More Thoughts on Avatar and Christianity

I met with a group of fantasy friends this past Saturday, and of course Avatar came up. One, Mike Duran of Decompose, brought me an LA Times article discussing the criticism of the movie by the political right.

Then on Sunday our guest preacher used Avatar in an illustration. He said he hesitated to do so and that his wife advised against it. Someone sitting behind me whispered, “Why? What’s wrong with it?”

(While I wanted to whip around and say, You don’t know what’s wrong with a movie espousing a worldview so diametrically opposed to Christianity as Avatar? I refrained myself. 😆 )

All that to say, this movie is becoming a cultural phenomenon, yet there seems to be some growing opposition to it. As far as I’m concerned, however, the controversy is missing the core objectionable material—the religious framework of the movie.

Here’s how people seem to be reacting:

  • The majority of moviegoers love it
  • Some like the movie but think the story is a tired reworking of a common tale (follow this link for a humorous look at Avatar‘s plot line)
  • Some like the movie for the visuals but think the storytelling was preachy.
  • Some dislike Avatar because they object to the political and social ideology.
  • A tiny segment warn that the movie promotes a panentheistic/anti-biblical worldview.
  • I have to say, I’m disturbed by all those reactions by Christians except the last one. Yes, ALL but the last one.

    To indiscriminately love the movie is a problem. To object to it because it isn’t a better story or because its got the wrong politics or the wrong view of society is also a problem if the moviegoer doesn’t see the religious framework.

    The truth is, our religious convictions will affect our politics and our view of society and of art—unless they aren’t really convictions. James Cameron’s apparently are. The political and social statements he made in Avatar are consistent with the panentheism the movie preaches.

    What, then, does the criticism of the movie say about those who find fault with it? Are we most troubled by the predictable story and warmed-over dialogue? Are we most troubled by the military bashing? By the “tree hugging”? By the anti-technology message? Do we find no fault and are ready to give it the movie-of-the-decade award (or perhaps movie of the century)?

    It all seems so odd to me.

    If Jesus walked among us today, would we listen to His conversation with the Pharisees and criticize them for their politics? Or for their social ideology? For their inability to tell stories as well as Jesus? Wouldn’t the real issue be the one Jesus nailed them on—they were of their father the devil.

    Do Christians not see the false religion in movies like Avatar and Dancing with Wolves and The Lion King and Pocahontas? Or is false religion unimportant? Or less important than politics?

    It’s this last question I pray isn’t true. The Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah in part because He did not fulfill their expectation for a political savior. Have we Christians resurrected that expectation? Is this why we ignore the affront to the nature of God that dominates this movie?

    For further discussion, see “Avatar And Religious Discussion.”

    %d bloggers like this: