Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ezekiel, Eric and I - a brief History of...

Joe and I went to the cinema last night. It was a three way toss up between “Marley and Me” (I’d read the book – I am never sure about watching films based on books that I have read. They never seem to match up to my imagination and I end up disappointed.), “Duplicity” (which was the subtitled version – I’m not sure about subtitles either. I am not a fast reader. OK so the subtitles are there for people who have hearing difficulties, but that won’t stop me trying to read them!) and “Knowing” (the critics didn’t think much of it, action packed perhaps, but leave-your-brain-at-home fare.) We settled for “Knowing” knowing that we don’t always agree with the critics anyway.

Action packed it was. There were some superb special effects. I won’t be giving much away of I tell you it is all about deciphering a pager of numbers, and linking the numbers to various disasters. There are three numbers left to go and it is left to Nicholas Cage to save the world.

The film has a website and a comments feature where people post their views and opinions. It was a film that was very open to Christian interpretation in some aspects. There are a bunch of strange people in the film that basically stand at the edge of the woods and stare at people. They wear black coats and “whisper” things in the ears of children. Later on in the film they take shed their “human disguise” and what you see I suppose depends on where you are coming from. Aliens or angels? They had wings.

There is a scene earlier in the film where the hero and his female companion find a page from a Bible. It contains a lithograph of Ezekiel’s vision. Not the valley to dry bones, but the one at the beginning of the book – his vision of the heavens – wheels within wheels and flying beasts.

Way back in the 1970s I confess to having read and soaked up Eric Von Daniken’s book “The Chariot of the Gods”. His premise was that Earth had been visited and probably populated by aliens. His evidence, taken from the stuff of cave paintings and drawing scratched onto rocks on Easter Island, et al, seemed to my young fifteen or sixteen year old mind, to prove that he was right! (At the time I was wavering between becoming a Mormon because I was a Donny Osmond fan or embracing some kind of atheism/agnosticism based on a vague disappointment with the Roman Catholic church). I remember waving the book before my RE teacher and saying “See, God has been proved to be an alien from space!” (I don’t think kids today actually read much, so no one has waved any books at me and said, “See God has been proved to be…this, that or the other.”)

I have to admit that I can’t read the chapters of Ezekiel’s visions of heaven without thinking about Von Daniken’s alien space-craft explanation. I have probably seen too many Sci-Fi programmes to “de-programme” my brain.

I was thinking last night how sometimes knowing too much can be a disadvantage when it comes to embracing Christian truth. Knowledge – a certain kind of knowledge – can sometimes get in the way of a straight and simple answer. When you have studied textual analysis as a part of a Theology degree, there is a pile of knowledge that sometimes you just have to shift to one side, to reach a response. Sometimes the knowledge helps to reach a better understanding, but often what you pick up is someone’s commentary that isn’t free from bias and prejudice.

How essential it is to listen to what the Spirit says and be prepared to lay aside preconceptions.

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