OK OK- before you blast me for over analyzing everything (my kids sometimes give it to me about reading the Bible into everything) I will direct some Biblical worldview analysis of Avatar- I'm sorry, but it is how I am wired.
First of all, how can you not admire the film?- and you have to especially admire the creative imagination of James Cameron who has played this over and over in his mind for 15 years. He had to invent technology to even begin putting this down in digital wonder.
But the story does two unexpected things:
1) This is the first movie I have seen to show a fatigue of and dis-satisfaction with post-modern thought.
See, ultimately post-modern philosophy destroys the 'big picture'- in post-modern thinking there is NO meta-narrative that pulls everyone together. The consequence is a fragmentation of humans into individuals with no truth and no purpose. The problem with this is that we cannot live this way. As we become less and less connected (despite facebook, texts, and tweats ) we begin to grow cold. When E-harmony.com become a multi-billion dollar business, you realize that our relationships are crumbling under the terrible carnage of post-modern fractures of tradition and truth.
And (2) the movie again unveils our deep heart desires. Did you see it? What was special about the Na'vi? It was their ability to connect to the life force of Eyra that all of nature is connected to. Wasn't it cool to think of uploading your inner being into a 'horse' or Banshee and guiding them with your thoughts? Why is that such a yearning? Because we are so not connected.... we live in bubbles spending our time traveling in cars and zapped into boredom by tech-screens.
As Christians, we are getting very close to entering a time of unprecedented gospel need in America. All of our idols are dull. We need a $15 movie to provide the next big whoop. All of our stories are looking tarnished- sports, government, entertainment, and pleasure is fading- life is not fulfilling what we all want.
We think we want Pandora... but it too is full of flaws. We romanticize about the Indian lifestyle only to realize that they got cold, hungry, and had no answer for mosquitoes. Eventually you want to build a home and cook on a range top.
But we also want that meta-narrative- we desire harmony- but it never happens because we run around being little gods caught up in our own pathetic stories. NO- the only way to harmony is to escape our prison and enter the story of our Warrior- King, The Creator of all life, love, and passion.
It is an incredible story, a story about His pain and sacrifice, a story of His love and mercy.
I do think Cameron's imagination should also encourage our hope of Heaven. You think flying among floating Islands is cool? Wait til you see the new heaven and earth! You get caught up in 9 foot, perfect blue bodies?... just wait and see what God has for you in your resurrection body!
Two last notes: The movie demonstrates God over and over.... our need to worship- the moral law that inhabits all humanity (even alien ones)- the evil of greed and selfishness- the joy of faithful love and service.
And sadly, it also shows the hypocrisy of our culture. We tolerate all faiths.... and encourage worship by indigenous people to all except Christians. I heard it this morning: The only thing tolerance has given us is an excuse to sin and not feel shame. It really is a lack of love- we sit back and passively watch people apply error and wonder why they are hurting.
I admit my part in this- the church has mistaken self-righteous separation for service and honored cowardly silence over loving, humble, and sincere gospel proclamation.
So don't be afraid to step in the opening and say.. I know a real answer to your desire for Pandora's magic. And it is not a fantasy, He is a PERSON. The most wonderful being in the Universe.. and our only hope for love, peace, and true harmony.
Just my take... I hope to see it again. And I loved it in the IMAX theater... WOW!
Jay - Just saw the film and came away with many of the same thoughts and feelings as you did. One other thing that struck me was the portrayal of incarnation. No, not so much drawing lines to Christ incarnation (though that is the highest, purest example), but looking at an incarnational model of living. It was not enough for Jake to be one of the Na'vi physically. He had learn to understand them, to do as they did, to appreciate them, to think like them and even to feel like them before he was truly accepted. You mention that this film gives Christians an opening - there is a void - a void that can only be filled by Christ. And yet so many of his followers do not know how to be incarnational, even within their own culture. We, like Jake, though we may look like the folks around us, often have such differences with the culture that we do not understand 21st century people, nor they us. We need to learn how people think, how they feel, what they like, and (when not biblically inappropriate) learn to take on these same things so that we can bridge the gap and proclaim Christ. That takes effort, commitment, discernment and time (not to mention many other things), and yet it is extremely necessary to be able to share true love with our people.
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