Noah Movie: Hollywood Screenwriter Brian Godawa Tackles the Controversy
The debate and discussion in Christian media over the film Noah by Darren Aronofsky has reached fever pitch — and the darn thing hasn’t even come out yet (it comes out this Friday, 3/28). We Christians have a nasty habit of condemning films we haven’t seen or analyzed with educated discernment, and there has been quite a bit of speculation about this epic movie starring Russell Crowe. However, if there’s one person who can bring some clarity and provide some eye-opening “ah hah!” moments about how Christians should approach Noah, it’s author, Hollywood screenwriter, and committed Christian Brian Godawa. He read the script for Noah long before most of us had even heard of the film, and he provides some invaluable insights in this interview.
As a screenwriter, Brian Godawa has worked with Ralph Winters (X-Men, The Wolverine), he has written screenplays for feature films, including To End All Wars starring Kiefer Sutherland — which received a showcase selection at the Cannes Film Festival, and won major awards at the Heartland Film Festival and Santa Barbara Film Festival — and he has won more screenwriting competitions than I knew existed. If all that weren’t enough, he wrote — among other notable things — the classic book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment, which is a tour de force on how to watch movies and decipher the many worldviews that inhabit America’s favorite art form. The book has been universally praised and even used as a textbook in film courses across the country.
However, it is especially his work as an author of fiction that has made him a powerful voice in our culture’s debate about the Noah film. Brian wrote the novel Noah Primeval, a fictional but well-informed retelling of the Biblical account of Noah — and the first book in his epic series Chronicles of the Nephilim. I will be reviewing Noah Primeval for this site, and I can say that it is one of the most richly layered, well-researched novelizations of a Bible story I’ve read. I’m convinced that Brian’s retelling — and the appendices of research that inform it — is the most plausible interpretation of some of the bizarre mysteries in the Bible’s account of Noah, such as the Nephilim.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Brian about the Darren Aronofsky film Noah and how Christians should approach the movie (NOTE: the interview contains some possible spoilers of the film’s treatment of the Noah story):
This morning [on Friday morning, 3/21], The Hollywood Reporter published their review of Noah, and, in my opinion, it confirms that the script you read and reviewed on your blog is the final cut for the film. In your review, you say that it’s not the creative license of Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel that troubles you — in fact you compliment their imagination with some scenes — but it’s the way the film subverts and highjacks the Noah story and really places a meaning in it that is completely alien to what the Bible intended. What themes did you see in Noah that brought you to this conclusion?
I did read that review on The Hollywood Reporter too, and it was interesting to me because there was a guy who was basically agreeing with my analysis of the script and saying that he saw the same elements in the movie, but it seemed to me that he liked that. He wasn’t a negative reviewer trying to attack the movie; it seemed to me like he was a secular guy who wanted the bold and daring subversion of the Noah story.
But I would say that the three important things that I saw in the script — the things that were leading me to that conclusion — were, first of all, Darren Aranosky, before he realized that this would cause problems, was very open about his intent. Years ago he said Noah was the first environmentalist, and he basically expressed that he saw the Noah story as a parable for environmentalism. And in other interviews he expressed that he’s an atheist, and he called himself godless and he said his god was film making. Just seeing that upfront tells me a couple things: that even though he loves the story of Noah he sees it as a mythical story that is used to communicate a viewpoint; and as a secular atheist person, he’s going to reinterpret it through his secular atheist grid. So just knowing that upfront helps us to read his interpretative narrative and understand where he’s coming from. That was the thing that alerted me. So when I read the script I saw some of these elements that kind of stuck out and really reinforced what he said what he was going to do, and I saw very clearly that even though the script had shown the violence and evil of mankind — of course, they’re murdering each other, but part of that evil [as portrayed by Aronofsky] was that they were meat eaters — and Noah was depicted very much like a New Age shaman type. He’s also a warrior, but the way [Aronofsky] was setting up the world was very much a reflection of the modern day environmentalist worldview that basically believes that the world back then was desolate and destroyed, and the implication was that it was man that was doing this. I think it was very clearly communicated throughout the story that man was evil, and they were violent and evil to each other, yes, but the apex of that was they were bad to the earth and cruel to animals and such. So in the story I saw that it was a combination of man’s badness to man but primarily and most importantly [from the script’s point of view] man’s badness to the earth.
