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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Short Movie Review: The Life of Pi


Ang Lee's popular movie, The Life of Pi, is popular for a reason.  (See: SparkNotes: Life of Pi).  It is yet another promotion of irrationalism as "truth".  The perennial question through the ages is the same,  "What is truth?"  Unfortunately, the answer according to this story is that truth is what you want it to be.  After a long struggle with many religions, the protagonist in the story, Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi), tries and becomes a follower of three major religions at the same time, namely Hinduism, Roman Catholicism, and Islam.   Of course, the fact that all three religions are mutually exclusive of the other two is no problem for Pi.

At the dinner table one evening during a debate with his older brother, Ravi, about his choice of religions, the father intervenes and argues cogently that rationality matters in religious doctrine:  one cannot claim to follow three religions since to believe in all three at once is to believe nothing.  Of course, the writer of the original novel intends for the audience to take this critique by Pi's father negatively.  The mother, the more irrational and emotional one, argues to let the boy decide for himself since he is still finding his way.

The novel is basically a morality tale espousing the virtues of irrationality, shades of gray, and moral relativism.  Postmodernism almost always appeals to the emotions rather than to the rational intellect, No matter that the law of contradiction is violated many times over in the narrative.

For those Van Tilians who love to spout off about how truth is two-fold perhaps this is a great movie.  After all, we are only creatures and we are not the Creator.  Truth from below is always imperfect and analogical.  What is truth?  (Cf.  John 18:38).  Existentialism, irrationalism, and neo-orthodoxy all have in common the idea that religion is an opiate of the people which helps to alleviate the sufferings of this life.  Religious dogma, however, is not the truth itself but merely an analogy or allegory of the truth.  Scripture for the Van Tilian is true but truth becomes something that is in the end undefinable and ambiguous.  If truth is merely "inspired myth" as the Van Tilians contend, then the end result is a deterioration of the distinction between different religions:


Since Pi marries The Writer’s preference for the Tiger story with the line, “and so it goes with God,” it’s hard to separate the question entirely from theology. Evidenced by his multi-religion background, Pi does not believe that any of the world’s religions are a one-stop shop for the truth of God – and his goal is not to convert anyone to a specific dogma. Instead, his story is set up to help viewers/readers consider which version of the world they prefer – the one where we make our own way and suffer through the darkness via self-determination, or the one where we are aided by something greater than ourselves (regardless of which version of “God” we may accept).  (SparkNotes, page 2).


Of course, Gordon H. Clark contended that the word "religion" is for all practical purposes beyond definition; the reason being that several religions in the world do not believe in a God at all.  (MP3 Lecture:  Is Christianity a Religion?  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Truth is relative according to the Van Tilians, who in essence agree with the neo-orthodox view that God is totally transcendent and therefore unknowable.  Of course, they will vehemently protest that this is not their view.  But the implications are there.  Truth for them is analogical and not univocal.  Hence, even logic is relative to the creature. 

According to the movie, truth is a matter of preference.  The supposedly wise sage, Pi, at the end of the movie, asks the writer listening to the story to decide which version of the story he prefers?  The whole plot of the movie after the point of a shipwreck with a load of zoo animals is a fantastical tale where Pi is on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a bengal tiger.  Of course, it turns out that at the end this is merely an allegory for what really happened.  The zebra represents a Japanese soldier who has a broken leg, the orangutan is Pi's mother who floats to the lifeboat on a load of bananas, and the hyena is a French cook who is a racist. 

The real story is less exciting than the inspired myth of a boy who against all odds survives a shipwreck with a bengal tiger.  After the cook kills the wounded Japanese sailor to preserve food and water, he then kills Pi's mother during an argument in which she slaps him.  A day later, Pi takes a knife and kills the French cook, who out of guilt gives fight to live.  Revenge and self-preservation are the point of the story.

So, given a choice between the two stories--namely the allegory and the truth--the Japanese investigators and the writer listening to the story both "prefer" the allegory rather than the truth.  And, according to the protagonist, Pi, this is the essence of religion and God.  We must all learn to retell our story of self-preservation in term of inspired myths, allegories, and existential encounters with mystery.  This, according to the unnamed narrator, helps us to sooth our consiences and make peace with ourselves.

Ultimately, Pi agrees with the teachings of his father who said that to believe in all religions at once is to believe nothing.  The message of the movie is an atheistic one.  The comparative religions approach, as the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark so amply showed, is an empty one and is a total failure.  What is worse is that the message of the movie is that morality and the moral law of God does not ultimately exist either.  Morality is merely a social convention which can be shaped like a wax nose to fit our circumstances.  Truth, right and wrong, and existential interpretations of our life metanarrative is ultimately a matter of personal preference.

How different is the view that God is logical and rational.  According to Dr. Gordon H. Clark, the architecture of God's mind is logic.  Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, we too are rational and logic souls.  When we know something that is true then we know what God knows on that single proposition.  All knowledge, according to Dr. Clark, is propositional in nature.   Anyone watching the movie, The Life of Pi, can see that when a special and logical revelation in Holy Scripture is denied, then the result is skeptism, irrationalism, unbelief, and nihilistic practical atheism.  

According to the metanarrative of existential religion, the idea that life is about self determination is all that matters and the religious myth is simply a crutch to help the unbeliever deal with the cold and hard reality of survival in the real world.  Ultimately, the Van Tilian version of neo-Calvinism agrees with this view while pretending to disagree.  The self-deception and denial is really a half-truth perpetuated through dissimulation.  If truth is different for us and for God, then there is only the truth that the creature makes for himself through his or her own existence.  Religion is merely a way to overcome the existential angst all humans suffer in one way or another.

The Life of Pi is an object lesson for Christians.  As the late Dr. Clark argued, we must either accept the Bible as our axiomatic starting point, or we end up in irrationalism, skepticism and unbelief.  The postmodern view of comparative religions as a way to "experience" God is no answer.  It is an avoidance of truth.  Scripture alone is the Word of God.  (2 Timothy 3:15-17;  Psalm 119:160; John 17:17).  The Word of God cannot be broken and life is more than living by bread alone.  Every Word that God speaks gives us sustenance through life's struggles.  (John 10:35; Matthew 4:4).


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