Monday 31 March 2014

NOAH: "The least biblical film ever made" -Aronovsky. "ANTI-biblical" - WhoCanStand. (A Christian Review)

Here at WHO CAN STAND, we stand on the truth of Scripture. And so when it comes to Hollywood depictions, we understand that they will always fall short of the beauty of the biblical story.  There will be areas where directors and screenwriters will have to make decisions about what to depict where Scripture is silent, and we knew this had to be the case with the Noah movie.  However, we can hope the filmmakers remain faithful to the context of the whole Bible, which the Noah movie most certainly failed to do.  The movie is not only unbiblical (including extra-biblical information and getting certain information wrong) but more importantly it is anti-biblical.  It goes against what we know to be true about God, men, and their relationship with one another.

(We have seen the movie and are going to be free with sharing any part of the plot relevant to our points throughout this review, just so you know!)

The worst thing about the Noah movie was how it depicted God - referred to as "The Creator" throughout the film.  The God in the movie gives Noah limited information about what will happen and leaves him in confusion about how to fulfill His plans.  By the resolution of the movie, it's been "made clear" that "God" did this on purpose, so as to allow Noah himself to make the decision about what would be the outcome of mankind.  The movie puts mercy strictly in the hand of Noah - stripping "God" of it almost completely.  Noah's wife reiterates that their family is "good" because they have "love in their hearts", and "Isn't that all you need to be good?", she asks.  Noah - who rightly sees the wickedness within all of them - understands that it would be just if God chose for them to die.  What the movie fails to show is it was God's mercy that saved Noah, his family, and mankind.  In the film, in not murdering his grandchildren, it is Noah who is shown to be merciful, not God, and Noah's mercy is made out as potentially disobedient to God.

In truth, God's mercy towards mankind is completed in the work of bringing Jesus Christ through the lineage of Noah.  When you read the biblical text, you get a sense of the hope within the story - hope which points to and is realized in the death and resurrection of Jesus - who was foreshadowed even at the fall of Adam and Eve.  There is little hope in the resolution of the Noah movie, and there is no allusion to a coming savior.  (As a Jewish atheist, one wouldn't expect this from Aronofsky, but even he would know that God was preserving the line of Noah in order to bring the Messiah.)

Many have spoken of the environmental slant of the film, and the truth is that we get a glimpse of what radical environmentalism does look like in the lunacy of Noah in the second half of the film.   His desire is only to see the animals and creation saved and preserved in a state untouched by humans.  Noah values animal life over human life - like some of the proponents of the environmental movement today. Aronofsky paints an accurate picture of the logical outworking of radical environmentalism.  The scene of Noah climbing the ladder and walking along the top of the ark with the look of a crazed madman with a knife in hand to kill his grand-daughters is an insight into the dark thoughts of some radical environmentalists.

Noah's apparent 180 with regards to the preservation of mankind is not only unbiblical, but it doesn't even make sense within the context of the film.  Noah sees the wickedness of man and recognizes it in both himself and each of his individual family members and without much explanation this leads him to decide God wants the human race to end with them, and it is Noah's duty to kill anyone who may foil "God's plan" - even if they are his own grandchildren.

This creates the major theological issue discussed earlier - that God, as depicted in the movie, has apparently left judgement and mercy both in the hands of Noah and is taking a "hands off" approach to the whole ordeal.  When Noah spares his grand-daughters, he believes he is going against God's will.  This problem is apparently resolved when his daughter-in-law explains to him that when God chose Noah to build the ark, He was also choosing him to decide whether or not to destroy mankind or to let it continue.  In Scripture we see something quite to the contrary.  God chose Noah because he was a just and righteous man.  God instructed Noah to bring his sons and their wives onto the ark, and the first instruction He gives them when they leave the ark is to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." (Genesis 9:1 and similarly in Genesis 9:7).   So we see that it was God's plan from the start for Noah and his family to be saved and to continue to procreate.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see the idea that God created the earth to be free of mankind.  Though a popular idea in some circles, it is strictly anti-biblical.

