It’s a little late to be blogging about Easter, but I never mentioned it in Holy Week and I won’t get another chance to dwell on it so deliberately for another year at least.
In the current edition of Journey we have an article about experiencing Easter afresh so we remember its true power. One of the things I reflected on over the Easter weekend was the line from Peter Lockheart near the end of that article, “It is good to have that personal notion that Jesus came for ‘me’, but Jesus didn’t come for ‘me’, Jesus came for the cosmos.”
That’s not necessarily a new idea for me, but meditating on that, it occurred to me that thinking about Jesus’ death and resurrection in this way is fundamentally different to how many people live out their Christian faith. At Easterfest I heard a lot of people talk about how, “You might not think you’re good enough, but Jesus died for you and God has a plan for your life.” That’s encouraging in one way, but it really just reenforces the idea that I am the centre of the universe. If anything, that’s the real problem and the real thing I need to be released from.
I’m so thankful that Jesus died for the cosmos. The Spirit is actively at work doing whatever it wills. Whether or not I am a part of that it totally irrelevant, and that’s a relief. I don’t need to save the world—that work is already in progress.
But for whatever reason, I am invited to take part in that work. I am caught up in it as it swirls around the cosmos in which I exist. I’m courted to take part in it, even. I get the feeling that any effort on my part, no matter how small or irrelevant, brings enormous joy to God because he loves me and has enabled me to contribute. It isn’t about me, but I am still able to participate in this story.
Silly old me, so unsuited to so many things, not best at anything, forever having to learn and relearn everything, gets to be part of the many-personed body of Christ and his saving, restoring work. Thank God I’m not an irreplaceable cog in that mechanism, but he saw fit to make use of me anyway.
It’s now too late at night for me to really finish off this blog post how I want, but that’s it. That’s my Easter.
I’m not a massive cat person, that is, except for on my Facebook cover photo because the internet is for cats. But yesterday I changed my cover photo to yet another cat and not a single person liked the post.
What isn’t to like?
Is the cat not funny enough? Will people think I really, unironically love cats? I have that problem enough when I post silly pictures of cats, like cats in tights, wet cats and cats eating spaghetti. It doesn’t matter how silly the cats are, some people think I just like cats because they are cats!
But no, I only like weird cats. I like them because cats take themselves too seriously, but they are very silly animals. This is the inherent humour in cats.
Trust me I have thought long and hard about this. No other animal quite captures the simultaneous pride and folly of cats. Beautiful cats just don’t do it for me. They just don’t capture the true spirit of cats.
But like I said, I’m not really a cat person in the sense of cat people people. I’m not into cats the same way I’m into chickens, for example. I just think they are kind of weird.
That’s a little better.
I mean that’s what the internet is for, right? Sharing strange, interesting things. What is the point of not-weird cats! Did I make a bad cover photo decision? Was my cat not weird enough?
I think I need to find a new cat for Facebook. I need to find a picture of the quintessential cat. A paragon of feline foolishness! Because that’s what the internet is for. It is for cats.
It might take a little while though, because like I said, I’m not really a cat person. I just think they’re funny. It’s not like I search Google for cats all the time or as if I regularly take selfies with a cat. I don’t want everyone to think I’m obsessed with cats. I’m just doing it because it’s the internet and the internet is for cats.
I’m not really all that into cats.
If anyone finds a good cover photo suggestion I’d really love to see it. Clearly I need all the help I can get.
What is this doing here we were talking about cats.
Tonight I went to Freedom2b, which is a support group for LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds. I don’t always go, but this month we watched The Cure—a documentary about gay and lesbian Christians who went through ex-gay programs.
It feels strange for me to go to f2b sometimes, because I’ve lived a pretty charmed existence as a gay Christian. Watching the movie, it really reinforced the sense I have that I dodged a bullet. I never wound up in an ex-gay program. My parents weren’t openly hostile to gay people while I was questioning my sexuality and took my coming out really well. I even had a primary school teacher who set me up to handle coming out in a Christian environment (although I didn’t realise that’s what was happening at the time).
How did I get away with it? I didn’t do anything to make any of this happen. How could I?
Perhaps it was divine intervention. Perhaps I was just lucky. Either way, my gratitude is so deep I’ll never be able to fully express it.
Also, it’s not over yet. Charmed lives don’t always last.
Currently, I am sitting on my boyfriend’s couch typing on an iPad. I confess I have never typed on an iPad before. It is weird—a cross between a keyboard and a smartphone—so I apologise for any typos or autocorrect errors that may result.
Also, there will be no BEDA image today, because I don’t have image editing software on this iPad.
Anyway, the thing I want to write about here is the movie Noah—specifically the things that I wish I could publish in the review I’m writing for Journey, but I won’t because I’m too shy and I don’t want the readers to think I’m picking a fight with them.
There has been a bit of a kerfuffle about this movie among Christians. Is the film biblical? Does it take too many liberties with the text? Why does it make me so uncomfortable? Does it represent the story accurately? Does it represent people of faith positively? Please tell me I MUST KNOW before I accidentally give $17 to the devil when I buy my ticket!
That kerfuffle is partly why I like the film so much. It’s making Christians ask some of those tough questions about the Bible. Is it more important to portray the text word-for-word or to capture the spirit of the story? Are those things mutually exclusive? What about those bits we gloss over in Sunday school? Noah getting off his face on wine isn’t a very good example of righteousness, so we usually skip that part, but it’s in there.
The main problem I have with much of the Christian criticism of the movie is that it’s basically selfish. It’s essentially:
1. How does this movie represent ME, as a person of faith?
2. Does this movie (made by an atheist, oh dear!) live up to MY standards and the special knowledge I have as a person of faith?
Obviously the movie isn’t about Christians (or Jews or Muslims, to whom this story is also important!), but it does raise questions about how faith is lived out. I actually think Noah is an important movie, partly, because it is made by a person with no faith. Aronofsky explores territory every other makers of biblical films have so far avoided—to their detriment.
That’s not even including the fact that although they are holy to followers of Abrahamic faiths, the biblical stories don’t belong exclusively to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The story of Noah isn’t important only because of the faithful; it has something to say to everyone, regardless of faith, and they are free to engage with it however they like. This movie opens up Noah’s story to anyone who cares to engage, and it vaults over this story’s traditional gatekeepers in the process. It seems to me that these gatekeepers are upset about it.
You don’t need special knowledge to read Noah’s story and be moved by it. You don’t need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour to imagine what it was like on the ark, or wonder why in this story God would prescribe such a calamitous event in response to a broken world.
Noah—and Adam and Moses and Samuel and Isaiah and Jesus and John and Paul—are for everybody. They are important to me. Perhaps I could go so far as to say that understanding them is vital to understanding me—but they don’t belong to me.
The Bible is for everyone, and if you can open it up a little wider in a thoughtful and imaginative way, as Aronofsky has done with this film, then I applaud that effort.