“Exodus: Gods and Kings,” Christian Bale & the Moses you don’t Want to Know

Gods and Kings movie

 

Sometimes, it’s just embarrassing to be a Christian…

-like when all the Christian idiots are already dissing the new film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” based on comments by Christian Bale about his presumed knowledge of Moses’ mental health.

Then, in another interview, Director Ridley Scott dropped an F bomb describing the parting of the Red Sea cinematography.

Well, that won’t do much for the Christian faithful either.

I’m not surprised.  It happened with all the idiot rambling about Noah (see my Speaking of Noah under related posts) and it’s going to happen again and again in regard to the newest epic about Moses to be released  December 12, 2014.

Every day lay-folk, pastors and presumed experts are already offering popular commentary on Exodus texts and traditions based on their white evangelical protestant perspective and not from out of the cultural milieu of the text and tradition itself.

It seems not only was Noah everyone’s best buddy (despite not really talking in his story), but Moses is a close second.  We KNOW him, practically in the biblical sense.

And God forbid we take some creative license and liberty where the Bible leaves some gaping holes, cause you know, the Bible includes every detail of every event in all of history and is the MOST entertaining book in the world…all biblical authors being equally good story tellers and writers.

I mean, there’s nothing more captivating than the brilliant writing in the Bible.  Take the Gospel of John, for instance, where we get the powerful descriptions of Jesus’ inner turmoil over an unfaithful city as it turns its back on God.  We are stirred to our emotional core when we read, “Jesus Wept.”

I mean, that is Pulitzer material right there.

Even Better is this famous Genesis passage, “In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth…” Whoa.  That is powerful writing.  I’ve read science books more poetic and descriptive than that.

We treat these biblical events and figures as if they are stagnant fixtures in a dynamic text and we remove their humanity for the sake of our piety, propping them up as idols rather than seeing them for what most of them really are: humans trying to make sense of the world and follow a calling from a transcendent other into places no one had presumably gone before.

How full of ourselves are we and what imaginary la la land do we think these biblical characters lived in?

We are so much better than them, right?  Because without reluctance we’d totally jump on the prospect of Moses’ calling with anticipation and not possess even a smidgen of self doubt, anger, fear nor can we imagine that a human being so holy would possess any negative personality traits…especially in a guy so even tempered that not even GOD would let him in the Promised Land!

Or so the Bible literally tells us.

OMG People, get real.  You protest too much already and my head is about to explode…AND this movie is still 8 weeks from release.  I’m gonna need a valium.

And let’s not forget the whole Moses gets pissy and breaks the 10 commandments thing, because Moses was perfect and never experienced rage.  But on that we give him a pass because God’s man is allowed to do whatever the hell he wants…you know, because he’s God’s man.

Can all of you who need a sanitized version of Moses please give us the Bible back?  You are clearly not reading it well and making all the rest of us who happen to think its inspired look like a bunch of idiots.

And time would have me be remiss of the epic Maury Povich Show that is almost the entire Book of Genesis.  I mean good grief; these people are messed up and if ANY of us had written the Bible we would have cleaned up all the messy nasty details that make the bible inspired.

The whole Brother killing brother (Cain and Abel), Noah getting drunk AFTER God saves him? WTH??, Jacob STEALING his brothers birth right and God apparently dismissing that sleight of hand and blessing Jacob anyway!!! Huh?!, Abraham sleeping with a servant only to kick her out of his house and even Lot sleeping with his daughters after Sodom and Gomorrah is destroyed (Did they really think there were no other humans anywhere to sleep with?).

There is more trickery, deceit and unholy behavior by “Gods” people in Genesis than we care to believe!

I’m glad we didn’t write the bible because pious Christians would have made all the “biblical hero’s” robots and edited out their humanity.  Thank God the Hebrew’s were not Puritans or incarnations of how an American Jesus after the advent of the Great Awakening would live.

I digress.  Back to Exodus: God’s and Kings and Christian Bale’s  “slamming” comments.

What did Christian Bale and Ridley Scott say that is inciting the protectors of the one holy faith?  In this post, I’ll tackle Bale.  Ridley Scott and his directorial deviations I’ll address this weekend.

First, Bale, in an attempt to position himself as a critic and actor in a recent interview, said that Moses was “barbaric” and “schizophrenic.”  Trouble is Bale plays the character of Moses…so Bale is essentially calling his character mentally unstable and uncouth.  Neither of which can be fully ascertained historically with any medical specificity.

