Finding Noah – A Documentary about Discovery

The documentary, “Finding Noah: An Adventure of Faith” aired as a special event in theaters in October. You may be thinking, “You know what (in an English accent), documentaries are just not my cup of tea.” To which I would say, “Hey friend, this isn’t your local café; this is the film review section! Besides, don’t think about it as tea; think about it as that nice, refreshing chocolate beverage from your childhood that you forgot you liked, so you decided to buy a whole case of it.”

My point is, sometimes documentaries have this uncanny ability to unlock the childlike, imaginative, explorative spirit within you. Yes, there is the entertainment value — at times documentaries such as this one feel a lot more like reality TV than an educational piece, and when I say reality I mean totally scripted. Despite producers trying to force a linear narrative on a medium that is not really conducive to the same type of story-telling as a movie, which encompasses a beginning, middle, and end, I find that there is much more to admire about “Finding Noah” than to scrutinize.

 

It’s not “really” about the destination

You know the saying: “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.” As cliché as it is, the adage holds true for “Finding Noah,” and it is a theme that runs throughout the film. Experts from numerous fields — including archeologists, geologists, forensic architects, radar technicians, climbing specialists and even a few pastors and missionaries — all come together in search of the Ark that God used to save humanity as described in the biblical account of Genesis. People have searched for the lost Ark for years and for good reasons as reports and evidence about both the Ark and the global flood have been found throughout all of recorded history and across cultures and civilizations. If nothing else, you will most definitely learn some new information about the science and study of the Flood as a historical account.

Now as important a discovery as the Ark would be, those searching for it often stress that the priority is just as much in the journey as it is in the destination. The people on the excavation team are on their own personal journeys, both as it relates to the Ark and to their relationship with God. Being a part of this particular investigational journey is powerful and meaningful to each member in his own way. This is the film’s greatest strength and weakness. As a believer, I am inspired by the personal testimonies of the team members. But skeptics will certainly feel ostracized and unconvinced.

Nevertheless, members are poignant in their reflections of the whole experience. Many express the idea that maybe the Ark will never be found, maybe it is not there to be found, and maybe God does not even want it to be found, but this does not change the truth that it should be searched for. The message is clear: God is pleased when we take steps of faith on a journey bigger than ourselves even if it does not lead us exactly where we originally thought — as long as it leads us to Him.

 

What’s in a name?

I always have this peculiar intrigue with the titles of a project. Why did they decide on that name? Initially, I find myself dissatisfied. After all, Noah is not the main character (except in the controversial Noah [2014] that plainly put a mythical Noah as the central protagonist) from the biblical narrative — God is. Plus, we are not actually looking for Noah the person; we are looking for the Ark, the really big boat. I do not have enough character spaces to fully delve into this name thing, but I will say this: I think the idea of “finding” is theologically beautiful. God says that if we search for Him we will find Him. Jesus tells us that He will search for us like a lost coin or a lost sheep or a lost child. The impetus is all in the “–ing” of finding. It is not find: a task or command. It is not found: already done. It is finding: about the present and continuing on. So it speaks of a whole journey again. It is about a process. We never really arrive in this life. We never really grow up. Hopefully, we never stop growing. And hopefully, we never stop desiring of our finding of God and His awesome, inspiring love. Either that or they just swiped the name from “Finding Nemo” (2003). I will let you decide.

 

Finley is a freelance writer and doctoral student at SEU. He can be reached at: fwwalker@liberty.edu

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