The second aspect was the way God was depicted; and, to me, that’s the element that is most up for grabs in terms of needing to see the movie first. I need to see it first to see how he’s depicting God, but that Hollywood Reporter review really hinted at what I suspected was going to be the case. How is God depicted here? Is He depicted as a real being who is interacting with Noah or is Noah’s religious experience more like dreams and personal delusions? In other words, is God being depicted in such a way that you could say, “Well, God really doesn’t have to exist because this could all be Noah’s religious convictions, etc.” And this is what I don’t know yet; so we have to be careful until we see the movie. But nevertheless in the script I saw this element that God could possibly be interpreted as merely the religious experience or even the religious delusions of Noah, and that was a caution to me.
And, thirdly, there was Noah’s moral dilemma when Noah gets on the ark in the middle of the movie. The rest of the movie takes place in the ark. That’s fine. We don’t know what takes place on the ark, the Bible doesn’t tell us, and it’s okay to speculate, and it’s okay to have Noah as a flawed hero. The essence of all good storytelling is that a hero has to have a flaw and that flaw is what they learn and how they grow. Good storytelling has the hero start the movie with a way of seeing the world that we’re sympathetic with, but we soon realize that there’s something not quite right with this way the hero sees the world. The story is his journey of discovering what he needs to be redeemed from; but what I was seeing in the Noah script was this dark unsympathetic version of Noah — and I don’t want to give away the movie, but I think the [spoilers] have already been given away in many places — he’s in the ark, and he’s such an extreme environmentalist that he believes that mankind should not survive, only the animals should survive. So the question he faces is should he murder his grandchildren because humans shouldn’t continue to proliferate. This was an element that I thought would certainly be the logical conclusion of an extreme environmentalist who says, “Maybe we should kill all humanity,” because that’s the direction to which some of them lean. But this [portrayal of Noah] was another aspect of it that really concerned me: Noah is made into a very dark, unsympathetic character [who is] considering murdering his grandchildren. And, from what I know about tent pole pictures, studios, when they make tent pole pictures — the big huge blockbusters where they spend millions of dollars and hope to make huge amounts of money — they usually tend to stress very strong positive sympathetic heroes. They are heroes with flaws [as mentioned above about good storytelling and the importance of flawed heroes], but they’re still sympathetic. And this [Noah] seems so dark to me. There’s a place for dark heroes in movies, but they don’t make a lot of money. So it’s shocking to me that the studio was willing to make this dark version of Noah in a movie that they would hope would make a gazillion dollars by having all the families in the world watch it. So it didn’t seem to jive with the notion that studios want to make a lot of money. Of course, it was completely consistent with Darren Aronofsky’s background. He’s always made dark and unsympathetic heroes. So I think in one sense, to me, it was almost a mistake that the studio didn’t realize because they didn’t understand what they were doing, and they thought, “Oh, we got this great filmmaker who’s got a passion and is a good storyteller,” — and he is, but they went ahead with this guy who has this dark version that doesn’t really connect with, in my mind, what the broader audience would like to see.
So those were the things that really stuck out to me. Of course, there were other elements that I wrote about in my blog critiquing the script, but by and large, to me, this would be a story that is so universal: every religion on the face of the earth, every culture has flood legends and their version of Noah. This is a movie that is a sacred story for several billion people on the earth, and it just struck me as odd that they would have an atheistic filmmaker who would spin this story with his own worldview — his own secular worldview. Why would they do that? Why would they spin the story in a way that’s not conducive to most religious believers?
It almost seems like they admitted their mistake when they changed the description — I saw it in a movie poster or an ad — and instead of saying “adapted from the Bible story” the studio changed it to “inspired by.”
