Saturday, May 31, 2014

Movie Review: Noah

Sooo . . . As you can imagine, Darren Aronofsky took numerous liberties in his film version of Noah and the flood. Bottom line: I would never watch the movie again.

That said, I'm glad I saw it at least once. Apart from the gross inaccuracies, it was quite interesting to watch how things might have happened just before the rains came, particularly the logistics of getting every animal on the ark. And once they're all on the ark, what happens then? In the movie, Noah's wife concocts an herbal incense to put the animals to sleep. Ha! Clever! I never thought about how the animals would stay on the ark without getting sea-sick or volatile, but incense! That was a good idea! And the depiction of the flood was great, too. Rains fell from the sky, but fountains of water burst forth from deep inside the earth—that was a detail of the Biblical account I had never paid attention to before.The Creation was touched on a bit as well, and it was interesting to see how other people envision it.

The movie kind of fell apart for me after that, though. Aronofsky created a Noah that I definitely did not like, and to be honest, I think he did a disservice to The Bible as a literary work. Regardless of whether The Bible is a divinely-inspired work or not, I don't think anyone can deny that it's a fantastic book from beginning to end. There's so much great content already; why would anyone alter the stories as much as Aronofsky altered the account of Noah and the flood? I think it would've been a much better—and bigger box-office sell—if he had stuck to the general outline given in Genesis.

At any rate, he didn't. So I'll take this opportunity to clear some things up: 1) All three of Noah's sons had wives by the time the flood came; 2) No one else besides Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons' wives were on the ark; and 3) Everyone else on the earth at the time of the flood was wicked. (There is some question as to when, exactly, Methuselah died, but Bible scholars have concluded that it was in the year of the flood.)

I'll also take this opportunity to quote what Latter-day Saint scholars and prophets have said about Noah and the purpose of the flood:*

Noah, a Man Who Walked and Talked with God
“Let no one downgrade the life and mission of this great prophet. Noah was so near perfect in his day that he literally walked and talked with God. …
“Few men in any age were as great as Noah. In many respects he was like Adam, the first man. Both had served as ministering angels in the presence of God even after their mortal experience. Adam was Michael, the archangel, but Noah was Gabriel, one of those nearest to God. Of all the hosts of heaven, he was chosen to open the Christian era by announcing to Mary that she would become the mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He even designated the name by which the Redeemer should be known here on earth, saying He would be the Son of God. …
“… The Lord decreed that [the earth would be cleansed] by water, a worldwide deluge. Therefore, from among his premortal spirit children, God chose another great individual—His third in line, Gabriel—to resume the propagation of mankind following the flood.” (Mark E. Petersen, Noah and the Flood [1982], 1–4.)

The Flood as an Act of Love
“Now I will go back to show you how the Lord operates. He destroyed a whole world at one time save a few, whom he preserved for his own special purpose. And why? He had more than one reason for doing so. This antediluvian people were not only very wicked themselves, but having the power to propagate their species, they transmitted their unrighteous natures and desires to their children, and brought them up to indulge in their own wicked practices. And the spirits that dwelt in the eternal worlds knew this, and they knew very well that to be born of such parentage would entail upon themselves an infinite amount of trouble, misery and sin. And supposing ourselves to be of the number of unborn spirits, would it not be fair to presume that we would appeal to the Lord, crying, ‘Father, do you not behold the condition of this people, how corrupt and wicked they are?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is it then just that we who are now pure should take of such bodies and thus subject ourselves to most bitter experiences before we can be redeemed, according to the plan of salvation?’ ‘No,’ the Father would say, ‘it is not in keeping with my justice.’ ‘Well, what will you do in the matter; man has his free agency and cannot be coerced, and while he lives he has the power of perpetuating his species?’ ‘I will first send them my word, offering them deliverance from sin, and warning them of my justice, which shall certainly overtake them if they reject it, and I will destroy them from off the face of the earth, thus preventing their increase, and I will raise up another seed.’ Well, they did reject the preaching of Noah, the servant of God, who was sent to them, and consequently the Lord caused the rains of heaven to descend incessantly for forty days and nights, which flooded the land, and there being no means of escape, save for the eight souls who were obedient to the message, all the others were drowned. But, says the caviller, is it right that a just God should sweep off so many people? Is that in accordance with mercy? Yes, it was just to those spirits that had not received their bodies, and it was just and merciful too to those people guilty of the iniquity. Why? Because by taking away their earthly existence he prevented them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness.” (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 19:158–59.)

Pretty interesting, no? What if—what if—Aronofsky had read these studies on Noah and the flood and had made a movie about what might have been concurrently happening in heaven at the time? That would've been pretty awesome.

One of these days, I'm going to become a filmmaker . . .

*I pulled these quotes from The Old Testament Student Manual, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See Genesis 4–11: The Patriarchs for more commentary on Noah and the flood.


Thing I'm thankful for: people who study scripture

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cherry Picking the Good Ol' Days

I read an article today called Why Your Grandparents Didn't Have Food Allergies. . . But You Do. I didn't love the article, mostly because I don't have any major qualms with genetically-modified foods or food additives (See The Case for Genetically-Modified Food), and I am a strong proponent of modern medicine, particularly immunizations. But you've all read my posts on those topics.

