|Commentaries on matters of faith, current
events and issues from a Christian perspective by C. David Hess
David Hess is the pastor of the West Henrietta Baptist Church in West Henrietta, NY
The Life of Pi
Several have asked me if I have seen the movie, The Life of Pi, and what I thought of it, if I had. It is a logical question to ask a pastor. The movie tells a story that it claims “will make you believe in God.”
On some levels I found the movie to be entertaining, but on the whole, I didn’t like it, primarily because I disagreed with its message.
The boy, Pi, is a very religious young man. He likes all religions. He was born a Hindu and practiced Islam. After becoming acquainted with the gospels, he offers up a prayer, “Thank you, Vishnu, for introducing me to Christ.”
His rational father, a zoo owner, gives Pi a word of caution, “If you believe in everything, you will end up not believing in anything at all.”
The father has to close his zoo and move the animals. This he does via ship. The ship is caught in a storm and sinks. Pi ends up on a lifeboat alone with a Bengal tiger. They journey together for 227 days. Of course, these are challenging circumstances. The biggest challenge for the boy is not to be eaten by the tiger.
This is a fascinating story. Of course, it is not the only interpretation of Pi’s journey. There is an alternative account which does not include a tiger. When Pi is asked which story is real, he answers, “Which do you prefer?” The questioner responds, “The one with the tiger.” Pi answers, “Then that’s the real one.”
The point is that every religion offers a different story as an interpretation of the meaning of the universe and of life. The movie, and the book upon which it is based, would offer that religion is just a matter of which story you prefer, not which one is true.
Of course, the billions of adherents of many religions would disagree, including me. The Apostle Paul would certainly never agree with this theory. The story of the resurrection of Christ was not something the Apostle Paul believed because he preferred it, but because he believed it was true. In fact it can be argued that Paul might have preferred that it might not be true. His believing it made his life much more difficult. He wrote, “If Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith,; and we turn out to be lying witnesses for God,” and “we of all men are most to be pitied.” He goes on to say, “But the truth is, Christ was raised to life…”
Or as the hymn writer puts it: “I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love: I love to tell the story Because I know ‘tis true…”
2013 C. David Hess