Exactly, they were realizing that if they were to claim that this is really faithful to the Bible, that would really anger a lot of religious believers. And it was angering them! And I think you’re right: they were covering. And I’m okay with that; I think it’s more fair and honest to say “inspired by.” It is showing us that they took a spin on the story that wasn’t as close to what all the religious people would like. And obviously they have the freedom to do that and they have the right to do that, etc. but if you want to make a gazillion dollars on a tent pole movie, it’s odd to me that you would do that. Wouldn’t you want to at least hire someone who is not only good at the craft — that’s essential — but also embraces the sacred story? It’d be more likely that they could retell it in a way that the followers of that story would embrace. They did this with Lord of the Rings, right? Peter Jackson was a lover of Lord of the Rings, and they tried to stay true to it. The Harry Potter movies tried to stay true to that original intent and meaning.
All that being said, it’s important to note though that just because a filmmaker’s an atheist doesn’t mean he can’t tell a good religious story. There have been cases where that’s happened in the past, such as Chariots of Fire, for example. But it doesn’t strike me as being very smart if you want to connect with those audiences. Let’s put it this way: in my mind, it is inescapable that a secular atheistic filmmaker is going to reinterpret through his secular atheistic worldview, and he’s going to spin it in that direction. It’s not to say we can’t learn something from people with opposing views — even atheists — because we can.
It is baffling. You almost feel like Hollywood is out to do it on purpose, but it does just seem like a mistake on the studio’s part. I know their goal is to make money, so it just seems like they didn’t really realize what they were doing. What you said about atheists, I can’t help but think of Ridley Scott and the new movie Exodus. [Scott is retelling the Biblical story of Moses and the Exodus which is due to release at the end of 2014]. And he had a funny quote in the New York Times where he sort of defended the fact that he, an atheist, is telling a Biblical story. He said: “I’m an atheist, which is actually good, because I’ve got to convince myself the story works.” I thought his sense of humor about it was refreshing compared to this whole Aronofsky controversy.
But let’s jump back for a moment to the issue of environmentalism. As I’ve researched the controversy surrounding this movie, it has been startling because I don’t think a lot of us are aware of the dark side of environmentalism. And, as you’ve noted on one of your blog posts about the Noah film, there is a dark side that advocates the extinction of the human race in order to preserve the environment. I’ve seen this movement range from polite non-aggressive groups like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement to people like the Finnish ecologist Pentti Linkola who actually wants there to be worldwide mass-murder organized by a central government. Do you think this Noah film promotes this dark side of environmentalism and, if so, should we boycott it, or should we still engage with culture about the film?
In answer to the first question [does Noah support that dark side of environmentalism], I don’t know. Again, I haven’t seen the film, so please be careful to keep that context. I think one of the biggest problems is Christians are always criticized for attacking or criticizing movies they haven’t seen, and that’s a legitimate criticism. However, the buzz about the movie has raised these issues, so it’s okay for us to talk about the issues, but whether or not the movie supports that I can’t say. My concern was that the script definitely was trafficking within the typical mainstream environmentalist thought of today. So Aronofsky has clearly been influenced by mainstream environmentalism. How far does that go? I can’t tell until I see the movie. But let’s just put it this way, I think environmentalism today is not really about being good stewards of the environment. Christians and Jews and Muslims — perhaps more Christians and Jews than Muslims — care about the environment, we don’t want to pollute the world, everyone wants to be responsible. But environmentalism has actually become more of an anti-capitalist, anti-American agenda and anti-First World agenda, and it has basically manipulated laws all around the world and manipulated governments to pass laws that are actually hurting economies, increasing poverty, killing poor people — for instance in Africa the inability to get hydroelectric dams has kept many poor people in poverty because they’re still cooking their food over burning dung, which is killing them. So people need to understand how environmentalism hurts economies, which ends up hurting people and hurting the poor. Bjorn Lomborg has written about this in Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming where — even though he believes in global warming — he makes the point that in all of this political agenda behind environmentalism there is actually extremism that is absurd, doesn’t really help the issue at all, and ends up hurting millions and millions of poor people around the world; and he’s basically asking do we care about the poor or not?