When we exchange the truth of God's plan for mankind with the lie of population control we get ugly things like "gendercide".  It is only too common in India, China and becoming more common here in North America and was depicted in the film when Noah planned to kill his grandchildren only if they were girls.   Having recently known the joy of birthing a baby girl, we cannot imagine the pain which endures in cultures where the knowledge that one is carrying a girl may be the worst thing you could hear - because it means your daughter will be murdered before she's born (or shortly after).  Anyone who was disturbed by the film Noah's decision to murder his grandchildren because they are girls, but supports abortion, should question why they support a form of execution which has been the tool of choice in the capital punishment of well over 100 million (The Economist, March 2010) baby girls whose only crime was to be a girl. The term capital punishment is used intentionally, though loosely, because in almost all cases, the state condones the execution.  (This also applies to feminists who support abortion - you can't support the abortion of babies but not support the abortion of girl babies - it just doesn't make sense.  If you think otherwise, please try to make a coherent argument for it in the comments.)

While we're on the topic of women, just note that throughout the film it is the women who consistently are the most compassionate, wise, and insightful characters.  We believe, of course, that women can be all these things - but so can men.  Could this be another subtle attempt within the feminist agenda to discredit men as foolish, crazy or unfeeling?  (Read this.)

You've probably already heard about the rock watchers... Some are saying they are inspired by the "sons of God" or the "giants" from Genesis 6, but really we don't see angels encased in rock anywhere in Scripture. More so, the whole idea that God would use disobedient angels to save mankind (and then forgive and redeem them) is contradictory to what we know of God's dealing with men and angels.

We could spend all night listing inaccuracies but here are a few more:
1. There was no need for numerous animals of the same kind to be on the ark, because natural selection gives us all the different species in a specific kind. Can a reasonable engineer, mathematician, or zoologist believe that all the animals we see in the world today could have come from ancestors that together fit in the ark?  Yes!
2. There were 8 people who entered the ark - Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives - and Noah was clearly instructed to bring them.
3. Though it is true that men did not eat meat before the flood, the movie failed to show that God allowed them to eat meat after the flood - he did not expect them to be perpetual vegetarians.

The one major thing we feel was done well is that the depravity of mankind was clearly displayed.  Man sinned in the garden, choosing his own ways over God's ways.  This led to toil, pain, death and murder, to the point where "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."  (Genesis 6:5) In the movie girls are sold for food.  This is the kind of world that God in His justice chose to destroy.  We also see that even after the flood, sin was still in the world - as it is today.  You only have to read a few verses after the flood has ended to see Noah's drunkenness and Ham's wrongdoing.  Again, what the movie fails to show is God's redemptive power in the face of such wickedness.

Two BAD Reasons to See the Noah Movie 

"A secular studio has spent hundreds of millions of dollars telling a Bible story - we should support them!" But if they butcher the plot, twist the characters, and make a heresy of God, the hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in deceiving millions of people.  Support studios that make Christian films which are true to the Bible.

"You need to see it so you'll have a conversation starter with unsaved friends."  Here's a better way you can start a conversation with unsaved friends: like Noah, live a life of radical righteousness.  Show Christlike love to your wife.  Respect and honour your husband.  Raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Take care of the poor and needy in your community.  Love your enemies.  These sort of counter-cultural actions, done in obedience and out of love for Christ, will give you ample opportunities to explain why you do what you do.

In Conclusion

The sad thing is that this movie had great potential.  A talented cast and team coupled with a truly great, moving, and awesome true story can make for a potent combination.  It was sad to leave the theater knowing that such an opportunity had been missed.

We don't recommend the film.  But we pray that God will raise up men and women who will take dominion even over the film industry - using it as a tool to bring glory to God and shine forth the truth of Scripture and the gospel to many.

1 out of 4 stars from the Who Can Stand movie critics.  Don't waste your money on this.

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We also recommend reading The Bigger Problem with the Noah Movie by Growing Home.

(Linked up at Growing HomeThe Modest Mom, Raising Homemakers, Walking RedeemedRaising Arrows, Raising Mighty Arrows, and Graced Simplicity, Thrive @ Home, Serving Joyfully)

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Anniversary Memory Date!

Andrew and I are celebrating 3 years since our wedding day!  I know many of you have probably been married much longer than that (Maybe even 25 years? Shout it out in the comments!).

This is an activity which will be a blessing no matter how long its been since your wedding day.  It really doesn't need an explanation, and is just a wonderful excuse to take a trip down memory lane.  You can change it up - adding in the number of years you've been married, and even edit the memories you come up with.

