Monday, 22 October 2007

Evan Almighty review - a God who's safe to like

Like most of New Zealand, I took some time away from the computer today and spent some quality time with Marie - including a trip to the movies. We saw Evan Almighty.

I'd heard some pretty iffy reviews, but a comedy seemed the best on offer. (Doesn't say much about what's on at the theatre! The Kingdom wasn't on until late tonight... )

We laughed - and also, surprisingly, felt closer to God. Although the film was generic enough to be spiritually acceptable to people of many faiths (although less generic than Bruce Almighty), it also seemed pretty compatible with the mainstream, fairly orthodox (I guess) Christian faith Marie and I call our own.

Some of my favourite moments:
  • God (Morgan Freeman) appearing to Evan's wife Joan as a waiter, with the name tag "Al Mighty" - smart. What he said to her was just inspiring.
  • A smarmy journalist asking Evan (Steve Carrell) cynically why God would call him. Evan's answer: "He's called all of us." Yes!
  • Evan's little shrug of the shoulders as he holds up his staff and the animals board the ark. He says, without words, "Hey, I have no idea how this is happening. I'm just doing what I do - and this stuff happens!"
I was pleasantly surprised by Steve Carrell's acting. As another reviewer commented, he has a gift for doing "frustrated", but he also has a gift for doing very sincere people caught up in circumstances beyond themselves. That's a sentiment we need to see because, a) a lot of us feel the same way, and b) it gives us hope.

Morgan Freeman was great, as he was in Bruce Almighty. He combines seeming omnipotence with homespun friendliness - which I imagine is not an easy task.

On a theological and philosophical level, I'm reminded of the writings of Adrian Plass, particularly his "controversial" statement that "God is nice and he likes us" ... which is somehow better than we could imagine.

It also reminds me of a conversation heard on The God Journey podcast a few weeks ago. The guys were talking about two Gods: the mean God and the nice God. We desire the nice God, but secretly fear the truth is he's the mean God.

From memory, the conversation went something like this:

So this guy, he tells me he's sticking with the mean God, because he's covering his bases. See, if God is actually nice, but I'm following the mean God, the nice God won't mind. But if God is actually mean, and I'm following the nice God - I'm in big trouble!

So I said to him, would the mean God go to the cross for you? Instinctively, without thinking, he said no. What does that tell you about the mean God?

Finally, this reminded me of the best things I enjoyed about A Generous Orthodoxy, as well as the mystic poetry combined with deep Biblical teaching combined with folk and celtic music that is the catalogue of Michael Card.

Always good to be reminded of something I already knew. Marie and I went and talked to God for quite a bit after seeing this comedy. Who'd have thought.

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