The Movie Insterstellar and the Allegory to Paulinism
The movie Interstellar from 2014 at first seems a long movie of 2 hours 49 minutes to tell us about going to space to save our species. Yet, there is something special about this movie.
Spoiler alert: don't read on if you planned to watch the movie. But if you have not planned to do so, perhaps this article will intrigue you enough to watch it!
There is an archetype story within Interstellar -- a story that unintentionally matches the victory of Jesus one day over Paulinism. It will feel similar to how this movie ends.
In Interstellar, decades into the USA's future, a message is peering through a bookcase into a young girl's room. She thinks it is gravity sprinkling dust on the floor in non-random ways. She calls it her "ghost." She is smart as she grows up, and reads the dust on the floor coordinates for old NASA. Her father - an old NASA astronaut -- is now a farmer. This NASA of old now is a slur. The textbooks now teach that NASA perpetrated a fraud that the USA supposedly went to the moon. The purpose? To trick the old Soviet Union so as to bankrupt it to keep up. The ex-NASA fellow now has to hear school officials who wish to discipline his daughter that they are replacing textbooks to state the supposed truth about NASA; he has to submit as there is obviously no dissent to this change allowed.
Meanwhile, the gravity-dust message sends her and her father to the coordinates of the secret underground remnant of NASA by accident. These NASA people are now a bunch of heretics and disdained persons who operate in the middle of nowhere and apparently are self-funded, or relying upon funds from a by-gone era. The NASA people send a probe out with the father of this young girl. He went to a worm hole, and there dimensions are different and he can see his daughter from behind the bookshelves at every stage of her development. He can touch the books and effect the sand on the floor, and the twitching of a watch on the book-shelf. It is he in the future who has moved backwards in time to give her vital messages that will save the human species.
What allegory do I see in this? So far I see the old Ebionites and the true founder - the Jesus of Galilee, not the Jesus of Damascus. The Ebionites were those who centuries later were being misdescribed by historical censorship - now successfully labelled heresy for what is the truth. They are like NASA in the Movie Interstellar, which begins with NASA furtively surviving underground while children are now told in school they must believe NASA perpertrated the supposed moon landing fraud to bankrupt the Soviet Union. Both the truth of the Ebionites and NASA were lost by succeeding generations being subjected to historical censorship. Both were persecuted by historians into absolute disdain.
What was the Ebionite truth? The Ebionites' insistence was on the original truth of Christ: a man born of the lineage of David through Joseph, indwelled by the Father (John 14:10), who taught repentance by works worthy of repentance (Matt 5) for salvation in an era where Pharisees taught salvation by Election as Sons of Abraham that was predestined by God. Jesus came to destroy this competing Pharisaical cost-free repentance-free salvation by Election and Predestination. This man was the Son of God (not God) whom God expected we would listen to -- to take us away from the cost-free election-predestined path, and onto the correct Way -- one of works worthy of repentance spelled out in God's Law.
So the true Jesus told Zaccheus he was saved when Zaccheus obeyed the Mosaic Law by agreeing to pay back 4 fold the poor when Zaccheus no longer knew the identities from whom he stole. God appointed this Jesus as The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:17-18, and whose teachings everyone must obey or not have eternal life. (See Acts 3, Peter's sermon).
But the message handed to Jesus' followers -- first only known as the Ebionites -- meaning The Poor in Hebrew -- was obscured and disdained two centuries later by an Emperor who could censor and control history. Thus, by the time Constantine died, he had masked the Ebionites into seeming oblivion that their message appeared completely lost. In its place, Constantine's clergy were put on salary to weave fictions into the truth to now promote a "Credal Christianity" or else be exiled or, if they protested in writing, their written protests would be destroyed as heretical.
What was Credal Christianity born in 325 AD at Nicea? It was a creed built on Paul's passages of 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9. Paul taught if we just believe Jesus died for our sins and resurrected then you are saved while also confessing "Jesus" name, evidently during baptism. At Nicea the Constantinian-Christians added to Paul's formula only that Jesus was now a deity, ignoring that Jesus said if he spoke like God ("before Abraham I am") it was because the Father was dwelling in Him and Jesus was repeating the Logos of the Father that spoke through Jesus.