I had included two printouts of it in the March envelope for Andrew's Year of Dates Christmas present, and we took them out the week before our anniversary.  We are filling them in separately, and then tomorrow when we go out for dessert, we'll share our own with each other and I'm sure it will be a great way to remember all the ways that God has blessed us and shown himself faithful over the past three years.

May it be a blessing to you and your spouse as well - download and edit yours here!

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(Linked up at Growing Home)

Tuesday 11 March 2014

We Need More People To Say "We Just Can't Afford That!"

We love budgeting. Weird as it may be, it's true. I wish everyone had a budget just so that they could have as much fun as I do at the end of the month!  But I know as well as you that it's fun to be on a budget as long as it's not really affecting you too much.  Once you start having to give up things you really enjoy - dinner out with your spouse, coffee with friends, new clothes for your kids, expensive groceries - it sorta takes the fun out of it, doesn't it?

On top of that, it's not very cool to be frugal.  It's not even trendy to save money.  What's trendy is to get the things you want...right away!  To not worry about money!  To live like there's no tomorrow!  To just loosen up a little and have some fun - YOLO! :)

And its because of a cultural mentality like that, that we end up with images like this:  

The US national debt in 1791 was 75 million, now it goes up by that much ever hour (source). Total student loan debt has exceeded 1 trillion dollars (source). For houses that have credit card debt, the average credit card debt is $15,779. Mortgage lenders in America have more equity in homes than the American people do (source).  We can't afford our homes, cars, school or stuff. 

(original photo source)

So what's the solution?  For starters, we need more people to be honest and say "We just can't afford that". Imagine the freedom!?  Instead of all the worry and excuses about what to say to people, we'd just tell them to truth!  And then maybe they'd feel better about doing the same, and everyone will start making wiser financial choices.  

To inspire you, here's a list of a few of the things we "just can't afford" right now:
  • a vacation
  • restaurant date nights
  • a second car (or a minivan)
  • organic free-range meat
  • a house (we rent)
  • cute new baby clothes
So the next time someone asks you to do/go/buy something that you shouldn't, instead of beating around the bush, take a deep breath and tell them the truth - we just can't afford that right now!

Are you with me?!  What's on your list?

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Friday 7 March 2014

Blueberry Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake!

I wanted to make something special for Andrew's 30th birthday last week but I also didn't want to spend a lot of extra money and, if I could help it, I wanted to avoid having to go to the grocery store again that week - not too much to ask right?  :)

Using a combination of recipes, I created this - may I say - masterpiece!  It really was delicious, and surprisingly easy.

The Crust

1.5 cups graham cracker  or Oreo cookie crumbs (store bought or you can blend/crush some up)
6 tablespoons melted butter

Mix together and press evenly into the bottom of a  10 or 12 inch springform pan.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes until set.  Remove from oven.

The Cheesecake

3 packages 8oz cream cheese
1.5 cups sugar
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup plain greek yoghurt (or use regular yoghurt but don't take the watery part when it separates)

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each.  Stir in yoghurt.  Pour into pan and smooth out top.   Bake at 350F fro 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Then turn off oven, open the oven door and let stand for 15 minutes.

The Topping

3 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar
2-4 tablespoons water

Mix ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil at medium-high heat.  Be careful not to burn.  Simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickened, stirring occaisionally.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour cooled topping over cooled cheesecake and refrigerate at least 2 hours - the more the better.  (I made mine two days ahead of time.)  Remove from springform pan, slice, serve and enjoy!

(As a starting point I used recipes from The Joy of Cheesecake (specifically for the crust) and Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cheesecake.)

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Wednesday 5 March 2014

THE OSCARS: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - a Christian perspective

There was a time when I started counting down to the Oscar's as soon as Christmas was over, tried to see all the movies that were nominated, and waited in anticipation to see what all the stars would be wearing.   Instead this year, I realized the Oscar's were on one week before the date, I had seen only one of the films, and ... well I was still excited to see all those pretty dresses!

After the crude behaviour from last year's host - I wasn't even sure I wanted to watch them this year.  But hoping the producers of the show recognized the problem too, I tuned in with a critical eye...