So I do think the environmentalism of today is heavily influenced by these negative anti-human beliefs, and they’re pushing in that direction of anti-capitalist, anti-American sentiments. So, consequently, I think it’s dangerous to traffic in that area because people don’t understand the differences and the nuances. And yeah there are extremist environmentalists — many of them — who do hate humanity. And I think the environmentalism of today is driven by a contempt for humanity, meaning it rejects the notion — and I would say even mainstream environmentalism — it rejects the notion that mankind is the pinnacle of Creation. And this is why this is so important, this Noah story, because the essence of the Noah story is the Bible, and the Bible definitely communicates that man is the pinnacle of Creation, and man is responsible over Creation. But man’s been given dominion to subdue and rule Creation. In other words, if Creation was left to itself it would end up being chaotic and destructive, and mankind, using technology, can harness nature for the good of mankind. That’s what’s going on in the Bible story. But to take an environmental spin on that is to negate man’s high position over nature and to place man in subordination to nature. Man becomes a servant of nature rather than nature a servant of man. That’s where I believe that the flip — the dangerous flip — is a philosophical flip that people may not be aware of on the surface. They may just see it and think, “oh yeah we should care about the earth and be good stewards, right?” No, there’s something more to it than that. It’s leading towards the idea of making man a servant of the earth as if the earth were some kind of superior being or superior consciousness over man. These are the influences. Are those influences in Noah? I can’t say; I haven’t seen the movie. But that’s what the heart of environmentalism is today. I think if Noah ends up reinforcing that environmental paradigm within the sacred story of Noah, it’s contributing towards that influence.
In your book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment — which I’m really enjoying reading right now [and will be reviewing later this week] — I appreciate how you encourage us to keep these kinds of things in mind as we go into the movie theater and, using critical thinking, discern the content and the worldview of the film before we pass any judgments. But you’re right, we do have to be careful because the environmental movement does seem to be almost like a war on the image of God or, more accurately, the “denial of the image of God in man” as you put it in your critique of the Noah script.
Exactly! That was my big argument. And yet the Bible story is all about the image of God in man. And that’s the danger [of environmentalism’s denial of this Biblical view]. Now, to answer the second part of your question about boycotting the film. Do I think we should boycott? No, not necessarily. I do think there’s a place for those who don’t want to give their money to Hollywood because the story is promoting an unbiblical worldview from their viewpoint, and they don’t want to give money because it will encourage them to make more. I appreciate that, and if that’s how people feel, that’s fine. I don’t argue against that.
But I also feel that there’s value in some of us seeing this movie so that we can intelligently engage the culture, and I think part of that is recognizing that no movie is all bad or all good. I believe there will be some very positive aspects to the movie Noah that can make the Bible story come alive to us, like seeing the flood done with real special effects that make it more real than we’ve ever seen before. That’s a helpful thing. There might be some other good things about faith in God and — who knows — but we need to be open to those things and be willing to acknowledge them to people. Acknowledge the good first, and then that becomes a platform for us to say, “Here’s what I didn’t like about the movie,” or “Here’s where I disagree.” So all these arguments that are going on right now — about how unbiblical the details are in the movie — are somewhat problematic because on the one hand, there is not very much about Noah in the Bible, so you have to make up a lot of the stuff [if you’re retelling it in a movie or book]. And there’s nothing wrong with changing details, everyone does it, and I have a blog post coming out soon [click here to keep up with Brian’s latest blog posts] that argues that even the Bible changes certain historical things in order to make a point. So there’s nothing wrong with the fact that there are some things that aren’t in the Bible or that the details aren’t perfectly in alignment with the Bible. However, all those details can add up to point in a different direction, so what’s more important to me is not the details, but where the details end up pointing: the worldview. So the real important thing to ask is, “What’s the theme or what’s the meaning of the story that’s being communicated here?” That is communicated through details, and it’s possible that all these details add up to a very different meaning than what we understand the Bible story to be. And that’s where we should come in as Christians and engage and say, “Well look, here’s what I liked about the movie, but here’s where I didn’t agree with it.” Maybe you don’t agree with the meaning of [Noah], and if that’s the case then communicate that and point people back to the Bible — and I think that’s a good thing. I think people will go back and read the original story to try to find out what the Bible actually says, and that could be a very positive thing. So I think we should engage. Some of us should see the movie.
