Friday, January 22, 2010

The Gospel According to Avatar

Just after Christmas we went to see the blockbuster film Avatar. If you haven't already seen it, I don't want to spoil the plot for you. I simply offer some thoughts on the message that the movie attempts to convey. The film is set in 2154 on the moon Pandora in the Alpha Centauri star system. Human beings have discovered that the moon has reserves of the energy rich mineral, “unobtanium”. The film is visually stunning in glorious 3D. Pandora's natural environment is beautifully realised, teeming with strange and exotic life forms. The jungle is the home of the indigenous natives the Na'vi, who with their exceptional height and striking blue skin colour have been unkindly compared to elongated Smurfs. Ex-US marine Sam Worthingon assumes the form of a Na'vi avatar in order to infiltrate the group and broker a deal that will allow mining of the unobtanium that lies beneath their Home Tree.

Apart from a few honourable exceptions the human beings are depicted as grasping, violent and unscrupulous. They will stop at nothing to get their hands the hugely valuable unobtanium deposits. The Na'vi on the other hand seek to live in harmony with nature. The centrepiece of their religion is a sacred Tree of Souls. The film is a parable of man's greedy exploitation of nature. For “unobtanium” read “oil” and you’ve got the picture. One newspaper columnist argued that Avatar would do more to generate concern for the environment than the recent Copenhagen Summit. But there is something stubbornly self-destructive in human beings that a bit of nature worship will not cure. The gospel according to Avatar can't help us.

Christians believe that Jesus the Son of God became one of us. He was not an avatar who merely seemed to be human, but a true human being. Jesus came as Man to break the power of sin and evil by dying for our sins and rising from the dead. His great mission was not merely to rescue individual people from sin, but to renew the whole creation and restore harmony and peace in the universe. This he will do when he comes again. Living in the light of that hope believers will seek to make this world a better place. But it will take more than environmental concern to redeem humanity. We cannot save ourselves, let alone the planet. Only the power of Jesus can do that. I recommend some concerted tree hugging,
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

1 comment:

Jonathan Hunt said...

A couple more words:

pantheism, feminism.

And the blasphemy was enough to ensure I will not buy the DVD.