Michael Gerson: Art is only truly religious when it is fully human

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    It's not up to somebody else to define what is "religious"... to you. That's up to you.

    And it doesn't have to be spiritual. Haven't you heard of people who's car, or their job, or their money... has become their "God"?

    Not all gay people are "religious", but some are the most religious people I know. So don't let anybody tell you that you can't be religious if you are gay.

    That doesn't mean all Mormons will understand you (and it's not just Mormons BTW). But what's religious to you... shouldn't matter what other people think, or how they define it.

    Sorry you had a bad experience. Remember... Mormons are just people. They have just as many weaknesses as any other person. Some of them suffer from being judgmental. But it's not restricted only to Mormons. That's just the community you grew up in.

    If you decide to give religion another try... don't look to others to "decide what is religious". I think you know what it is.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    April 3, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    This is something that crosses my mind often. Who decides what is religious? Who decides what is spiritual? I am gay. I grew up Mormon and was active. I went on a mission. I did have a good experience growing up Mormon. I learned to feel a deep love for God and for others. was able to share my beliefs with many and I believe that I know what it is to feel something spiritual.
    A rumor of my being gay destroyed so much! people believed so much that was never true and it was clear that I was no longer welcome. To most Mormons, I stopped believing in God. If I bring up anything spiritual or anything about God, I get silence in return. When talking about same sex marriage, people refer to religious freedom and do not include gay people, as if we have nothing to do with God or religion! Seriously, I do have deep beliefs about God. I had to change my view on being gay. That took a very long time! Sincerity is very important and love! You may be surprised how spiritual we can be! Mormons, read the 11th article of faith.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 2, 2014 11:09 a.m.

    @ Mister J

    "However, Greek Myths are pretty entertaining."

    Ha! Agreed!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 2, 2014 10:43 a.m.


    I don't get the letter writer's point. Can somebody explain it?

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    April 2, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    Noah was completely brilliant. Best movie I've seen in five years, and I see A LOT of movies. Darren Aronofsky's masterpiece. Does it slavishly follow the Bible text? No. It does something much much better. It honors the Bible by taking the story seriously.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    re: Tyler D

    "Mr. Gerson wants us to believe that evangelicals are deeply nuanced and possess a profound ability..."

    Subtle is the last word I'd use to describe an evangelical christian.

    re: Karen R.

    "The truth is so much more fascinating and inspiring than the myths created by humans."

    I agree. However, Greek Myths are pretty entertaining.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 1, 2014 6:15 p.m.

    My testimony? I became fully human after ridding myself of religion.

    The truth is so much more fascinating and inspiring than the myths created by humans.

  • wjalden Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 1, 2014 3:52 p.m.

    I'm really not an Aronofsky fanboy, but "Noah" was a very moving adaptation of one of man's great myths (or historical events, if you're a believer). I don't think Noah was presented as a vegan. You don't ever see the family eating much of anything. There is an environmentalist message in the movie, but it's fairly low-key and it's easy to ignore. The most moving moments by far are when Aronofsky employs the language of the Bible, as when Noah recounts the story of the Creation.

    It's a great movie. Probably not quite Oscar material, but still certainly worth seeing.

    But if people really want to get advice on what movie to see from one of the shallowest, wrong-headed members of an allegedly Republican presidential administration, then so be it...

  • Ifel Of'a-sofa Alpine, Utah
    April 1, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    I was excited for the movie, I thought it was going to be good! I was not looking for a stick to the scripture version at all... but I hated the movie... horrible!

  • slcdenizen t-ville, UT
    April 1, 2014 1:27 p.m.


    Pssst... it's not meant for literal interpretation. Jesus likewise used allegories to explain concepts. Are you equally upset when good samaritan stories aren't exactly like the bible? Religious tradition is beneficial when approaching vague or nuanced concepts, but falls apart if taken literally. I'm certain this was the main critique Jesus had of the pharisees. They were overemphasizing the specifics of the laws at the expense of the meaning. The great irony of our times is this biblical literalism nonsense that "Christians" obsess over while opportunities to treat others as Jesus would have pass them by. But, whatevs - to each their own.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    April 1, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    Longs for a movie that is 'fully human'.

