Tag Archives: God

Humanizing Noah

Have you watched the movie “Noah”? I strongly suggest you do. Though I do have my reservations about the accuracy of the characters called the “Watchers”, over all, the film was well done. Personally, the most outstanding performance in the film was Logan Lerman. As young as he is, Logan brought so much grit and authenticity to his tortured character. He is definitely someone to watch out for in future films. Given a saner schedule, I would definitely watch this movie again.

I requested a friend to do a review of the film, and she has done a fantastic job! I do hope that the film blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Favorite Quotes:
Methuselah: He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you only can understand.

Tubal Cain: You stand alone and defy me?

Noah: I’m not alone.

 

Noah Movie Poster
Noah Movie Poster

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)

Everybody knows the biblical story of Noah and his ark: After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the land increasingly became barren along with man’s wickedness. God wants to erase everything He has made – mankind and all the animals—and make a new earth. Good thing Noah found favour in God. So God gives him the task of making an ark and saving a pair of each animal on earth, together with his family. After a hundred years of endlessly working on the ark, the flood comes and everything is swept away. Noah starts mankind’s history anew.
Darren Aronofsky, the director of Noah¸ has successfully shown this in a highly-animated film and more. Russell Crowe (The Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) plays the rough and persevering Noah. In a land where food is scarce and one has to constantly guard against scavengers, he is still able to come across as a warm father-figure who is brave enough to fight in a hand-to-hand combat to save his family. Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, Hulk) brilliantly portrays Noah’s wife Naameh, who resiliently stands by her husband whatever the cost of his decisions. Ray Winstone (The Departed, Hugo) is terrifying as Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed king of man who stops at nothing just to get into Noah’s boat and be saved. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) is also in this film, though a little bit unrecognizable, and surprisingly charming in the lovable character of Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather. One of the highlights of the film is Emma Watson (Harry Potter series), who, despite living in a wasted land, still looks pretty and dainty as ever, playing Ila, the wife of Noah’s first son, Shem.


Brilliant Casting

Russell Crow depicted a very human portrayal of Noah. He is tough because he is hardened by living in an empty and dangerous land. But despite all the cruelty of the world, he is still able to appreciate the beauty that is left: a flower blooming should be left where it is because it is its place; a wounded animal should be treated and not be feasted on; and respect for man even if they are wicked inside and out. But high acting praises for this film goes to Jennifer Connelly, who is deeply moving as Noah’s wife. She understands that she has to be submissive to her husband, but she knows how and when to speak her mind. (Spoiler alert) When she learns that Noah has to kill Ila’s child, she spoke against it and confesses to Noah that it is her who asked for the children. “It was me, Noah! I asked for this!” she cries. She then proceeds to give Noah an ultimatum—she will leave Noah, regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl. Her intensity truly radiates beyond the screen.


An Impressive Ark

This film undoubtedly uses a number of special effects: from the cartoonish way of telling the Adam and Eve story to the physical manifestations of Noah’s dreams. This approach is very effective in getting the message across, though somewhat a little bit base for a serious movie-goer. Setting all the animated effects aside, the rest of the technicalities of the film are amazing. The land is as inhospitable as how one would imagine the ends of the earth. The ark, shaped like a chest (because it’s Latin origin literally means “chest), is the most realistic ark ever. It is humongous and built only for two functions: to save the family and animals, and… to float.

 

Unbiblical storytelling

Some audience are showing concern that the film is “very unbiblical”. This could be discussed because some points of the film indeed are not mentioned in the bible. One of these is the fallen angels or The Watchers. According to Aronofsky, the Watchers’ design is inspired by three images: six-winged Seraphim angels, a seagull trapped in oil, and ballet dancers with blocks attached to their feet. Afronofsky continues on to say that “these are angelic forms captured, malformed, imprisoned by the earth; winged creatures who got encased and had to use their wings as arms and legs.” Source: (IMDB) There is no verse in the bible indicating that the angels had helped Noah build the ark. Perhaps, if angels did help, it wouldn’t have taken Noah 100 years to finish it?

A friend also raised the fact that since Ila had twin daughters and Noah’s two youngest sons are still unmarried, it could be speculated that these two couples might end up together to start the new generation of mankind. The friend expressed disapproval for this scenario and described it as “icky”. Well, if you think about it, mankind did start with Adam and Eve. Of course, mankind had to continue on from their children, and their children… and their children. Do you get the drift?

