Being a part of the Evangelical Christian world I know there have been mixed reactions to the movie, especially concerning its spiritual themes. Let me just say as a Christian I do not believe we should worship the creation rather than the creator, and in this sense I don’t feel that the Na’vi offer a flawless example of how I ought to revere nature. But despite this, I feel the movie speaks a very powerful message. Since I have yet to see Christians racing to present so vividly and successfully their perspective on the value of nature to the general public, I will make no apologies for admiring the allegedly pantheistic threat to Christianity that is Avatar.
I also realize some may argue that without the special effects and visuals the movie would not be nearly as good because the story wasn’t the greatest. And it is true that the story wasn’t all that original, the acting wasn’t exceptional, and the plot had some holes in it. However, I would argue that the imagery and effects used in Avatar serve as a major component of the story, and at least help to deliver some of the powerful messages found within the story.
The amazing artistry and special effects coupled with the strange, intriguing new world of Pandora helps summon the awe, wonder and respect we’ve lost for our own world. One of the most impressive things we notice about Pandora is how everything in its natural state provides for the Na’vis’ most basic practical needs as well as for their leisurely enjoyment. We are also reminded that this provision only continues in conjunction with the Na’vi treating Pandora with respect and care. However, this seems to come naturally to the Na’vi, for they have not lost their sense of awe and wonder towards their natural home. With that awe and wonder comes respect; and in this they find great contentment and joy relying on their planet and it’s abundant, timely provision. Why seek to replace or outdo such an amazing, faithful source of life?
As our respect and wonder for our planet wanes, rather than gratefully partaking of its natural system of provision we seek to replicate and/or replace it through our own technological advances.
As the big screen swoops us through Pandora’s spiraling forest, oversized leaves, and sideways tree trunks, we are in unspeakable awe of the planet’s beauty, majesty and design. In reality, that should be our reaction to our own planet in everyday real life. The natural planet we reside on ought to fascinate us and inspire in us a deep sense of reverence and loyalty.
For those of us who were overtaken with horror as the troops recklessly plowed through the Na'vi forest to uproot their source of survival and sustenance, we must ask ourselves: do we feel that same sense of horror when we see comparable injustices carried out in our own planet? Does it ache us at all to know that much of our daily life and experience is the result of such injustices-not just towards others, but towards ourselves? When we enjoy the privilege of being amidst unadulterated nature do we wonder why there isn’t more of it? Do we deeply mourn at the sad reality that there once was much more but we did away with it?
I’m not suggesting we pray to trees or find some means of spiritual connectivity with plants and animals. I’m suggesting that as a Christian I ought to see the Earth as something precious, something my God thoughtfully crafted with all of His infinite wisdom and creativity to sustain itself so long as we allow it. And I ought to wonder why we systematically take such crappy care of it all. And maybe as we explore these ideas it will change the way we see everything...or even better, we will change the way we do everything.
I actually plan to blog quite a bit more on the subjects of nature, modernization and Christianity. I'll throw a link here when I get it going.