By Jesse Sumpter
I find the deep ocean to be rather intimidating. It is enormous. It is dark. You don’t know what is below the watery surface. Strange large monsters could be lurking below in the darkness and there is no way to know.
I think there is something about the mysterious vastness of the ocean that reveals an important truth about water. Water is a mysterious and deep liquid. It can reveal and conceal at the same time. Most of our world is under water.
When God claims his people, he chose to put this liquid material on them. The vast ocean reveals some of the meaning of this watery sign. The ocean also reveals something of God’s nature. He is like the deep ocean: vast, beyond measure, mysterious. And he puts this sign on his people.
The Riot and the Dance: Water, featuring Dr. Gordon Wilson (written by N.D. Wilson and directed by James Engerbretson) draws on these theological truths as it looks at the world under the water.
What is Water
The movie opens with a reflection on the nature of water. In just a few sentences, Dr. Wilson covers water in its various dimensions: molecular, biological, and theological. God has established water to be a key material in sustaining life on earth. Water refreshes and nourishes life. God also established a water cycle that cleanses and purifies water so it can continue this important work. But water also kills and destroys. It can drown and flood. Baptism is water in its highest form. It both kills and gives life.
These kinds of rich theological and biological discussions put BBC documentaries to shame. To speak of the world in only materialistic terms is like looking at the surface of the ocean and ignoring the colorful richness below the surface. The nature of the world can only be understood as we look fully at the great mystery that is the world. It is a creation, visible and tangible, that speaks of something above and beyond itself: a heavenly father who superintends all things.
Without God as creator, the truly vast nature of the world is missed. To ignore the reflective purpose of nature is to ignore the true profundity of the world. The natural world is a picture of the spiritual world. We must reflect on the world’s spiritual dimension in order to see rightly the natural world.
This movie shows Dr. Wilson playing in and enjoying natural revelation. The world sparkles and splashes, it cuts and burns, it rolls and dies. God has made this world and we are able to touch it and taste it and swim in it. This movie holds up for us a small piece of the glorious variety that is the world of water.
Life and Death
The movie reflects on the destructive nature of water and the monstrous creatures that live there. The ocean is a world of life and death, killing and being killed. It is dangerous and terrible and awful.
One key sequence in the movie is the shark scene. There are no cages. Just Dr. Wilson and the camera crew in the water. And then lots of massive sharks circling them.
Dr. Wilson admonishes the viewer not to let fear overwhelm our ability to see God’s design in creation. These fleshy monsters are fascinating parts of the world that God has made. Sharks, like all of creation, are made to obey God their creator. God has established man over the sharks and if the sharks violate that law, by killing man, then God will judge them for that. God is the king over the sharks too.
In another scene, Dr. Wilson takes the viewer to a pond near his home. Here, he shows the viewer a giant water bug, who lives under the water. The bug, which is about two inches in length, catches and eats a frog that is much larger than itself. The bug latches on to the frog and paralyzes it. Then the bug injects the frog with liquefying enzymes that turn the frog’s insides into mush. The bug then drinks the frog’s insides leaving a frog shell to float to the bottom of the pond. This is gruesome and yet also appropriate. Dr. Wilson explains that frogs eat tons and tons of bugs so this bug gets a chance to balance the scales the other way. This whole scene is a reminder that creation is deadly.
Creation is not just roses and flowers. It is thorns and claws, alligators and sharks. These too reveal God’s nature to us.
The movie shows how glorious creation really is. This is one of the few nature films where the main character, man, is seen in and among nature. This is a wonderful picture. Nature is not made for us to look at, but one for us to be part of. This is true because we are part of nature. Only God can stand out beyond creation. Man is not God and so we should not try to stand beyond it. We should know our status as a creature and embrace that role. God has made us to stand at the pinnacle of creation but we are still standing in creation.
The world is glorious. There are so many strange and exotic creatures to see and look at. They have strange antennae, bodies, forms, and shapes. God is an artist of such great variety. It is mind blowing to think that there are thousands and thousands of places on our planet where such magnificent creatures dwell and yet there is no man there to watch them. These magnificent creatures are just there to give glory to God. This stupefies the mind to think of how artistic God is and how he gains glory from these creatures even when there is no human there to see them.
This is a wonderful revelation too. The world was made for God. It is all for his glory.
Catch Streaming on VidAngel The Riot and the Dance Water today!
Here is a CrossPolitic interview with N.D. Wilson about The Riot and The Dance: Watch