 

Christian Issues

Noah is certainly not a religious movie—with all the added elements of The Watchers and Ila’s twin girls—but it is a Christian film. This is to say that the film heaved a number of Christian issues taught in services and sermons today. Here are some of the issues raised:

1. God will speak to you in ways you will understand. When Noah seek the counsel of Methuselah regarding his visions, the old man assured his grandson that the Creator only speaks to them in ways they will understand. Pastors often advise Christians to ask God to speak to them—and He does. Of course, God will make sure that He gets the message across. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)

2. Deciding on things without the counsel of God will always have lifelong consequences. Naameh asked Methuselah for help because she wanted her children to have their own wives and children. She did this without asking counsel from the Creator, or from Noah. Methuselah decided to touch Ila’s barren womb and made it fertile. Because of this, her babies became the bane of Noah’s mission – which is to end the course of mankind on earth. He is made to decide to kill these babies – a great consequence of Naameh’s plea to Methuselah. We must always remember to ask counsel from God for everything we do because “he who trusts in his own heart is a fool”. (Proverbs 28:26) Remember that “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” (Proverbs 13: 10)

3. When you ask God to put His desire in your heart instead of your own, you will receive it. Noah is ready to drive the knife into the baby’s heart. He is driven by his mission from the Creator. I am sure that he has prayed about this endlessly, being a friend of God. He has already uttered the words, “It is done”—pertaining to the Creator’s mission for him. But something in him stirs. His heart is wary because his desire has changed. Though he wants to fulfil God’s mission for him, something else has replaced this in his heart. It is God’s mercy—because he has prayed about this. “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27) Christians must also bear in mind that “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Aronofsky ‘s interpretation of Noah’s narrative is riveting and dramatic. It shows the human surface of Noah – he could hear the screams of people drowning outside the ark but he knew he had to remain steadfast to what the Creator had asked him to do. You could imagine the pain in his heart for every cry for help he had to endure. His character is in pain and sometimes anxious – which makes him relatable. Good job on that, Aronofsky. Though the idea of The Watchers is still far from convincing, Jennifer Connelly’s acting could make up for that. Reactions are mixed for the movie Noah, but nevertheless, it is a movie worth taking the time for.

 

 

About the Contributor:
Jihan Estrella is brainstormer for soap programs at GMA Network, Inc. She is currently involved in the primetime shows “My Destiny” and “My BFF”. She is also a social media operations analyst for a Singaporean social media services company.

 

 

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Beautiful in His Eyes – A Happy Panda Shares Her Story

Do you still remember the entry I did on How to Heal a Broken Heart?

Well, guess what? The people I dedicated that entry to are doing well and are on their way to recovery. All through His Grace.

It’s amazing what happened that day. You’ll never really know how He works but He does indeed change lives. He offers the gift of love: A love that is real, full and freeing.

Please make sure to read the full entry from my friend. She has an amazing story to tell: A story of heartbreak, restoration and finally, redemption.

This entry is about her and the many others whose hearts have been broken and have come back, whole and beautiful. You can read her full story here: Darn Beautiful in His Eyes

 

Restoration of Israel

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness And speak kindly to her.”

Hosea 2:14

Through Heaven’s Eyes

During the Holy Week, I was able to catch the movie “Prince of Egypt” on cable.  It’s been awhile since I last saw this film, but it always brought back fond memories.  The film is a wonderful combination of creativity, music and love.

A single thread in a tapestry, though its color brightly shine, can never see its purpose in a pattern of the grand design.

How can you see what your life is worth? Or where your value lies?

You can never see through the eyes of man.

You must look at your life through heaven’s eyes.

Whoah! Did you get that? A single thread in the tapestry of the pattern of the grand design. I am floored. Beautiful.

Aside from watching the movie, I also highly encourage you to see this live version of my favorite song in the film “Through Heaven’s Eyes” sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

He’s absolutely lovely here, especially as he sings with the choir!

Enjoy folks…

And remember to always look at your life through heaven’s eyes 😉

Expecting the Unexpected for Year 2014

Tomorrow I will be leaving with a friend for a hiking trip.

It will be a first for me and I am nervous to the core. I have to admit, I am not much of an “outdoor person”. When I say “outdoor”, I mean camping/hiking/mountain trekking. Though I thrive on biking, running, and swimming; mountain trekking and camping, to put it subtly, is not my cup of tea.