The Good

It is a great thing to celebrate excellence.  The Bible tells us: "whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).  The purpose of the Academy Awards is to recognize great achievements in various aspects of the film industry - from acting and directing, to editing, sound, costumes, etc.  In doing so, they applaud what has been done, and spur others on to do their best.  In times past, the Oscar's have recognized such great movies as Ben Hur, The Sound of Music, Chariots of Fire and Schindler's List.  This year, 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture - the pre-Civil War story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was captured and sold into slavery.  Stories like this teach us about history, help us understand the depravity of man, and inspire us to seek justice in our own time.  They demonstrate not only an excellence in the technical aspects of film making, but the moral element as well.  (After all, all movies are moral.)

The theme of the Oscar broadcast this year was "Heroes", and we saw the celebration of other real life people through the nominated films, such as Captain Philips, who showed true manliness and heroism in putting his own life before those of his crew when his ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates.  (This was the one movie we did see, and we also read part of his book which was very interesting.)

There was a time when the majority of winners thanked God in their acceptance speeches - but last night this number was limited to two.  Darlene Love, winner for Best Documentary Short, followed up her "Lord God I praise you!" with a soulful rendition of the lyrics true for any believer: "I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free.  'Cause His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me".  I don't know how many people in that theater understood the true meaning behind those words, but they at least saw the beauty in them - and she received a standing ovation.  For me, that was the highlight of the show.

A surprising aspect of the show was the class many of the women showed in their dress selections.  It has been common in years past to see low necklines and high slits, but many of the women this year demonstrated that you can dress modestly with style - whether you are 20, 60, or even pregnant:

Ladylike Style: Glenn Close, Naomi Watts, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Camila Alves

The Bad

Unfortunately, the Academy's idea of excellence sometimes differs from "whatever is true, good, noble, just, lovely and admirable" (Phillipians 4:8).  The list of nominated films included celebrations of sin (The Wolf of Wall Street, even the movie poster my husband turns his eyes from), twisted ideas of love (Her - the story of a man who has a romantic relationship with a computer operating system), and movies you "wouldn't want to watch with your mother" (how someone I know described American Hustle).

Hollywood obviously has an Agenda, and they are pushing it.   Although this year it wasn't so blatant as having Michelle Obama present the final award (last year's pro-liberal, albeit nuanced, move), it shows itself in the movies selected.  Morality became unfashionable years ago, but most recently we really see the boundaries of what should be acceptable being pushed.

The second mention of God came when Matthew McConaughney accepted the award for Best Actor.  His speech was confusing at best, and heretical at worst.  Stating that God is who he looks up to, and that it is a "scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates", he also painted a picture of heaven (or maybe hell?) where men sit around in their underwear drinking beer.  It hardly seems that he has an understanding of the glory and reverence due to God for the sacrifice Christ made when He died on the cross as atonement for the sins of all who believe in Him.  He quoted one Charlie Laughton as saying "When you've got God, you've got a friend. and that friend is you."  I'm not really sure what to make of this, but it sounds to me like he's saying we are our own God - and the true power comes from inside us.  However, the Bible teaches that we are all wicked in our own hearts (which we can easily see if we honestly consider our own thoughts and attitudes) and that it is only through the power of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit regenerates our soul.

The Ugly

And what about the parts of the Oscar ceremony which aren't really BAD, but they aren't really GOOD either?  It seemed that the position of host - someone who introduces us to the films, helps with transitions between awards, and adds a bit of humour to the ceremony, has degenerated.  This year, learning from the criticism garnered by last years crudity - instead what we got was foolishness and a demeaning of the industry.  It's ironic that though comedies are rarely nominated at the Academy Awards, the broadcast seems to be trying to make itself into one.    The focus is moved from the films itself, to the celebrities in the crowd - and how much they'll tip for pizza, or what they look like in a twitter photo. Even secular critics recognized this problem - TIME reviewing the broadcast wrote: "The whole broadcast, really, was like a party-sized order of standard cheese pizza.  You weren't going to go to your grave craving it.  It was a little bland.  But nobody actively hates it." A show about excellence should really be able to do better than that.

What did you think about this years Oscars?

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You may also be interested in: 3 Reasons Christians Should Be Concerned about the Oscars