But on the other hand, look, if the movie is really good — even if it is anti-biblical — it could still do really well. A lot of movies like that do really well. The Da Vinci Code was anti-Christian but it did a gazillion dollars, right? Because it was done really well. I think the same is true here. If Noah is done well — even if Christians boycott it — the boycott is not going to affect it. However, if it’s not good and it’s too dark, and it doesn’t appeal to the broad base of the mainstream and it doesn’t do well, you can’t blame Christians and say, “Oh you guys trash talked it and hurt the movie” — boycotting is not going to hurt the movie. The movie is only going to hurt itself or help itself based on how well it’s done. If we don’t see the movie and we talk about it and criticize it, people aren’t going to respect us. So if you want to talk about the movie in an intelligent way, then consider going to see the movie; and, you know what, I would even recommend that you consider Darren Aronofsky’s atheistic viewpoint even if you disagree with it. He might have some insights [about Noah] that you didn’t see before. Again, as Christians, we don’t want to be ignorant people who say that no one else can say anything true about the Bible or about anything in general. There could be something we could learn, right? That’s where I want to be. I want to engage, but I also don’t want to be these Christians that are what I call “cultural gluttons” where they consume all of the Hollywood movies and television and just try to find all the good in it and don’t recognize that there are other viewpoints that Hollywood is communicating and values that are not your own. You need to be able to discern what those are so you can protect yourself against them and also communicate to others where you see the world differently.
That’s a really great point. In my articles, I’ve tried to show respect for Darren Aronofsky because I do try to remember that he is also made in the image of God and even if he’s an atheist, God has given him some amazing talents, and a lot of times in these movies made by atheists or people hostile to the faith, I still see some good — even spiritually edifying — things leak into their art whether they intended it to or not; so I liked what you said about when you talk with someone about a movie, start with something good to say about it and just show respect for the art itself and all the hard work — it’s so much work to do these movies. In evangelism, there’s a technique called active listening where you don’t shove the Gospel down their throats but just to listen and genuinely hear and consider what they have to say before you say anything about your beliefs.
Absolutely! Let me give you an example. Even Christians can understand the Bible incorrectly. So if we listen to other people’s views of Noah we might learn something ourselves. For example, how many of us have been infected by this view of Noah and the ark that we got from Sunday school, which is this old bearded man with his cute animals. [laughs] We’ve all been infected by that, but the reality is this: the Bible doesn’t say what Noah did before the Flood; it only says what he did after — he became a farmer after the Flood. But before the Flood, if the world was really as evil as it was, I suspect that Noah would have been a warrior in order to survive. So this picture of Noah being a more complex character in the Noah film where he is more serious and able to fight — you know what? — I think that is good because it might be more accurate in the direction of the Bible because maybe our Sunday school pictures are wrong. If we listen and open up, we might learn a thing or two about where we have been wrong.
However, the most important thing is the meaning of the story and discerning the meaning of the story — and that’s where you have to watch the movie intelligently. Recognize that even if there are good elements, if the story is pointing in the direction that is different than the Biblical God as you know Him, then speak up! Speak the truth in love! I plan to.
I wanted to end the interview with one final topic: your series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim. I’ve been reading Noah Primeval, and it’s just amazing. The level of research has been mind-blowing for me. It reminds me of a very well researched book that captures the spirit of that world and that time; it reminds me of Ann Rice’s Christ the Lord series — I don’t know if you’ve read that?
Oh wow, no I haven’t, but that is quite a compliment, I appreciate that.
Yeah, you know, Ann Rice is always known for her crazy research that she does [laughs]. But my question is, because you really are an expert on Noah, if a moviegoer sat down with you over coffee after seeing the movie — someone who is not a Christian and who has never read the Bible — and asked you how the Bible’s account differs from the movie, based on what you’ve written in your novel Noah Primeval what would be the most important things for them to know about the Bible’s account?