    Revels a movie that omits people of color.

    In Egypt.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 1, 2014 12:43 p.m.

    Russell Crow is a great actor but Noah did not use Lord of the Rings imaginary rock characters to build the ark...at least that isn't what I read in the OT. Too bad. Great movie material but bad director. Hollywood is so scared of appearing too religious. They have to stray off the path into their god-less content as much as possible. People would rather have more God - not less. The natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the beginning....

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 1, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    There seem to be some real contradictions going on here. Mr. Gerson wants us to believe that evangelicals are deeply nuanced and possess a profound ability (due to grace?) to understand the hearts of men (i.e., that people are not cardboard caricatures).

    He then goes on to blast God Is Not Dead for being precisely the cardboard caricature he says is virtually non-existent among evangelicals while acknowledging (with no apparent irony I can detect) the movie is a “surprising hit.”

    Having conversed with many evangelicals, I have yet to meet one who didn’t believe deep down that 1) people cannot be moral without believing in God (specifically the God of Abraham) and 2) the only reason people don’t believe in God is because they want to live an unrepentant life… because the Bible is obviously true, right?

    Apparently Mr. Gerson and I have never met the same evangelicals…

  • slcdenizen t-ville, UT
    April 1, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    As if atheist trolling hasn't gotten bad enough, now we can look forward to empty-headed fundies convinced they can convert the atheists. I might just quit the internet for a while. Lovely.

  • Fyodor Mikhailovich Salt Lake City, UT
    April 1, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    Your comment about liberal bloggers is pretty snarky.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 1, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    Geez, it's only a movie. Entertainment. Nothing more.

  • liberty or ...? Ogden, UT
    April 1, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    Yet religious movies such as the 10 commandments, The Robe, Ben Hur, and the Prince of Egypt where critically acclaimed and even when there Box office earnigns are adjusted for inflation manage to beat out many of their current blockbuster movie secular counter parts. What made these movies a success is they did not attempt to distort,promote, or interpret the claims or beliefs of the faiths involved. Prince of Egypt and 10 Commandments attempt to tell the Exodus story as accurately as possible rendered in the actual account and what relgious leaders typically agreed upon who Moses was.Ben Hur and The robe although fiction do not distort the claims of what Christians believe about Christ.In other words they built upon the common beliefs they all agreed upon. Noah's problem is that it is told from fiction perspective and distorts the story itself. Before you cry whats the problem? I wonder what the Geologists and Anthropoligists response would be if I had a colusion between universities, academics, and historians using every means of geological and fossil data to promote the belief that the Flintstones is the true history of the jurassic era? What the dinosaurs are there right?

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    April 1, 2014 7:44 a.m.


    What I think the author might be getting at is that art is a sort of "wholistic" thing. Art is uniquely human, and in terms of religion especially, expresses and encompasses the human condition. In a real-life human context, concepts such as salvation, sin, redemption, doubt, and faith are multi-dimensional and spread into many aspects of our life in many different ways, and capturing that in art is what really makes it "art", as opposed to clearly superficial or one-sided presentations such as, among other things, the two movies brought up in the article.

    If this is the case, I support the idea the author is getting at. It's too much to fit into an article comment, but this is exactly what one can see in video games if they contrast "Xenogears" with, say, "Breath of Fire II".

    At the same time, however... I might just go see "God is not Dead".

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 1, 2014 5:57 a.m.

    Hence the problem with religious themed movies.

    Take only the Christian religions. There are so many "brands" out there with so many nuances that any movie will not sit well with someone.

    The religious complain that Hollywood puts out too much "trash" but then complain about the religious themed movies that are produced. Talk about a no win situation.

    "Art is only truly religious when it is fully human."

    What does that even mean?