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Unserious faith

Erick’s hilarious review of Darren Aronofsky’s new film “Noah” makes it sound ripe for the “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ treatment.  John Nolte at Breitbart salutes the technical achievements and solid acting performances, while condemning the overall message of the movie as “brilliantly sinister anti-Christian filmmaking.”

Personally, I was of the “let’s give the movie a chance before we condemn it” school during the last few months of hype and condemnation – I like most of Aronofsky’s work and was hoping for the best from “Noah” – but the bit of advance news that bothered me is the focal point of Nolte’s condemnation:

It is not about being faithful to the stories, plot points, and dialogue of the Bible. One of our greatest gifts from God is the muse of inspiration, especially artistic inspiration that is meant to glorify God.

What does matter, though, is The Message. The Message is everything. And this is where Aronofsky is the snake in the garden. Using a $135 million, he and Paramount have brilliantly and deviously disguised the Pagan god Gaia as the God of the Old Testament … as THE God.

And let’s give the Devil his due: using the story of Noah to twist Christianity into something it is not, is a genius piece of propagandizing that is sure to lead many away from God under the mistaken belief that through left-wing environmentalism they are coming closer to Him.

Aronofsky is the anti-Michelangelo: a master craftsman using his talents to a dishonest and wicked end.

In other words: yeah, they shanghaied the story of Noah and turned it into another dreary environmentalist harangue.  There’s even a lecture on the evils of eating meat.  As Nolte says, this isn’t just an example of forgivable creative license, it’s the outright subversion of Christian faith to serve the official state religion of the United States government, the Church of Global Warming.  People of faith believe the Bible teaches serious lessons.  The lesson of Noah is not “stay away from hamburgers, keep your carbon emissions down, and you’ll be okay with The Creator.”

This is especially annoying because Aronofsky has spent months claiming he was going to do a faithful and respectful interpretation of Noah, claiming in some interviews that he knows the Bible better than his critics, and some of the stuff they were complaining about was actually in there.  The actual film turns out to be way off base in matters large and small, including – to take one obvious example – the fact that God explicitly told Noah and his family to go out and eat all the animals they wanted.  Nothing about the Bible story is even vaguely related to anti-human Green propaganda.  God (who is Himself ushered off the stage in Aronofsky’s film, to be replaced by something more akin to the Gaia-spirit from “Avatar,” which communicates using shroom tea acid trips instead of angelic messengers) did not send the Flood because he was annoyed at pre-industrial fracking technology.

Despite the constant media caricature of Christians as prune-faced scolds who can’t wait to protest any movie that gets a single word of Scripture wrong, they’re actually very good sports about creative interpretations of their faith, especially compared with certain religions that… aren’t.  Christian groups respond to movies they mildly disapprove of by expressing mild disapproval.  If they’re really bent out of shape, they might even tell other people not to go see the movie.  And they’ll embrace all sorts of creative embellishments if the serious themes and tenets of their faith are given a respectful hearing.

That’s what this is all about: seriousness.  Aronofsky doesn’t think all that stuff about God passing moral judgment upon wicked humanity is serious.  His environmentalist preoccupations, on the other hand, are very serious indeed – so much so that he writes them into the script as the true reason for the Flood.  He can’t imagine any other reason The Creator would become seriously angry enough to wipe out the human race (and the animals, which you’ll note are preserved on the Ark in the same way humanity is.)  You’d think God the Environmentalist could have found a more efficient, less environmentally disruptive means of culling the human contagion, while preserving the innocent animals.  How about a zombie virus?  Those seem to work great.  Sending the hosts of Heaven down to take out Mankind in single combat, on the other hand, appears surprisingly ineffective.

Turning the Flood into a zombie apocalypse would shatter the essential illusion that this is the authentic story of Noah.  The goal is to sucker people into the movie and then hit them with the “serious” message of radical environmentalism, swapped in for all the trivial concerns Christians have been muttering about for centuries.  The film would lose the veneer of serious integrity if it ended with Noah killing the last of the zombies, turning to one of his sons, and saying, “We must conceal the horror of this from generations to come.  Let’s tell everyone it was a big flood.”  I think I might have just given the SyFy Channel a good idea for their next movie.  Mention me in the credits, guys!

The same efforts to dismiss sincere religious belief as unserious can be seen in the court battle over ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandates.  The broad assumption among Obama supporters is that conscientious objectors cannot possibly be serious about their resistance to the mandates, or at least, not as serious as the evangelists of “free” birth control are.  Even a risible phony like Sandra Fluke is given limitless credit for sincerity and portrayed as an agent of conscience.  The family that owns Hobby Lobby, on the other hand, is portrayed as making an absurdly big deal about silly stuff that belongs behind church doors on Sunday mornings.  Liberals assume these people are basically lying about the “real” reasons they don’t want to pay for abortifacient drugs (greed, blind loyalty to church, War on Women, etc.) because the stated objections are not something a leftist in good standing can imagine anyone taking seriously.

Religion is essentially viewed as a hobby by the Left, not a serious moral force which central planners are obliged to respect.  Political power determines where religion is allowed, not vice versa.  The lone exceptions are Islam (which demonstrates a very serious commitment to its core beliefs on a regular basis) and the Church of Global Warming, whose edicts are taken so seriously that true believers keep talking about rounding dissenters up and putting them in jail.

You can see this in the same-sex marriage debate as well.  Objections to same-sex marriage are broadly ruled unserious; the only reason anyone could possibly leave money on the table by refusing to make a gay wedding cake must be seething homophobia.  Everything else is trivia before the extremely serious moral imperative to re-define marriage.  (Add to that the sizable number of young people who essentially regard marriage as a quaint custom nobody’s really all that serious about anyway, so why risk making gay people feel bad by telling them they can’t get married?)

It seems to me that church people have a much better grasp on the proper relationship between church and state than worshipers of the State.  The politeness characteristic of most American religious groups, including most of those outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, is a way of acknowledging that non-believers can have sincere differences of moral opinion.  Social harmony is all about respect, not enforced consensus.  Respect means accepting that people who disagree are serious about their beliefs.  What Hollywood did to “Noah,” and what so much of left-wing secular culture is trying to do to people of faith in America, strikes me as profoundly disrespectful, and I’m not even a member of any organized church.  I am, however, mightily sick and tired of being forced to hear constant sermons from, and pay immense tribute to, the Church of Global Warming.

Update: The abortion debate could be subjected to this analysis as well.  Many pro-choicers are convinced pro-lifers don’t really care about the lives of unborn children, the mental and physical health of pregnant women, or even the social costs of abortion on demand; they think pro-lifers are either mindless religious fanatics, or knuckle-dragging misogynists who get off on telling women what to do with their bodies.  There are people on the pro-choice side who take pro-life arguments seriously and try to engage with them on a respectful intellectual and moral plane, but they are relatively small in number.  Even if abortion proponents don’t actively loathe pro-lifers, they tend to regard them as unserious – strongly dedicated to a cause they don’t really understand.

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