In Aronovsky’s movie, Noah inhabits an enchanted world. kinopoisk.ru

From the first rain drop that mystically/magically replaces a plucked flower, we know that Noah is walking in a world that is enchanted is way we are not used to seeing.

The rules are a little different. Things work in slightly different ways from the world that we inhabit.

From the suspension of certain laws of physics to the wondrous seed of Eden and on to the healing blessing of a barren womb, the world is undoubtedly enchanted.

It is about that enchanted world that I want to propose a problem and a promise.

Problem

In a post-enlightenment world, we no longer have access to that level of enchantment – except in cinema. That is the importance of movies. Most of us no longer sit around the fire and hear the stories and mythic tales of the ancient generations.

Movies open up a world to us that seems closed in the ancient past. Cinema releases us from the confines of our limited imagination and allows us to imagine the world (in) a different way.

Movies spark our creativity and open us up to the possibility that the world can, and maybe should, be a different way. Movies like Avatar or Star Wars are not meant to be exegeted or examined for their exacting possibilities. That would be to miss the point.

Noah should be enjoyed in the same way. A movie like this should not be measured and weighed in an attempt to map its realistic representation. That would be to close down the possibilities. Aronofsky’s vision is to open up our imaginative creativity and invite a greater possibility.

Promise 

David Ray Griffin has ambitiously tackled this problem in his massive (and heady) tome Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism. You can read Bevery Clack’s excellent review here.

Clack explains:

the naturalism that underpins this model is

  • prehensive (highlighting the conscious or unconscious grasp of something)
  • panentheistic (god’s presence is in all)
  • panexperientialist (meaning that experience is not limited only to the sensory)

 

I don’t want to get bogged down in big words but that tri-framing opens up an important insight that Griffin lays out.

 First, as long as the scientific and religious communities regard each other with suspicion and hostility, it will be difficult for them to cooperate wholeheartedly to overcome the problems threatening civilization today, such as the global ecological crisis.

Second, religion that has not taken account of the truths revealed by science can be very dangerous.

Third, the development of a “scientific worldview” that does not incorporate the truths revealed by religious experience has led … to the view that the universe provides no normative values to guide the future course of civilization.

It is passages like the above that bring me back to the enchanted world of Noah. We love the idea of that world. It is partly why the epic-mythical-primal storytelling of those early accounts capture us at so many levels.

The unfortunate thing is that we have no access to that world anymore. This is where cinema comes in. Movies like Noah release us from the confines of our disenchanted and mundane existence and open up our imaginations to the possibilities of an enchanted world. The unfortunate reality is, however, that cinema is the only access most of have to a world like that.

We can’t go back. We could try but we would never make it. The better option is to live wholly into this world that we actually inhabit in a way that recognizes what is already (re)enchanted and allows us to participate with integrity in the world as it is.

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