Can I just say this?

Let’s not take Bale so seriously.  Have you ever heard him speak in an interview?  He only sounds smart because he has an accent.  He’s not really smart.  And he is prone to verbal outbursts.  YouTube/Google his Terminator outburst caught anonymously on mic and you’ll see what I mean.

The word schizophrenic is overused in our culture.  Everyone who knows nothing about psychology but thinks they know psychology uses this term wrongly in order to sound smart, but really its making most people that use it just sound dumb.

This is a buzz word that grabs attention, especially when said about a divine biblical figure.

Could Moses have been schizophrenic?

Well, who knows?  We do not have access to his mental state, but I would not doubt he had delusions or was prone to them given the monumental tasks set before him.  And if we take the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness seriously, I’m sure everyone was seeing an Oasis from time to time.

Have you ever been into the Sinai Desert?  It’s basically a giant death trap with a lot of sand, a lot of rocks and not much else.

Not sure that being lost in this death trap would make a person schizophrenic, but one can certainly understand why Moses is prone to angry outbursts and a whole host of other unseemly human behavior that is, and is not, recorded in the Bible.

Did Bale overstate the character of Moses?  Maybe.  Maybe not, but if he’s like other biblical characters I’d say there’s more unsanctified behavior in Moses than we care to admit.

And let’s not even talk about the hierarchical, patriarchal and Levitical priorities Moses seems to affirm and help establish in the Pentateuchal tradition.  He was such a swell guy by modern standards.

Plus, Bale is trying to create Buzz.  He has a movie to promote and a blogosphere (ehem) to fill up.  And it worked. The only thing he could have said to create more buzz was accuse Moses of being a bi-sexual that was tempted with bestiality…since you know, the two go hand in hand.

Moving right along, Bale also commented that Moses was “Barbaric.”

Ok, that just sounds bad.  It sounds bad because we are modern people.  It’s an easy label to use.  But by our standards today most ancient people would probably seem barbaric, from the way they live, to how they killed food, treated one another, and engaged their enemies.  But contextually, that’s just how it was.  Go do some homework folks.  Barbarism is relative to context.

But if you call killing an Egyptian out of anger domesticated, go right ahead and give Moses that pass.

I happen to think that murder is and always will be barbaric.

And let’s not mention that Moses curses the land in order to punish Pharaoh and kill all the newborns that were not Hebrews as a final plague, because you know, it’s totally Christian and not barbaric to desire that innocent children of the enemy should just have their heart stopped by the Angel of death.

Blame it on God, Blame it on Moses, or Blame it on Pharaoh for the collusion of God and Moses in this atrocious scene.  Regardless, it’ still barbaric and your Christian eyes on God’s perfection allow you to see nothing abnormal in a deity being so petty as to kill a human.  As if it was ever any contest?  Really?

So Nothing Barbaric here…moving right along, because God did it, I believe it, He’s God, I’m not, and that settles it and God’s not barbaric.  Another small caveat: Moses doesn’t even show an ounce of compassion for the children that will die.   BUT, he’s a stand up guy.

I can definitely see Jesus in heaven waving his pom poms as the lead cheerleader of this event.

Holiness unto the Lord is our watchword and Song even if it means we collude with sanctified barbarism to make a point.

I guess the same Christians that think this is a good thing would also be the first to push the nuclear button that would obliterate the Middle East, since God uses violence in non barbaric ways against people that don’t follow HIM.

Funny how for those of us who believe in God everything is permissible, even the things we think are abhorrent we excuse in the name of our faith.

So was Moses Barbaric?

For many of us, probably so.  Go read all of Exodus and Numbers and you tell me if Moses was Mother Theresa, but I’m not going do all that homework for you since you obviously know Moses better than even the historians and editors who wrote about him in the Bible.

Perhaps eventually we can free ourselves from our own ideas enough to actually see these characters for who they really are: flawed but holy.  Communicators of a divine word, but not embodiments of it at every turn.

So were Bale’s comments baseless and ill-spoken.  Somewhat.  The lack of nuance certainly shows he’s not an intellectual giant.  But he at least brings up the topic of the humanity of Moses rather than the idol that he and a myriad of other biblical characters have become for those of us that think Christianity and religion is about saving us from out of ourselves, rather than freeing us to be ourselves in the first place.

I’m just glad Bale didn’t comment on the humanity of Jesus.

*Part Two on Ridley Scott’s comments coming soon

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