I have now actually seen Avatar. Can’t say I really disagree with Mark here on the spiritual side of things. Spiritually, I would characterize Avatar as repackaged gnosticism having also shades of process theology and pantheism. The film is not merely spiritual, it is also political and in its politik, it is a full-frontal attack on Western Imperialism and American hegemony. I would be hesitant to equate Western Imperialism with the cultural mandate (to do so would be wrong and dangerous). Politically, I think the film is more of an attack on Western Imperialism/Colonialism than the cultural mandate.
Disclaimer: I have not seen the film Avatar. Here is a link to a story about audience members who have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, due to the fact that they cannot live in the utopian Pandora. My initial thought was this is completely pathetic… it is just a movie promoting pantheism (or perhaps panentheism) while bashing American imperialism.
However, on second thought, there is something more profound here. It is not new or revolutionary for humanity to long for peace, prosperity, and flourishing life. The people who are feeling these ‘side-affects’ are really longing not for Pandora. They are longing for the Shalom that God will usher in at the Second Coming of Christ. These people are longing for the fullness of the Kingdom of God where everything is made right, everything is made new, and there is no injustice. Its the same longing for the end of winter in Narnia, the destruction of the ring in Lord of the Rings, or Christian’s journey to Mt. Zion and the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress. There is a palpable intensity to living in this broken world. The reality of fallen creation can be bleak and depressing and promote both anxiety and despair. All of man’s attempts at utopia have failed: communism, capitalism, pantheism/panentheism/Walden’s Pond, communalism… We need the reality of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, making peace through his propitiatory sacrifice the wrath of God towards the sins of man. We need Christ’s church to do her work throughout the Earth. We need Christ to return and establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.
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