Here's what I don't know about: the claim that my grandparents really didn't have food allergies. Maybe that's true; I don't know. (If someone out there can point to some reliable sources on this, I would be very grateful.) This idea that people in the past did things better or had better lives . . .  I mean, who can say?  It's especially easy to extol the everyday physical stuff, such as the way people ate or exercised, but when we talk of mores and values and social programs, not a lot of people mention those "good ol' days."  Does every generation, then, decrease in understanding where physical well-being is concerned, yet increase in understanding where cultural and political issues are concerned?  That just doesn't make much sense.

Aside from the content of it, this article got me thinking about how and why we either value or don't value "the good ol' days." And who's to say what those days are? Some people point all the way back to the Paleolithic Age, claiming that our "caveman" ancestors practiced the best eating habits and knew the proper way to give birth. Others praise the qualities of "The Greatest Generation" or the 1950s way of life. Everyone has their own version of "the good ol' days," and somehow, they decide what constitutes the "good."

I say "they," but of course, I should say "we" because I do it, too.  I think my version is sometime between 1940–1990, and I think these are some things from that 50-year span we have lost:

  • Good penmanship
  • Regular family dinner, eaten at a table and without a TV on
  • The opposite of helicopter parenting, whatever that's called
  • Classic sitcoms (e.g., "Cheers," "The Cosby Show," and "The Brady Bunch")
  • No smartphones
Conversely, here are some things that are definitely improvements on those decades:
  • Smartphones
  • Laparoscopy
  • Nanotechnology
  • Better understanding and treatment of mental disorders
  • HGTV

Readers, what do you think we've lost? What do you think we've improved on?


Thing I'm thankful for: freshly-baked tortillas

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Open Letter to The Killers

Dear The Killers,

This is the best lyric in any song, ever:

"The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun."

I keep thinking about it lately.  Maybe it's because the New Mexico sky is so wonderful, or maybe it's because I'm in a rock 'n' roll mood at the moment.  Either way, I think it's a good line to keep in mind.  It reminds me that the world is full of beautiful things.

Of course, all of that's to say that I want you to come to Albuquerque, and I'm sure lots of other people want you to, too.  Even if you could only come somewhere near Albuquerque, like Phoenix or Denver, that would be good, too.  Just try, okay?  Okay.


Sincerely,
Sara

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Read!

A friend recently said something about how spending money on textbooks in college is a waste of money. And I guess it is, if you never open them up and read them. Here's where I was—as an avid reader—offended: He suggested that rather than spend your money on textbooks, you should spend it on something cool.

Well, here's what: It's not cool to brag about how you passed a course without ever cracking a book.

I'll admit that I didn't read every single piece of required material during college and grad school. I'll also admit that I haven't kept up with the news in the last two months. I'll further admit that I haven't read a novel from cover to cover in about four months.

Those admissions are embarrassing, though. No, no one's perfect, and no, I don't expect everyone to be reading all day, every day. But people who can read should read. Read articles published for your chosen profession. Read the news every once in a while. Read a few magazines when you have some time to spare. And don't—under any circumstance—act like reading isn't worth your time. There are so many people in the world who don't know how to read because no one bothered to teach them. Or because they don't live in a place where it's allowed. Literacy is a blessing, and reading is a luxury. Take advantage of it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

All 80's, All the Time

You all should know by now how much I care about a city's radio stations.  Well, listen to this: Albuquerque has an 80's station!  It's 94.5, "all 80's, all the time." Tonight, they played 'Til Tuesday's Voices Carry.  Now, that may not mean much to you, but if you know that song, you know that 94.5 must be a good station.  Indeed, they play 80's songs I haven't heard in years!  It's great.  Just great.

If you had an 80's-only station in your city, what song would you want to hear?


Thing I'm thankful for: bbq chicken pizza from Papa John's

Monday, May 12, 2014

ATL to ATX to ABQ

Well, you may as well know that I've moved to Albuquerque.  And am still jobless.  And sort of homeless.  So that's why I haven't blogged much in a while.  I just haven't had much going on.  But don't worry about me; I've learned some important things lately:
  • How to pay attention to my deep-down feelings.
  • How to pray about hard things.
  • How to ignore the haters.  Haha.  But seriously, I think a lot of life is learning how to not let other people bulldoze over your own personality and intuition, etc., etc.
  • How to open up to the people who can help you realize your ideas.
  • How to correctly spell "Albuquerque."  It's a real skill, people.  Just try to spell it right now; I bet it's tough.  I'll give you a tip, though; you can shorten it to"ABQ." It's an incredible time-saver.
This is a difficult time for me, but when is a move not difficult for me?  I'm doing my best to stay positive, though, and there are definitely wonderful facets to this place called New Mexico.  I'll tell you all about them as I go.  Here's one thing: mountains!



Thing I'm thankful for: my mom and pops.  They're pretty much the best.