First off, I caught the last 20 minutes of The Interview. Really, "Your butthole is ironic"? God, It's little wonder the rest of the world hates us, the culture who will affirm the production of a fifty million dollar simplistic, hyper-violent and just overall trashy film and then spend 15 dollars to see it while thousands die in Africa from Ebola. Yeah, yeah. It's the principle of the thing. They can't push us around. Well, congratulations, America. You've successfully defended your right to be a bunch of uncompassionate, simplistic, and self-righteous troglodytes while other nations starve. Hu-ah, Americans. Hu-ah.
I posted something similar on Facebook right afterwards. I prayed, God told me to take it down. I didn't want to propagate shame. I took it down. I'm glad I did.
Anyways, moving on. I won't even give the film any more recognition as existing. Things need oxygen to stay alive.
Noah. Darren Aronofsky's film. I screened it for the first time yesterday. Verdict in?
Not Gnostic. Gavel slams.
Oh, yes. I read Brian Mattson's review, and it did make me do some "chin stroking," though it was less confusion and more wonder at why Aronofsky spends his days plotting how to deceive and trick us simple little Christian lambs. Doesn't he have better reasons to make films like, I don't know, the subject matter interests him?
I then proceeded to read Peter T. Chattaway "Patheos" review on the same film, as well as that of a Jewish Rabbi, Eliyahu Fink, both experts on Kabbalah and seemingly well-informed about gnosticism as well, both of whom adamantly denied the film's gnostic tendencies and successfully differentiated the former from the latter.
Madden's five main points in his article.
1) Adam and Eve's "luminous" non-material bodies.
2) The supposed dualism of the heaven-earth dichotomy: heaven, good; earth, bad.
3) The redemption of the demons.
4) The snakeskin and serpent character.
5) "The Creator" as demiurge.
I'll admit, the idea of Adam and Eve with light bodies does have presence in Gnosticism.Because the Father monad is light, each emanation is also light, a light begotten of the original light and purposed to return to him. This parallel does also seem to hint toward gnosticism when, late in the film, at the crux of the battle with Tubal-Cain's tribe, the destroyed angels explode from their stony carapaces and shoot up heaven bound, seemingly made of the same luminous material as Adam and Even in the beginning.
But however strong the parallels, both Chattaway and Fink have (rightly) made the point that perfect bodies of light is hardly an idea original or unique to gnosticism. Both cite Moses' glowing face after his ascent of Mt. Arrat to God, and Chattaway cites the New Testament appearances of Moses and Isaiah and Jesus himself in their glowing, iridescent forms. And the idea of God being Light?
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5)
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. THe light shines in the darkness , and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
Johannine theology is chalk-full of God-as-Light imagery, and here we have at least two instances of God and Jesus Christ, the Word, referred to as light. And, yes, John is probably not speaking in literal terms here as the Gnostics would have been. But I'm not trying to prove traditional Christians believed in literal light bodies but only that this idea and imagery is very present pre- and outside- gnosticism.
And it doesn't even matter, because both Fink and Chattaway cite numerous early-Jewish sources which hint toward Adam and Eve's early light bodies as well as the numerous traditional Christian circles who believe something similar.
Beyond reasonable doubt? I think so. Strike one for Mattson.
Alright, alright. But if the light bodies don't prove the gnostic roots, then surely the blatant matter-spirit, heaven-world dualism does, right?
Mattson cites the idea that, in the film, the "way-up-there" world of spirit is good and the "way down here" world is bad, evil, an idea so utterly absent from the film you'd wish he'd screened the film more than once before writing his review in order to see how stupid this assertion is. In the beginning of the film, Noah tells his son not to pick the flower because it is part of God's creation and it has its own purpose. Later on, when loading the animals into the Ark, Noah again affirms the "created world" as good and God's creation when he tells his child again that "if anything we're to happen to [any of the species] it would be a small piece of creation lost forever." This is not the voice of a Gnostic parishioner. This is the voice of a life-affirming, creation-affirming father with such an utter respect for God's world he, later, comes to hate the humans who so utterly destroy it, a sentiment shared by many modern devouts at times including yours truly at times. Who hasn't hated humans at some point for jacking up God's world?
But doesn't the angels' descent and ascent prove that down-here is a world of punishment and up-there is a world of freedom and release? No. The watchers we're punished because they "disobeyed God", not because they wanted to help the humans and creation. And their imprisonment in stone doesn't necessarily prove that stone is evil, but just that something which is good can be used in an evil way when creatures disobey. You know what the dichotomy in Noah is? Life is good, death is bad. Stone is cold, lifeless, and dead. That's why the world is covered in it post-fall. Plants, water, and light are vivacious, fragrant, and full of movement and freedom. That's why the seed from the garden sprouts water and plant-life. That's why the angels shoot up, free of their heavy, lifeless shells upon their redemption. The watchers encasement in stone doesn't prove some world-evil, heaven-good dichotomy like Mattson seems to believe, but rather the dichotomies of life and death, stagnancy and movement, prison and freedom, dichotomies which, if Mattson hasn't noticed, are central to the Jewish and Christian traditions (not to mention Taoist, Islamic, and countless tribal religions) since day one in the garden of Eden.
I think I've sufficiently covered points two and three. Round four? Ding.
The snakeskin. I think that Ryan Holt, quoted by Chattaway, pretty much sums up the essence of what the snakeskin really means, as opposed to Mattson's supposed Sophia-wisdom "enlightenment" tolkien.
When the film gives us glimpses of the Garden of Eden, the snake originally glows like Adam and Eve, only to shed its luminous skin and become a dark black. The visual metaphor seems clear; the serpent abandons the glory of creation to become a creature of evil, and humanity soon follows after it. So the snakeskin reminds Noah and his family of the Eden that was lost, a testament to creation's original perfection.
The serpent was created good and then shed that goodness to become the tempter. The skin it wore when GOd created it is not a token of evil, but our original goodness -- and thus a true relic of paradise and a token that evil is always a corruption of goodness, never a thing unto itself.
I'm going to finish my polemic tomorrow. I'm out of time. Needless to say, though, yet another attempt from a conservative to demonize an otherwise simply-secular film as virulently anti-Christian. More tomorrow. I'm going out to beat a fundamentalist with the Gnostic scriptures. Time for some of your own medicine, fellas.