended to give us this fruit, this knowledge. Why else would He create such a thing otherwise? A thing that was “good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for the knowledge it would give”?

DO NOT EAT. DUH!

DO NOT EAT. DUH!

But He wanted us to wait. The fruit was not ready, not yet ripe, and we were not ready. He was saving the fruit, waiting for the right time when it was safe for consumption.

But we wanted to know, and the fruit was still bitter and our digestive system was not mature for it. It was like us feeding solid food to ourselves as newborns. And we got terribly sick.

And this is why there is evil in our world now… we asked to taste it, to bring it into us, to know it, and it has ravaged us with its poisons. The goodness and sweetness of the fruit we forsook when we couldn’t wait, when we chose to have the immature flavor instead.

And we are far from done. Evil can get far worse. We have not yet known its full decadence and toxin. The worse is yet to come. We indeed wanted to know, so now we’re still finding out how wicked it can taste.

Yet, New Fruit has been given to us by the New Eve. The Blessed Fruit of Her womb turns water into wine, and wine into His Precious Blood. He turns bread into His Sacred Heart. Stop settling for the unripe, the bitter, the disgusting, and seek instead the true life, true sweetness, true hope. Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve…

The Fall, and the New.

The Fall, and then The New.