“Noah Releasing the Dove” by Marc Chagall
For those not familiar with the Old Testament, this painting is based on Genesis 8:6-12:
“After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.”
This incident is paralleled in the New Testament, at the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1:9-10:
“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”
Climate change skepticism is nothing new. Noah had to contend with it as well.
Searching for some Noah inspired art I came across these images of the Fall on TwitchFilm.com.
Apparently they’re connected to Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky. Here’s the commentary:
“A script Aronofsky was developing a couple years back, Noah is a story that the director describes as an eco-apocalypse – one that uses Biblical themes and ideas as a stepping off point. The movie version never got made but Aronofsky hasn’t put the project aside. Instead he has teamed up with illustrator Nico Enrichon to create a graphic novel version. And the first taste of the graphic novel has just arrived via the promo reel embedded below.”
I find graphic novels are a powerful way of communicating biblical stories, particularly among youth. Something to keep an eye out for I think
In case anyone was wondering, no I wasn’t blogging during Earth Hour last night. That last post was pre-written and pre-programmed to launch while I was otherwise occupied.
What I was actually doing was having a relaxing chat with my wife and elder son by candlelight in our dining area after our younger son went to bed. Very civilized.
My son was old enough to actually appreciate a bit of what was going on this year and I took the opportunity to join some of the dots for him between our actions and our sacred stories. As a four year old, the story of Noah is one he already knows fairly well and we explained, “Just as Noah took care of the animals when they were in danger, we’re doing this to take care of the animals too.” He got the point, we should care for all life. God gave us this beautiful world God to live in – we should respect his gifts.
I made some comments to Sun Warrior earlier this evening that I thought deserved a wider screening.
I have been speaking of heroes in my recent post and I was reminded last night that Noah needs to be remembered as one of many heroes for green Christians. The flood story of Genesis is a story of ecological crisis. Humanity had gotten out of control and all creation beared the consequences. Sound familiar? What did Noah do? Did he stop just with saving his family? No. Did he stop just with saving domestic animals and food crops that were directly useful to humans? Again, no. He sought to save every species including all the wild ones. And when he had saved them, God made a covenant with them all. Not just with Noah but with all the creatures on the Arc. Irrespective of whether you credit this story with any historical authenticity or not, the fact is this is a formative story for Christians, one which we tell our kids, and it clearly expresses concern for wider issues than just God and Humanity. I see the path for us Christians is not to abandon the faith but to recover neglected teachings in this deep heritage of ours.
What reminded me was a talk by Professor Robert Barry Leal at Glebe Café Church entitled, “Is Christianity Green”. Afterwards I paused to consider the irony that the green movement has embraced the symbols from Noah story with a lot more gusto than Christians in recent decades. Do you find it curious that the dove and the rainbow spoken of in Genesis chapter 8 and 9 grace the bow of the Rainbow Warrior at the same time many Christians are dismissive of environmental activism as somewhat pagan? Personally I have always seen the Christian hope and the Green hope as very much intertwined, which goes a lot towards explaining my support of Greenpeace for over a decade now. With the Creator’s care for creation in mind I offer some of the words of Genesis for meditation:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
Whenever you see a rainbow, pause to consider what we are doing to this planet of ours … and other creatures … and God’s. Pause to consider how we can live more like Noah – that ancient greenie who saved many an endangered species.
Interested Aussies will find Barry Leal’s latest book, “Through Ecological Eyes”, being stocked at Kentigern bookstore. Guess what I’m reading now?