Matt C. Abbott
March 31, 2014
Divergent reviews of 'Noah'; School chaplain derided for nun's remarks on homosexuality
By Matt C. Abbott

Two respected Catholic film critics have sharply differing reviews of Noah (which I haven't seen).

Barbara Nicolosi writes:
    Noah is a terrible, terrible movie. I kept thinking all through [it], 'Wow. The secular critics hate Christians this much. They hate the Christians so much that they will rave about this piece of crap because they think the Christians are going to hate it for ideological reasons.' And the Christian critics? Well, too many have been all balled up in the throes of self-loathing for at least a decade, which leads them to depths of self-contradiction in their popular culture appraisals that never seem to have a bottom....

    Anybody who says Christians need to see the movie to promote dialogue is being a tool. Anybody who says the movie is visionary is jumping on an Emperor has No Clothes bandwagon. Any pastor who creates a sermon to coincide with this awful piece is being played for a sucker. And the Christians who are promoting the film for money should be ashamed of themselves. Really, how dare you?
(Click here to read Barbara's review in its entirety.)

Steven D. Greydanus writes:
    Some might argue that Darren Aronofsky's Noah, with its wild elaborations upon the text of Genesis, can only further contribute to biblical illiteracy. Yet for all its dramatic and cinematic liberties, Noah is profoundly engaged with its source material. Noah takes Genesis seriously as a text worth reading carefully and thinking about deeply in its own right....

    Perhaps Noah is, in part, Aronofsky's way of giving shape in the realm of imagination to religious ideas and aspirations that he can't approach any other way. In any case, the film attests Aronofsky's belief, like Noah retelling the story of creation to his children (and possibly unlike Neil deGrasse Tyson), that these ancient stories have something meaningful to say to us today.
(Click here to read Steven's review in its entirety.)

Also, Father John Trigilio Jr., president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, gives the following commentary on Noah (slightly edited):
    While I applaud the effort to make a movie based on the Bible in a culture that views religion as irrational at best and fanatical at worst, I must withhold my endorsement of Noah.

    Imagine if a movie about Abraham Lincoln portrayed him as short or fat. Historical accuracy makes a movie more than merely credible; it makes it a work of art. Yes, fantasy and historical fiction are viable avenues for literature and film, but when dealing with biblical or historical topics, accuracy makes or breaks it for me. I like a little literary license here and there. Movies such as The Longest Day employed German speaking actors, and the producers did their homework in research so that aside from chit-chat dialogue fabricated by the writers, accurate names of people and places were integral to the movie. Most of all, it accurately depicted precisely what happened on D-Day.

    Noah should have stayed with the inspired text of Sacred Scripture. 'Creator' is not used in Genesis 6. The Hebrew word 'Boreh' (Creator) is not employed, but the words 'Adonai' (Lord) and 'Elohim' (God) are used throughout the Noah story. Yet, the movie conspicuously omits these two and uses sparingly the word 'Creator.' Some may say that's mere semantics, but it's only the beginning.

    The reason for the flood is the core of the Noah story. The Easter Vigil readings and the blessing of water in the rite of baptism refer to the flood of Noah as a type or symbol. The physical water of the deluge washed away the evil men and women of the world, just as the waters of baptism wash away original sin. The movie, however, softens and makes ambiguous the raison d'Ítre for God to flood the earth. Mankind had become evil and wicked. Murder, debauchery, fornication, adultery, incest, rape and violence were rampant.

    Sexual depravity, idolatry and other immoral behavior offended the Lord God, Who decided to make a new beginning, according to Genesis. The movie, however, insinuates a more benign reason. Whether it's being carnivorous or showing dominion over the environment, man is evil for daring to tame nature. The sin is the footprint humanity leaves on the planet.

    That's not what the Biblical story of Noah and the flood is about.

    Just as The Last Temptation of Christ took too much liberty in so-called literary license, Noah tries to blend accurate scriptural information (the name Noah, the flood, the ark and the animals) with politically correct 21st-century ideologies; and just like The Da Vinci Code made Vatican conspiracies plausible but not proven or corroborated with empirical evidence, Noah takes the skeleton of the flood story and superimposes a modern mentality.

    How about just being accurate? You can't improve on inspired, revealed and inerrant text, so why try? Leave the Bible, especially the Gospels, as they are. If a producer changed the words of the Gettysburg Address, would movie-goers like it? Of course not! Stick to the facts and to the script – as given us by the Holy Spirit.

    Outside the omission of Moses' probable stutter, at least The Ten Commandments did a better job telling the true story. The literary license used there was merely filling in the gaps left by Sacred Scripture. Noah, on the other hand, crosses the line and portrays an angry Noah as opposed to a faithful Noah. Faithful to God, I should say...not to the planet.

    Religious movies are successful, but Hollywood needs to remember: When you have a bestseller like the Bible, keep the film accurate to the printed word and your movie will be equally successful. Reinvent it and don't be surprised when it falls short.


From Mary Ann Kreitzer's blog (slightly edited):
    I [Mary Ann Kreitzer] received the email below from a friend in Charlotte with regard to a controversy over a religious sister explaining to Catholic high school students the truths of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. That such an event could cause 'controversy' at a Catholic school is highly disturbing. That it could be the source of the orthodox chaplain's persecution is outrageous.

    It illustrates that many parents at Catholic schools are either 1) not Catholic and oppose Church teaching or 2) cafeteria Catholics who pick and choose the doctrines they follow and publicly repudiate those with which they disagree.

    If you live in Charlotte, I hope you will sign up for the 40 hours prayer vigil. If you don't live in Charlotte, please join spiritually praying for the parents who are scandalizing their children. Please also pray for Sister Jane Dominic, but especially for the school chaplain, Father Kauth. 'St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle....'



    My dear friends in Christ,

    As many of you have heard by now, our very own Charlotte Catholic High School is embroiled in quite a spiritual battle. Among other crises, we are currently witnessing an intense backlash regarding a lecture given to the student body last Friday by Sister Jane Dominic of Aquinas College.

    In her talk, Sister highlighted the beauty found in God's creation, specifically that we are made in His image as male and female. She lovingly and methodically went through salvation history, employing Sacred Scripture, art, philosophy and science to develop the theme that God's gifts are intrinsically woven into our nature as either male or female; and that when we serve each other through these roles, we bring untold blessings to our families and to society. The talk espoused nothing but perfect Church teaching, which, I'm sad to say, is not universally accepted at our school.

    The controversy is primarily centered on the second half of Sister's talk, which tackled homosexuality. She approached this difficult subject with humility and bravery. I attended the lecture and felt joyful and relieved that such a large group of our teenagers were being exposed to these truths.

    Unfortunately, the most malicious attacks are being directed at our good chaplain, Father Kauth, who invited Sister to speak. And while he was not previously aware of Sister's plans to poignantly challenge homosexuality, he obviously stands in defense of her and, more importantly, in defense of Church teaching. This fact outrages some of our parents, who sadly prefer to threaten and scorn rather than explore Church teaching.

    I invite each of you to take part in a 40 hour prayer vigil in support of Father Kauth. As our leader in the Faith at Charlotte Catholic, he will bear the brunt of this battle. Let us get behind him and help him....
The story has also been covered by the secular media and Catholic World News.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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