I saw the new movie Noah yesterday. And all it did was make me want to run and read my bible. I had seen the previews and knew that I was not about to see a literalist interpretation of the flood story in Genesis, but I think I was expecting to see more of God in it. Among the several artistic license additions to the story were some wild rock creatures that looked like ancient transformers who were fallen angels trapped in encrusted earth. They ultimately became Noah’s defenders (and they were mighty helpful building the ark), but ultimately they were destroyed and the angels were returned to God. These visual effects were wonderful, but did they enhance the story? Only for international sales perhaps. Once on the ark, Noah tells the story of creation to his family and there again, the evolutionary visuals are stunning. Likewise the flood is pretty impressive, but it is a relatively small part of the film. Noah is too busy being superhero, fighting off the wicked humans he encounters.

As we were driving away, my husband, who is not a theologian by any measure, asked me: What is the theology of that movie? I answered that as best I could tell there was a theology of ecology. The highest value was given to the creator and his love of creation which humankind has messed up. Also, being a vegetarian appears to be in alignment with this peace-loving God who seems willing to sacrifice people but not innocent animals. Granted the Old Testament God is pretty vindictive in the bible story. Mankind has betrayed God’s love and turned against one another, so God wipes out the race with a massive flood. But in Genesis, God feels remorseful about destroying all people (except Noah’s family) and makes a covenant with Noah’s descendants. The rainbow becomes the symbol of God’s loyalty, God’s love and God’s commitment to all flesh that is on earth. By the time we got to the rainbow in the movie, it had become about Noah’s struggle with God and family, not God’s struggle with humans. But, of course Russell Crowe is the star, not God.

A covenant is a kind of holy relationship, forged in love and trust and faith, that transforms and makes more of those who participate. That is what God was doing in Genesis. God was saying together we can do more than we could ever do alone. Of course, God, in his infinite wisdom, created us with free will and therefore, God cannot prevent us from destroying one another or destroying a beloved bible story either.