Saturday, June 30, 2007

Evan Almighty

Okay … I hate to do it. I really hate to do it! In fact … No! I won’t want to. But I have to. I have to be “that guy,” whoever he is. I know, okay! I know. Even Almighty, while displaying bits and pieces of truth, is merely a humanistic/Protestant liberal/social gospel interpretation of the biblical story of Noah, which ultimately distorts its interpretation at the most fundamental levels.

Okay … phew! Glad that’s done … But it is true.

Some thoughts:

[spoiler alert!! I might give some things away]
  1. God: God is a completely transcendent, non-Trinitarian being, although He show’s up looking like a human every now and then.
  2. Teleology: God seems to make it up as he goes. He comes across as a guy who has it all figured out but there really is no end in sight. He seems providential, but for what? This has huge effects on the movies anthropology.
  3. Anthropology: Three words: “Random Acts of Kindness,” or, ARK. That’s all God wants from His children. Oh, and more personal time with one’s family. We all have it in us to be a little bit better, although there is no standard or formation required to be better. It’s as if everyone just knows what it means to be kind.
  4. Sin: I am not quite sure what sin is in this world. While it seems that no one is really outside God’s saving grace, there is still some sort of evil reality. In this movie, John Goodman’s character personifies evil. I suppose this fits right along with a standardless understanding of what is good. Since we don’t know what is good we are free to decide on our own what is bad. But, doesn’t that make everyone wrong and everyone right?
  5. Christology: Ironic in all this is that God’s chosen pick for Noah is a politician who ran on the campaign slogan “change the world.” This blatantly undermines any understanding that the world changed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lest I dwell solely in the realm of deconstruction, I offer these bits and pieces of truth that the movie rips from more secure theological foundations. Thus, here are some well-intentioned themes the movie offers:

  1. Who are God’s people? Everyone! God has over 6 billion kids.
  2. ARK, or Random Acts of Kindness implies a very watered down and more vague notion of the historic understanding of the works of mercy. In other words, love one other. Be “charitable” to one another.
  3. God laughs and enjoys His creation. We see this in a scene where God shows up to see an old friend, which is a tree. Of course the implication of this is that God was for not with this tree, which is just not true. This is not to say that God communes with trees like he does with people, but at least the God of Even Almighty is not Pantheistic!
  4. More importantly, God wants to dance with us and enjoy our enjoyment of Him.

Why say all this? Because a short while ago the world picked up on the fact that it can make money off Christians. Over the next umpteen years we are going to see more surges in movies displaying obvious Christian themes. I am concerned that the Church might be to ignorant (please know that I say that as kind I possibly can) to call out those who make films like Even Almighty and offer critique on where they far and where they are near. Refer to my previous blog post and the play between analogy and parody.



James Diggs said...

OK, I didn’t read anything after your “spoiler alert”; so I guess that’s the majority of your post. But I was still curious about what aspects of a “humanistic/Protestant liberal/social gospel” you found in the film that was so off base? I don’t want the movie spoiled for me, but can you share what specific philosophical message you felt the movie was pushing without giving away plot points?

Kaz said...

I see your "it's a humanistic/Protestant liberal/social gospel interpretation of the biblical story of Noah" and raise you "it's also just plain bad." For more see, my review, though I hardly even get to critiquing it at the level you do, I can't get over the bad script!

Thomas Bridges said...

Kaz, where can I find your review?

Scott Savage said...


Thanks for posting. I think what I was trying to get at with “humanistic/Protestant liberal/social gospel” was the idea that presented in the movie is a type of Christianity fundamentally consistent with the Enlightenment project, i.e. vague, transcendent God and an anthropocentric Christianity. I through some concern about social gospel only to suggest that when the social gospel aligns itself with Enlightenment Christianity it became less distinctly Christian in its efforts, even though by sheer action it embrace many practices that are consistent with Christianity. I hope that helps a bit. While my post was rather confident, I am still working through these ideas. Post back when you have seen the movie.


Charlie said...

Hey Scott, I thought you had a good and measured take on the film. I pretty much enjoyed the film, not expecting anything incredibly profound out of it but was surprised here and there by some really good points (most of which you point out). We can all point at a mainstream blockbuster comedy and point out how far from Orthodox, Christological, Trinitarian Christianity it really is (what Seminary student hasn't been trained to poop on pop culture's version of God), but I appreciate that you took the time to point out what this film gets right.

Scott Savage said...

Thanks for the kind words! I wasn't expecting much as well, in fact, I probably enjoyed it a bit less than you, except when Noah gets hit in the crotch. I'm a sucker for classic comedy.