And this Church-Mask imposed by Constantine adopted what Paul also taught -- the idea of a sacrament that saves -- a baptism which if combined with a Confession of Jesus gave you an irrevocable promise of eternal life -- (Romans 10:9-10), creating a Sacramental Christianity as well.
What happened to Ebionite Christianity? Three centuries afterwards repentance with works worthy of repentance was done and finished. Election and Predestination rose upon the historical lie that these Ebionites were heretics. As a result, true biblical Faith and the role of baptism were replaced by Pauline Magical incantations and Magical rites of salvific confessions during baptism.
But just like the young girl in Interstellar felt the spirit - her "ghost" - giving her messages in her book case, the Jesus of Galilee and his faithful Ebionite Apostles recorded prophecies that would become messages in our "bookcases" -- useful far into the future and thus beyond control by the earlier tamperers of history. The messages she was receiving in Interstellar bypassed the censors as they were hidden in her bookshelf -- a message she experienced in her past but could not decipher except now in the future, as she matured, when she could recognize those messages of the past for what they truly contained. Also, her awakening to those messages revealed they were planted by her benevolent father who in the future could sow the messages in her past that she would later decipher. She had even thought he left her an orphan, but now realized these messages in her youth were actually from her father traveling far into the future where he could go back in time, and then he used these obscure messages all along to provide her guidance and direction in her future.
The Apostles were the portal of communication - the bookshelf in Interstellar -- as they wrote messages unaware of how their words on the page could bypass censors of history. They did not realize the hidden truths that could protect Jesus' message far into the future from a false rival whom the true twelve never fully trusted.
Only Jesus knew that the words he was speaking could speak to generations milennia later. They were available and ready for his true sons and daughters to hear our Lord warn us about Paul in words which survived only by being carefully couched so they would slip through the pro-Paul Constantine censors centuries after the Apostles penned the gospels.
The most obvious example is the warning of Christ in Matthew 5:17 that the one who teaches us to not follow the Law will be called "least" by those in the kingdom of heaven. We are finally reminded in the 19th Century that Paulus is short for Pauxilus in Latin, and meant "least." See Link. Google Books allows us to discover that forgotten and obscure fact by means of Internet searches, inaccessible generally until our generation could piece it together. Then we know our Christ said in Matthew 5:20 that such shallow adherents to the Law as the "least" man will not "enter into eternal life" (absent repentance.)
These, and in many other passages, we now sense our Lord trying to get our attention from behind the bookcase in ways that were planned centuries earlier -- an obscured message capable of reviving a remnant who would follow only Christ, not Paul, long after censors made Pauline Christianity orthodox - a Christianity that was solely a credal and sacramental path to salvation.
PS Many Protestants think Catholicism endorses "works" by your will for salvation in a manner at odds with Paul. They would be wrong. First, Catholicism does teach works are critical, but since Augustine brought in Pauline predestination, works are a gift from God that are predestined into the will of a true believer. Hence, it does not depend upon works you will; but the will of God that gives you the works. Thereby, works by your will are not of any concern if you take care of salvation by the sacrament of baptism. For Catholicism teaches instead that the sacrament of baptism is what justifies you, and saves you, just like Paul's statement in Romans 10:9 alludes to -- if you "confess" Jesus with your mouth, you shall be saved. Such confession was part of Paul's own baptism recorded in Acts, and was standard back then. See Paul's Gospel v Jesus' Gospel. What is your personal duty to have good works then in Catholicism? You are predestined, as Augustine taught, and made to have good works; but if you fail despite all God's efforts, not all is lost. There is supposedly purgatory which will eventually release you to heaven. A true baptized Catholic who recites the Nicene Creed will supposedly always be saved -- eventually. Only if the Catholic church excommunicates you do you risk loss of salvation, so it teaches.
