Jonathan Shaw, Christ the King School Graduate, Creates Documentary Film: Finding Noah
Looks can be deceiving. Because the initial view was from an undetermined distance, the majestic snow capped mountain didn't look that high to my untrained eye. I whispered to my husband, "If they have access to a helicopter, why don't they fly the explorers to the base camp, rather than making them hike?"
I learned later that Mt. Ararat, the volcanic mountain being scaled by "arkeologists" and a film crew for the documentary film Finding Noah, is actually almost 17,000 feet in elevation.
Once I learned that fact, I knew why the explorers hike to base camp was necessary. The human body requires time to acclimate to rising altitude; flying to base camp would not have allowed the "arkeologists" the time their bodies required to successfully adjust.
Viewers later learn another reason for not using helicopters - warring factions in the area like to shoot down helicopters.
The hike provided not only the time needed for the explorers' bodies to adjust to the rising altitude; it provided an additional, beneficial and unintentional outcome -the time necessary for the men, who were relative strangers before signing on to this mission, the time required to form strong bonds - bonds they would need as the expedition progressed.
Reaching the base camp at 3,000 feet was a physical feat for the many who were not seasoned climbers. By the time they reached the final camp, the teams of two which were tethered together, had regularly risked their lives while traversing crevasses deep enough that their bodies would never be recovered.
As Shaw put it, "They start out as a group of individuals but as they begin their ascent, and have to brave the dangers and elements they become a team; each man looking out for his brother as he would want them to look out for him. The ultimate 'do unto others'...."
I consider myself a believer, but I am also a pragmatist. I'm very familiar with the story of Noah's Ark, but I count myself among what I believe is the majority of people who understand the story of Noah's Ark to be an allegory.
Again, looks can be deceiving to the untrained eye. According to research, native global flood stories are documented as history or legend in almost every region on earth. According to H.S. Bellamy's Moons, Myths and Men there are over 500 flood legends worldwide. Honestly, I never gave the story that much thought.
But that is not the case for the "arkeologists" and film crew on the expedition. They were willing to risk their lives, either by falling into an icy crevasse, by being shot by warring factions or freezing to death in search of the illusive Ark. Shaw said it well "I saw these individuals most of whom were not mountaineers taking huge risks for their beliefs."
This was certainly not the first group in search of Noah's Ark. Expeditions have been traced back as far as the time of Marco Polo. One explorer in the film says, "Mt. Ararat has a strong pull."
A graduate of Christ the King School in Snyder, Jonathan Shaw said this about his Catholic school education "I believe outside of my parents the time I spent in the Catholic school system gave me the foundation that made me who I am today. The balance of not only science, math, history and English but the "humanities" of religion and music made me a much more rounded person and of course the discipline kept me in-line."
Despite leaving just after the Blizzard of '77, Shaw's connections to Buffalo are strong; he reads the Buffalo News on-line each day and both he and his wife have family here. His son lives outside San Francisco and is a "die-hard Bills and Sabres fan; and his daughter who, despite growing up in southern California, graduated from Canisius College.
When asked how he got involved in this project Shaw says, "This project came to me ... I am always looking to use my filmmaking skills to make meaningful and insightful content. The opportunity to craft a film telling the history of/and the continued search for evidence of one of the greatest stories in the Bible was too intriguing to pass up. It was an easy decision to make and one I am so thankful I made." He goes on to say, "Finding the Ark would be a further testament that God has interceded with man and would be an amazing discovery/one that I believe could change mankind for the better."
Jonathan Saw closes by saying, "I believe there are many mysteries out there still to be solved, in science, in humanity and in our faith. As one of the explorers says in the film, 'if we don't go we won't know'. And that's what I believe, we need to keep searching. From the cures to disease, the solutions to climate change, to the cornerstones of our faith. Keep looking. We need for each of us to find our mountain."
Watch the Finding Noah trailer