First of all, if I can just say — my novel series starting with Noah and going on to six other volumes — that’s obviously one of the main reasons why I’ve gotten so caught up in this controversy because I have a website that deals with all things Noah and a blog that people follow about movies, and I’ve been writing this series like you said and I’ve done the research, so it makes sense that I was very interested in the topic to write my critique of it; so that’s how I got my hearing in this whole controversial debate. And what’s interesting too is that, as you may have already noticed, even in my critique I do not criticize Aronofsky for the fantasy elements that he added and the things that are different from the Bible because in my novel Noah Primeval I have a lot of fantasy in there. My purpose there is to write a theological novel not a historical novel, so right up front I already accept that a different genre of storytelling can be applied even to the Bible; and I’m not against changing things, though, you know, I try to stay consistent with the Bible, of course; but I filled in a lot of gaps with a lot of made up stuff, a lot of speculation and all that. So one thing that I want Christians to appreciate is the issue of hyper-literalism: it can be very destructive to the faith because the Bible uses a lot of imagination too, and so if we tend to be hyper-literalists, we’re really more like atheists than we realize because hyper-literalism is this notion that comes from the Enlightenment and from modernity that reduces everything to its empirical observations and rationality and tends to not appreciate the imagination. I think we as Christians need to appreciate the imagination more, which is one of the reasons I wrote the novel.
Where I differ from Aronofsky is, because of my Christian worldview, I admit I am trying to stay true — even though I am changing things and making some things up that weren’t in the Bible — I am seeking to remain true to the thematic or theological meaning of the original story. [This theological meaning] is what I would want to communicate to people who aren’t Christian believers but are interested in the Noah story and curious about it. To them I would want to say: look, the heart and essence of the Noah story is very relevant for today. And that is this: God created mankind in His image. God gave us the authority over the earth to do the right thing. And what that means is authority not just over the environment but authority over all of Creation and man is the apex of that Creation. And as we are created in the image of God, so we have also sinned and fallen from that image. And the heart of the Noah story is basically man has fallen and destroyed God’s image. We treat mankind, other human beings, with less than the dignity they deserve. I mean just look at the Ten Commandments and compare that to the way we live our lives — murder, rape, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery — all this kind of stuff. It shows that we tend to think we’re good people but if we’re really honest and we face that reality, we’re not. If we compare ourselves with the Law of God, we realize we have not measured up to the standard of the image of God as shown in the Ten Commandments. When we face that reality, we realize we think we’re good, but we’re really not. We finally realize how bad we are and how deserving of God’s judgment we are; and the Noah story shows that truth — it shows that God is just. If He is destroying the earth, it’s because we’re that bad that we deserve it. But at the same time, God saves eight people in the ark and the ark becomes the vessel that redeems them through the Flood. God chooses Noah to bring about the very line of the Messiah. Noah is in the lineage of Jesus the Messiah, and ultimately Jesus Christ is depicted in the New Testament as our ark who saves us from our sins. The idea there is that just like they deserved it back in that day, we deserve it now, so how much more important is it for us to recognize that the God who created us, we’re responsible to that God, and He is going to judge us according to His Ten Commandments. We are guilty, but there is redemption, there is hope, there is mercy if we have faith in Jesus Christ. He will bring us through it and He will save us from that judgment, and we will be redeemed. And that’s the heart of the message of my Noah story — at least I’m pointing in the direction of the Messiah, because, obviously, Jesus hasn’t come yet. My idea here is that it’s all about God and man’s relationship with God, and that’s the key element — man being created in the image of God and what that means.
In your novel series — and I can’t wait to read the other ones — you tackle Enoch, Joshua, Caleb, Abraham, Jesus, to name a few, and I mean, it’s just awesome. You got six other novels besides the Noah one and an eighth book just for all your appendices of research. I hope you’ve been taking vacations to rest from all that [laughs] because that’s pretty wild. But as I have been reading Noah Primeval, my mind keeps going back to the Book of Revelation and how Jesus taught that the end times before He returns would be like the days of Noah. This is perhaps uninformed speculation on my part, but I wonder if the end times will see fallen angels interacting with humans like they were doing in Noah’s time? As creepy as it sounds, while doing apologetics research I’ve come across occult groups who claim that so-called enlightened beings have been appearing and interacting with certain people for the purpose of guiding the human race. It’s weird, whacky stuff, but it sounds an awful lot like the demonic deception during Noah’s days. I couldn’t help but think: will the next book in your Chronicles of the Nephilim series be about one final showdown with the Watchers during the end-time events of Revelation? [laughs]
[laughs] Well, two things about that. First, actually there is relevance for that today because Jesus does say “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man,” but the main import of what Jesus was saying there is, in my opinion, I believe He was not talking about there being Nephilim, things like that, with giants and everything, like there were in the past. If you look at what He said, in the same way that people thought that life was normal and life was good, and they just went on and lived their lives and all the sudden — bam! — they were dead and faced the judgment of God, and that’s how people are today.
