More on Avatar

After posting yesterday, I did more reading. One writer, Ross Douthat, published a piece in the NY Times op-ed section, “Heaven and Nature,” that raised some rebuttal.

The article I read answering Douthat, “The Meaning of Avatar: Everything is God (A Response to Ross Douthat and other naysayers of ‘pantheism’)” by Jay Michaelson in the Huffington Post spells out the beliefs propagated by Avatar and connects them to ancient religions.

While Michaelson is obviously a proponent of these beliefs, his article removes the gloss from the movie so we can peer beyond the imaginative to the metaphysical.

This is what Christians should be doing!

Instead of thinking and studying to find out what the movie is actually saying, many seem content to watch Solomon build his high places for his foreign wives.

This is not OK! Christians need to recognize error from truth, no matter how much or little artistry clothes it. Christians need to say to their friends and children that the message of Avatar is opposed to the message of the Bible. The two beliefs cannot coexist.

Am I saying Christians should not see the movie? Far from it! We should see it and realize that the religion espoused by the Na’vi is the religion espoused by influential people in our culture, especially in the movie industry.

But here’s what at least one voice in the Christian community is saying:

Douthat goes on to call the film “a long apologia for pantheism” that merely reflects the results found in a recent Pew Forum report — that “many self-professed Christians hold beliefs about the ‘spiritual energy’ of trees and mountains.”

Hmm, interesting observations, and quite possibly on target. But I simply say, relax. Avatar isn’t forcing anything down anyone’s throat, no more than any other movie — and less so than many agenda-driven films made by Christians — with a message. It’s a fantasy film about an alien planet.

Can’t we all just chill out and enjoy the cinematic ride? I haven’t hugged any trees since seeing Avatar — though they sure are beautiful outside my window right now with today’s fresh snowfall — and I can’t wait to see it again.
Avatar and the Gospel According to James,” by Mark Moring, in Christianity Today Movies & TV Blog

This latter view is what I feared. Christians above all others are not to preach—so say Christians as well as others in our society!

If nothing changed in Avatar except that the Na’vi called their god “Jesus,” I believe there would be a controversy swirling around the movie, the likes we haven’t seen since The Sorcerer’s Stone.

Avatar preaches! It preaches a religion, it preaches a political and social ideology, and Moring has the audacity to say it’s OK because it doesn’t force anything down anyone’s throat. Is that because Cameron didn’t ask for decisions at the end?

I’m sorry, but I don’t see how honest critics can know what the movie was about—and Moring apparently hasn’t missed the pointed message because he says he believes Douthat is probably right in his claims—and still think it isn’t poison.

Poison!

From time to time we have poisonous things in our houses, but we also clearly mark them with the symbol for poison. Poison is only dangerous for improper use if it is easily accessible and unmarked. However, if it is served in a beautiful goblet, flooded by a sweet smelling wine, it may not be detected at all. In such an instance poison becomes deadly.

Shouldn’t we who know there’s poison in the glass be shouting at the tops of our lungs?

For more discussion on Avatar and Christianity see “Why Christians Aren’t Up In Arms About Avatar”.

7 Comments

  1. […] And lest anyone thinks that perhaps the Na’vi were actually worshipping the true God but were ignorant about Jesus, take time to read Jay Michaelson’s post on the religious position espoused by Avatar. (I mentioned this article a week ago in “More Avatar.”) […]

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  2. If the Na via called their God (Enya) Jesus, it would have been a Jesus but not the Jesus. New ageers regard “Jesus” as a state of being but that does not mean you worship the true Christ. Being “a Jesus” is one stage before becomming a Yogi — thus, just because the name Jesus is used does not mean it is truth.

    Often we forget something and that is God’s holiness. Even if entertainment, taking a shot at re-defining the character of God is blasphemy and that is what so many movies do (or attempt to do).

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  3. Neil, I agree with you.

    My reason for mentioning the idea of using “Jesus” as the name of the Na’vi god was to illustrate a different point. Our culture has become accepting of all kinds of religious indoctrination while at the same time more and more resistant to anything related to Christianity. I was postulating that if nothing else changed but the insertion of “Jesus” we would not have a mildly indifferent reaction to the religion of the movie but a controversy—no matter that the movie would be no different at its core.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Becky

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  4. Becky — that makes sense, yes. The Devil’s work is often blatant but often, he is very, very subtle in his battle for the mind. Particularly when Christians do not immerse themselves in the word, they are easily brought down the path subtle manipulation of the truth.

    Neil

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  5. Ah, Neil, I love to hear you say this. My whole purpose for writing the posts about attacks against God (see also “The Emerging Heresy”) was to emphasize the subtle manipulation of the truth. We Christians, I fear, are asleep at the wheel much of the time.

    Becky

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  6. Yes indeed, and very interesting to see you are aware of this. I would love to hear of your thoughts and insights, if any, on the seeker friendly movement.

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  7. […] For further discussion see More On Avatar. […]

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