WOODY WEDNESDAY Woody Allen’s Nihilism and the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS

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THE WEEKEND READ

The Woody Allen Affair and the Nihilism of Thinking

The Woody Allen affair teaches us that one of the great challenges of our time is the need to judge absent the solace of absolute knowledge or the illusions of certitude.

Published on: February 8, 2014

DISCUSSING FILMS AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS
By Everette Hatcher III

“Existential subjects to me are still the only subjects worth dealing with. I don’t think that one can aim more deeply than at the so-called existential themes, the spiritual themes.” WOODY ALLEN

Evangelical Chuck Colson has observed that it used to be true that most Americans knew the Bible. Evangelists could simply call on them to repent and return. But today, most people lack understanding of biblical terms or concepts. Colson recommends that we first attempt to find common ground to engage people’s attention. That then may open a door to discuss spiritual matters.

Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is an excellent icebreaker concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.

Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt May

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.

The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)

Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)

The secularist can only give incomplete answers to these questions: How could you have convinced Judah not to kill? On what basis could you convince Judah it was wrong for him to murder?

As Christians, we would agree with Judah ‘s father that “The eyes of God are always upon us.” Proverbs 5:21 asserts, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Revelation 20:12 states, “…And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books” (Amplified Version). The Bible is revealed truth from God. It is the basis for our morality. Judah inherited the Jewish ethical values of the Ten Commandments from his father, but, through years of life as a skeptic, his standards had been lowered. Finally, we discover that Judah ‘s secular version of morality does not resemble his father’s biblically-based morality.

Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS forces unbelievers to grapple with the logical conclusions of a purely secular morality. It opens a door for Christians to find common ground with those whom they attempt to share Christ; we all have to deal with personal morality issues. However, the secularist has no basis for asserting that Judah is wrong.

Larry King actually mentioned on his show, LARRY KING LIVE, that Chuck Colson had discussed the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with him. Colson asked King if life was just a Darwinian struggle where the ruthless come out on top. Colson continued, “When we do wrong, is that our only choice? Either live tormented by guilt, or else kill our conscience and live like beasts?” (BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY, “Finding Common Ground,” September 14, 1993)

Later, Colson noted that discussing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with King presented the perfect opportunity to tell him about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Colson believes the Lord is working on Larry King. How about your neighbors? Is there a way you can use a movie to find common ground with your lost friends and then talk to them about spiritual matters?

(Caution: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is rated PG-13. It does include some adult themes.)

Access this on the web at www.excelstillmore.com/html/beinformed/article1.shtml .(Originally published in December 2003 edition of Excel Magazine)

 

I have spent alot of time talking about Woody Allen films on this blog and looking at his worldview. He has a hopelessmeaningless, nihilistic worldview that believes we are going to turn to dust and there is no afterlife. Even though he has this view he has taken the opportunity to look at the weaknesses of his own secular view. I salute him for doing that. That is why I have returned to his work over and over and presented my own Christian worldview as an alternative.

My interest in Woody Allen is so great that I have a “Woody Wednesday” on my blog www.thedailyhatch.org every week. Also I have done over 30 posts on the historical characters mentioned in his film “Midnight in Paris.” (Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway,T.S.Elliot,  Cole Porter,Paul Gauguin,  Luis Bunuel, and Pablo Picasso were just a few of the characters.)

During the last 30 days here are the posts that have got the most hits on my blog on this subject of the “Meaning of Life”:

Francis Bacon: Humanist artist who believed life “is meaningless” (Part 1)

The movie “Les Miserables” and Francis Schaeffer
Danny Woodhead has found satisfaction in his Christian faith, Brady still looking for satisfaction despite 3 Super Bowl rings (Part 2)
2008 article on Woody Allen on the meaning of life

Nihilism can be seen in Woody Allen’s latest film “Midnight in Paris”

Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren of Kansas: Their story of deliverance from drugs jh16c

According to Woody Allen Life is meaningless (Woody Wednesday)

“Is God Enough?” Fellowship Bible sermon outline by Mark Henry July 8, 2012

Here are some posts on the movie “Midnight in Paris”:
The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 15, Luis Bunuel)
The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 9, Georges Braque)
The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 5 Juan Belmonte)
The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso)
The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 11, Rodin)The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 29, Pablo Picasso)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 13, Amedeo Modigliani)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 14, Henri Matisse)
Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 35, Recap of historical figures, Notre Dame Cathedral and Cult of Reason)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 3 Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 10 Salvador Dali)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 12, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel)

Related posts:

I love the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen and I have done over 30 posts on the historical characters mentioned in the film. Take a look below:

“Midnight in Paris” one of Woody Allen’s biggest movie hits in recent years, July 18, 2011 – 6:00 am

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

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