I did camping once in high school and I never did it again. I couldn’t sleep because of the mosquitoes, the uncomfortable little rocks hitting my back when I slept, and the bad food. I remember vividly that we had to cook a crudely opened can of corned beef that was supposed to suffice as dinner! We also had to share a commode which was not exactly the best experience for a cleanliness obsessed young girl. I hated camping and I still secretly do. It brought back memories of aching joints, holding back pee, and morning breath.

But there were other ways of entertaining oneself, and camping, thankfully, was just a shadow of the past (or so I thought). I prefer the leisurely and comfortable way of seeing the world: Hotels, concrete itineraries, warm beds, nice showers, a functioning toilet, creature comforts — things that camping or hiking will never offer.

So why the change of heart? It got me thinking that maybe I am not fully embracing God‘s abundant provisions in my life because I am constantly stopping or limiting myself. To add more to this enlightenment, I got this in my email today – God has no shortage of resources. In terms of receiving God’s provision, I sometimes have to remind myself to expect the unexpected.”

To expect the unexpected. I didn’t like it one bit. Obviously, I am not a fan of surprises. I like routine, structure, plans, and ofcourse, my delicious addiction – a sense of being in control.

Just a little after Christmas, I reminded myself to make a 2014 plan. What I wanted to achieve in the year to come on a per month and per quarter basis (told you I was a freak).When I pulled out my excel sheet, I just stared at it. I didn’t have anything substantial to put in. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have a plan. What is wrong with me? (Must be the chicken from Christmas eve dinner).

Usually, when I do my planning, numbers was a great way to start. Putting in actual figures gave a sense of control, of targets, of something achievable. But now my brain drew blanks.

Don’t get me wrong, the year 2013 was a great year for me. My annual planning was effective, but I didn’t achieve everything to the letter. And the best parts of my year was thanks to the little unexpected surprises that sneaked their way in. Odd isn’t it?

This year, I am going to do something radical. For 2014, it’s going to be different: I will not lead me, the Lord will. I am letting Jesus Christ take the reins from here on. Whatever His will, I will accept it, and be thankful for them regardless of the circumstances. No more of me. This time, this year, He will be in control. The question is: do I have the courage to fully embrace it?

It may be a tall order for an obsessive-compulsive, controlling, neat freak such as myself but with God’s grace, it’s a humble start. I am offering all my plans, hopes and dreams to Him because He promised that if I trust and obey, He will follow through. For this year, I will brazenly challenge that promise. I know the Lord will forgive me for going this extreme in my faith but I don’t think He’ll mind. I am, after all, His child.

And this is in great hopes that my trip will be the first of many adventures to a new and improved Miss Tolentino for 2014.

Have a wonderful New Year everyone! 

Finding Solace on Christmas Day

It’s only a couple of hours before Christmas day, and right now, the house is a complete standstill. Everyone’s in their rooms resting in preparation for tonight’s festivities.

And this is just the opportune time for me to think thoroughly why we are celebrating this occasion. The company of family is heartwarming, parties with friends are good as well, gifts are nice to receive and give. Everything feels good right now. But there are some people I know who will be celebrating alone. Right now, this very instant, alone on Christmas eve.

My friend, this post is for you.You are not alone. You never have been.

Christmas offers many truths, but surely this is one: You are of great worth to God.

Taking these cues, I bring you a prayer and a blessing:

To all who’ve been dismissed or tossed aside;

To all who, made bitter by the cracks in your story, now tremble or seethe at the mention of ”love”;

To every weary-boned parent saddled with regret or loss or despair;

To every child, grown yet still yearning for tenderness and acceptance;

To every one of us who compulsively judge our reflection in the mirror or replay conversations over and over or carry every criticism to a dark, dark place;

To each of us who are ashamed of our fears and our machinations and who hide the fact that in our own sophisticated ways we still have to leave the light on at night.

I pray that you will know, these beautiful days, the profound worth of your soul, the sturdy weight of your being. There is an astounding splendor in you—and I know this because the God of all beauty and power has called you into existence. And God delights in the sheer presence that is you. – Winn Collier

The Lord is closest to the struggling, the empty and especially the broken. Today, rejoice. You are not alone. You don’t have to be. Jesus’ very birth is the reason why those who are in their darkest can find solace and comfort in the fact that He was born to us.

Smile my friend. Our Saviour is born.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a  manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  - Luke 2
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
– Luke 2