Friday, February 19, 2010

Vatican Slams Avatar

That Guy in the big white hat is always ruining our fun! He did it again to the innocent tree hugging movie, Avatar. Or so the media has informed me. I had to chuckle at the Catholic hater's reaction to the Vatican's movie review. "Vatican Slams Avatar" and Vatican Hard to Please" headlines reveal more about the author than the truth about the issue. I know this is a really late movie review since I will probably be on DVD soon, but I happened so see it last night for the first time.

The truth is, I did like Avatar. It was nonstop excitement and compared to most movies for adults nowadays that are basically soft porn, or extreme violence, this movie didn't make me want to turn away out of concern for my soul. However, I am glad that I got a tiny warning about it's Pantheistic theme before I saw it.

My Mom, my three sisters and I went on a girl's night out to go out to dinner and see a movie. I haven't been to a movie since before Analee was born and was craving some buttery popcorn, coke and a big screen. I heard such good things about Avatar- even Mom and Katie had seen it already and said it was good, so it was decided we would see it. At dinner, Mom mentioned that the Vatican had some reservations about the movie because of it's pantheistic themes. While watching the movie, I could see why the Vatican had objections. They weren't just themes of nature worship- there was nature worship- to the fullest extent. Usually if there is a religious person in a movie nowadays, they are always an unimportant character, or the antagonist. So when the plot began developing in Avatar with the protagonist having a conversion to tree worshiping, and all the "good guys" praying and singing in full out adoration to a tree- on more than one occasion in the movie, I was caught off guard. It made me down right uncomfortable.
Religion being praised in a blockbuster? Preposterous!

Not so, says Pope Benedict XVI. Apparently, there has been a shift in a modern culture from being eco-friendly, to eco-obsessed, to eco worshiping. I snatched this quote from this website to illustrate the Holy Father's views.
In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.”
Personally, I have not seen this new religion forming in our culture yet, but I have seen a fair share of people who equate the worth of a human with the worth of animals and nature (mostly animals).

Have you seen Avatar? Any good or bad critique you'd like to share? And what about this new religion- have you seen signs of it in our world?

I would love to hear your thoughts. I do love all comments!

Lenten Reflection #3
God's love displayed to us through the Eucharist is given not only to me or you, but to all believing Christians. Because the Eucharist makes us one body with Christ, it also makes us one body with each other who belong to Christ. Thus, intertwining the two commandments of love and making one impossible to do without the other.


Allison said...

I hated Avatar...but I honestly didn't even think about the whole "nature worship" aspect of it until reading your post.

I thought it was stupid - the tree/nature worship - but that is all I got out of it. That it was dumb, not offensive or threatening to MY beliefs. :)

Anonymous said...

My take on Avatar was that it has a good story line and plot, but with unnecessary skewed paganism. I think we can be aware of this and discuss it, and not just accept it blindly.
Julie M

Michelle said...

I really liked Avatar, which I didn't think I would. I thought it was visually beautiful which, as an artist, is always a plus. :)

It certainly was pantheistic, but I don't know...for some reason it didn't bother. Maybe it's because my spirituality tends to often be influenced by nature. I try to be eco-concious (as opposed to eco-obsessed/worshipping), but not because of NATURE, because of GOD. I don't believe nature is God, but I do believe God is in nature. He created all of it in a precise way, after all. Among the Christians I grew up with (namely protestants, and it might be true of Catholics, too, I don't know) there seems to be a reaction against the "tree-huggers" to not care about creation at all. But I think that being a steward of creation is just as important. And maybe that's what Avatar made me think of. Being a steward.

I find that during spring, when things are blooming in such a mystical way, I am drawn even closer to God. I smell his sweetness, and see His beauty everywhere. I think there really is some sort of spiritual connection between the earth and man. After all, Adam was created from the dust and our bodies and souls are indistinguishable.

But I guess it's where we draw the line between worshipping God through and because of His creation, and worshipping creation AS God.

The whole tree thing kind of made me think of the Communion of Saints - having a direct "line" to those faithful gone before. While we don't worship them, we are together in this "Tree of Life" are we not?

I guess it's one of those "gleaning to truths" kind of things.

Sarah Harkins said...

wow, Michelle, that was a beautiful reflection on God and nature! You inspire me!