I haven’t seen the new Noah movie, so this is not a review, nor does it pretend to be. Let that be said up front, lest anyone try to collar me for “speaking of that which he knoweth not.”
I’ve been following the controversy generated by the film for awhile now. Some Christians love Aronofsky’s work, others hate it, and still others have a lukewarm respect for it. The arguments from all three camps have been fun to follow. But there’s one argument from the Love It Camp which I can’t stand, and that is the “not a theologian” argument. Take, for example, Jim Daly (president of Focus on the Family) arguing thusly:
Darren Aronofsky is not a theologian, nor does he claim to be. He is a filmmaker and a storyteller.
Really now. This is such obvious nonsense that I have difficulty believing it was spoken with a straight face. (And as an aside: I’ve never heard this “logic” applied to any other director or film.) Theology, in a nutshell, is simply – or not so simply – what and how we think about God. So Aronofsky is very much a theologian. We all are. We may be good theologians, we may be bad theologians, but we cannot be non-theologians.
It will be said I’m clowning about with semantics here; that what Daly meant is that Aronofsky didn’t go to seminary or graduate with a Th.D. or something like that. My response would be threefold:
First, Daly’s wording is poor, and reinforces the widespread notion that theology is something only academics do, which is a 12oz can of Grade-A crapola.
Second, his statement implies a rift between theology and storytelling, as if the one had little or no effect on the other. More crapola. All stories are theological on some level, for the simple reason that what you think of the Storyteller will determine your approach to stories.
Third, so what? So what if Aronofsky didn’t go to seminary, or get some letters tacked on to the end of his name? This does not mean he gets a free pass on the Theology Boogaloo Express. After all, the test of a good storyteller isn’t merely whether he is compelling, but whether he is truthful. A certain snake in a certain garden once told a compelling tale. It was so compelling mankind has never recovered.
Again, I haven’t seen the movie, and until I do, I will not attempt to debate those of you who have. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to defend it, you’ll have to do better than that.