Babel: On the Insufficiency of Travel

mv5bmjezmzg4ntiyof5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjm3mzgzmq__v1__sy140_sx100_.jpgBy dispersing the workers seeking to build a tower to Him, God wanted us to understand the hard truth that the way to Him and all He can provide is through Himself and not through uniting with one another. By making cooperation frustrating through linguistic differences, God planted the seeds for cultural differences and cultural frustrations. Human beings would forever find it impossible to satisfy their needs working, even cooperativly, outside of God and His will.

In his monumental work, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, Leon R Kass suggests the Biblical story’s application to our current world.

“Discovering the partiality of one’s own truths and standards invites the active search for truths and standards beyond one’s making. Opposition is the key to the discovery of the distinction between error and truth, appearance and reality, convention and nature—between that which is appears to be and that which truly is. Contesting a “human truth” invites the quest for a truth beyond human making; the discovery of multiple human ways invites an interest in the best possible way. The self-content have no aspirations and longings, the self-content are closed to the high.”

The “truths beyond one’s making” are not to be found in other cultures and civilizations, but in God alone. The film Babel depicts the “opposition” humans find when seeking meaningful life not in God but through travel to other lands and cultures.

Closed to “the high”, the characters in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s film find only tragedy as they cross into alien cultures seeking happiness: Leaving their children in San Diego to travel to Morocco, Richard and Susan Jones cause, not marital rejuvenation, but trouble for the entire family; traveling from Japan to Morocco on a hunting trip leads to tragedy both for Yasujiro ‘s wife and deaf mute daughter back home, and his Moroccan host, Anwar. Having left Mexico to find employment as a nanny in California, Amelia, the Jones children’s nanny, finds tragedyfor herself, and her nephew, Santiago, as she tries to return for her son’s wedding.

To those whose hunger and thirst lead to other lands, God once again seems to be saying:

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him”

Comments are disabled for this post