So more like people will ignore God until it’s too late like they did in Noah’s day.
Yeah, and I think that’s the heart of it. And I think the second element is this: there is a big growing movement of Christians who believe the interpretation of the end times is that the giants will come back again, and I’m not in that camp. I know guys in that camp whom I love and respect, and it’s an interpretation. I don’t personally believe that there’s going to be Nephilim cloned and the Watchers coming back and all that. However, by the time [the Chronicles of the Nephilim novel series] gets to Jesus, I think it will all make sense theologically where my view ultimately comes down. But I have commonality with those guys in that I believe there is more reality to it in the past than people want to give it — you know the idea of giants in the past and Nephilim and the Watchers and the fallen angels mating with human beings — I believe that did happen, but how that unfolds in the future I have a different view. I still respect them, but I have a different view. But, no matter what view you have of the end times, my book series can be still be understood theologically. It’s not connected to any end times view. So you’ll enjoy it no matter what you think of the end of the world.
That’s awesome, and I think that’s a good move too because it’s so easy to get bogged down in the end times debates. And, actually, I didn’t even know there was a camp of people who had an official position about [the Nephilim and the fallen angels appearing in the end times again to interact with humans like the days of Noah]. I thought I had just come up with that idea on my own! [laughs] I didn’t know people had an official end times position on that already.
[laughs] Oh gosh yeah, it’s really becoming a hot topic in the end times crowd. But I’m not really into all that anyway — the typical Left Behind scenario with the antichrist, and the Rapture’s going to happen, and the mark of the beast thing — I am of the school of thought that I think all that stuff took place in the first century, actually. So what people are projecting as happening in the future with the antichrist and all that, I think they misunderstand the meaning of the prophecies that had to do with the first coming of Christ and His judgment on Jerusalem and the temple. But that gets off into a topic that you probably don’t want to go into, so let’s just put it this way: I have a different view of the end times than they do, and even though they are my brothers, I don’t particularly agree with that. So chances are I won’t [write another novel about the end times]. However, if my series does really well, I might just make up something in the modern day present just for fun — I mean, hey, it’s imagination and fiction, ultimately — but if the series does well, I might try to continue it.
Well, based on what I’ve read of your series so far, Book Nine would be a great read, I’m sure, with whatever topic you would choose, but it’s just great that there’s a common ground that we can all enjoy in your books regardless of our end times views.
To learn more about Brian Godawa as a screenwriter, script doctor, author, speaker, and blogger, visit his website at www.godawa.com. You can learn more about the Chronicles of Nephilim here — including trailers and info about each book. In addition to his book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment, he wrote another non-fiction book called Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination, an amazing book that tackles the following (as posted on his site):
“In his refreshing and challenging book, Godawa helps you break free from the spiritual suffocation of heady faith. Without negating the importance of reason and doctrine, Godawa challenges you to move from understanding the Bible ‘literally’ to ‘literarily’ by exploring the poetry, parables and metaphors found in God’s Word. Weaving historical insight, pop culture and personal narrative throughout, Godawa reveals the importance God places on imagination and creativity in the Scriptures, and provides a biblical foundation for Christians to pursue image, beauty, wonder and mystery in their faith.
“For any Christian who wants to learn how to communicate and defend the Gospel in a postmodern context, this book will help you find a path between the two extremes of intellectualized faith and anti-intellectual faith by recovering a biblical balance between intellect and imagination.”