PPS Interstellar is rated 8.6 on IMDB database with 973,000 votes. This is one of the highest ratings of any movie ever on IMDB -- #32 of all time. It is gripping, exciting, spiritual, and thought provoking. It does imply at the end that some "beings" who can move back and forward in time are helping, and that they evolved, and may even be oursevles, but this is not necessarily so. Why couldn't it be God who was helping, and giving us the tools and the challenge to use what He put before us? So it is open to interpretation.
PPPS There is a great moment when Anne Hathaway explains love for the dead or likely dead -- something that she says does not have any evolutionary advantage but is real -- must be real for a reason. She knows she feels it. Her heart is telling her to pick the Edmund planet. Her feelings are real. They may not add up or fit into a scientific equation. Without spoiling too much, her feelings were right - a sort of poetic vindication of her theory that love, at least love for the departed parent, son, child, ... is not without its purpose - only time can provide the answer looking back with hindsight what advantage it had. Commentary on IMDB calls this director Nolan's "attention to the great mystery of love." (link by Felix Tardieu)
PPPPS Nolan's other films are The Dark Knight, Inception and Memento. It may be worth looking at them too.
Here is my movie review I submitted to IMDB:
An archetype spiritual message about Love, Death & Spirituality
I read a dozen reviews, and only one or two touch briefly on what is so special about this movie. The spirituality of the movie is deliberately hidden at first. It does this by explaining that dust is everywhere in the farm home that is the center of the opening scenes. Dust can fall in seemingly non-random ways, and a child can perceive messages near the bookshelf in her room that are surely not truly messages. Are they? We don't have to think so. And by accident you can learn things from it, as she does... But by the end of the movie, the daughter learns that someone as good as dead indeed was communicating with her all along. Her watch's second hand on the bookshelf twitches while she is a young lady, and she does not perceive any possibility of a message in that seemingly random act. Or is it random? Then Dr. Brand / Anne Hathaway during the mission talks about love for the dead, or those we should assume dead, has no evolutionary advantage, yet it is real. It turns out that the one she pines for on Edmund's planet is a love she wants to follow, but science says no. He is likely dead. He has no clear message as strong as Dr. Mann that his planet which he found is ideal for transferring earth to it. We must instead go to Mann's planet. Thus, Dr. Mann represents another message -- a tempting message -- to follow ... to a world of an habitable planet, of water, of good air, etc.
SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ FURTHER IF YOU WANT A SURPRISE
But the message from Dr. Mann is a lie. Dr. Mann turns out to be one who is selfish. One who is a liar and a murderer. A coward. Anne's love for Edmund - on the planet he landed on but no clear communication ever came back that it was as habitable as Dr. Mann's planet -- was the right choice in hindsight. However, with only reasonable foresight, it did not make scientific sense to take that option that Edmund's planet represented.
Thus, Anne Hathaway (Dr. Brand) was on the right track pursuing love even when it made no sense on an evolutionary scale. We can only know it was the right choice looking backwards with hindsight.
In terms of story arch, the character that changes is very atypical in movie watching -- it is US - the audience. We can all give love a try again, seeing that it was in hindsight the better choice. The promise of everything on Dr. Mann's planet makes a practical decision putting love out of the equation as the right choice, but not going with love was an ILLUSION. Love is real, Anne / Dr. Brand says.
It is a great spiritual allegory, if you peak under the covers.
Who was the Liar? His name was Dr. MANN.... Who is Edmund? You can figure it out.
The ending is then written to make the attempt to visit Dr. Mann, which failed, become redeemed by the only hope left -- the path of LOVE in two directions. First, for Anne to Edmund's planet, and second, Cooper for the love and promise to his daughter. Both paths were the right path in the end, leading to the happy conclusion where pursuing different paths to love in the end united in happiness the two main characters - a new Adam and a new Eve in the new heavens and new earth.
The mystery is who are "they" who set this all up by creating a wormhole with a three-dimensional structure to communicate from the future into the past. Is it us? Is it a they? The movie leaves those two possibilities. But the movie challenges you to think beyond what you can see and are told to think are the only possibilities. Is it instead the ONE?