CLIPS: 00:15:45 – 00:20:36 / 00:30:30 – 00:33:58 / 01:00:17 – 01:02:14 / RATING: PG
Buffalo newsman Evan Baxter is elected to Congress with the slogan ‘Change the world’. He lucks out with a huge house and a fantastic Capitol office, but there’s a catch. He is tapped up by
Congressman Long to co-sponsor a bill that allows development to take place in national parks. However, God has different ideas. He appears to Evan and commands him to build an ark. Tools and wood arrive in Evan’s yard, animal pairs follow, his beard and hair grow wildly, and nomad’s clothes and a staff appear. Congressman Long grows impatient, Evan starts building, his family members leave him, reporters gather and drought grips the capital. Still, Evan believes.
Like its predecessor, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty takes a unique look at belief in God, with Morgan Freeman playing God, and some key biblical teachings and ideas interwoven with outlandish comedy. It’s rare that such a mainstream film tackles such religious ideas so clearly, and more than ten years later Evan Almighty remains a great resource to facilitate discussions among young people.
There are three clips to show your group in this session. Each is quite short and shows the progression of the story. The first sees Evan meeting God for the first time and, despite his unbelief and protests, he is commanded to build an ark. The second sees Evan’s second meeting with God, where they discuss whether Evan is following his own or God’s plan. The final clip features God speaking to Evan’s concerned wife Joan and reassuring her that Evan is building an ark for a reason. If you are tight on time, miss out clip two.
After showing the clips as a stimulus, break into small discussion groups (you may wish to have a designated discussion leader in each group) and discuss the following questions:
- Why would God choose someone like Evan for a particular mission?
- How is God depicted in the film? Is it ok to portray God like this?
- God suggests that all we need to do to change the world is “one act of random kindness at a time”. Is it that simple?
- How does God describe answers to prayer? Is this positive?
- Do you agree with the way God describes the story of Noah’s ark?
After discussing the first set of questions, read through the story of Noah’s ark. As it runs from Genesis 6-9, you may wish to choose key passages or to present a summary of the story. Then return to your groups to discuss the next set of questions:
- What do you think the overall message of Noah’s ark is? Does it match the message given in Evan Almighty?
- How is God depicted in this story? Is this a loving God?
- Does it matter whether this story is literally true or not?
- What can the Noah’s ark narrative teach us today?
Evan Almighty is finally available to stream on Netflix, so why not show the whole film if you have time?
TOM WADE is the head of philosophy and theology at Haileybury and Imperial Service College