If You Want to be Understood…Listen?


Went to see the movie Babel the other night with my wonderful wife (we’ve been married nine months today. Perhaps i should by her flowers or something). Any way it is a great movie! Bit bewildering but very powerful. One of the highlights was seeing Brad Pitt do a Morgan Powell impersonation in the movie. Morgan has always been talking about how good looking he is, and now his claims have been validated.

But apart from that… it was one of those movies that grips you from beginning to end and you’re not really sure why. Someone far more eloquent than I had this to say about the movie:

Although there is a lot to keep track of in ‘Babel’ owing to its many story lines, there is such a fluent and seamless intercutting of these segments that it is impossible not to be entranced in the entirety of the film. There is a wealth of juxtapositions of culture to be found and much fun and visual stimulation to be had because of it. From the dramatic barren landscapes of Morocco to the fast-paced teen world of Tokyo, Babel treats contrast with remarkable sensitivity and skill of the subject matter. In other words, it gives a nonsentimental yet compassionate insight into the lives of different people whose stories orbit around the kaleidoscope that is ‘Babel’, sewn together by unsparing and uninhibited performances. Better yet, you get so caught up in each story that when it cuts to make room for the next you feel almost a little offended – and that is good film-making. Babel, given its content, is everything Crash was not. Finally, it offers a satisfying and humble conclusion to an otherwise epic film.


And mostly they are right. However, I thought the Bible’s conclusion to the Babel dilemma is much more satisfying. Each of the stories had some sort of resolution within them that fit the stories and were not forced in any way. But the overall answer to the Babel story was: If You Want to be Understood…Listen. Whilst the movie seems to recognise the purpose of the Babel event in Genesis 11 it has failed to recognise the solution to Babel. Babel was not just some arbitrary decision by God to make our lives difficult but it was a global judgment from God for their rebellion against him. But God has made it possible for Babel to be undone. In Acts 2:1-4 we see another Babel event.

Acts 2:1-11
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

In an event just like Babel, God turns Babel on its head. The people are united. But this time they’re united in Christ and they’re united by the Spirit. And instead of making their own name great (incurring judgment on themselves as they did in Gen 11) they proclaim the wonders of God. And as they speak the message of the gospel God gathers the nations back to himself. Surely this is a far more satisfying solution to the problem of confusion that Babel presents??

Anyone else seen the movie?? Worth watching just to see the uncanny resemblance of Morgan Powell to Brad Pitt.

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