faith, movies, musings, sci-fi

The Truth in Avatar

When I first saw the Avatar trailer, I was naturally blown away by the special effects. I was in kind of stunned awe in the same fashion as I had been, way back when, as I watched Star Wars for the first time. Special effects. It is simply amazing how complex they get over time. And how expensive to do!

So, having been drawn into Avatar by the special effects, I was wondering in what direction the movie plot was headed. Since Star Wars first emerged on the scene nearly 40 years ago, all kinds of folks have been trying to put the religious spin on it in one fashion or another. I even have a book, written shortly after Star Wars came out, that tries to draw parallels between it and Christianity. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia also have appeared as “Christian” classics. Yet I have friends who find no Christian connection in either or all. In fact one Christian friend thought I had lost my mind when I mentioned that The Lord of the Rings had Christian elements. She pointed out, rather heatedly, that it was all about magic, and the use of magic was not Christian, period. I think, as readers, we all will find different things in the books we read, whether or not the author intended those things to be so.

Is Avatar a movie with hidden Christian themes? Most Christians would say no, period. There are some portions of the movie that are very “mystic” in appearance. But I do find that there are some ‘truths’ to the movie that could be defined as such. Is the movie anti-military as some have suggested? As someone who’s spent a lot of time with the military and people engaged with the military from special ops to other things, I find that the movie is basically a depiction of your typical Blackwater Mercenary groups operating around the globe right now. Guns for hire to the highest bidder. Anti-business? I think it’s just showing the true nature of corporate greed. The financial world does revolve around capitalism, but where do you draw the line between profit and exploitation? Typical Hollywood? What is typical Hollywood, I would counter? Focusing on one thing in blatant disregard of truth or facts? Some say that about Christians, especially when we talk about creation or science.

The truth then, you say. Well, the most striking thing in Avatar to me was the similarity between what was happening to the Na’vi and their world and what happened to the Cherokee Indians during the Trail of Tears campaign. To me, this is the most poignant truth in the entire movie. There are others. One is where the Na’vi gather and pray. Of course one will say they are praying to the planet, but if one cares to look beyond that, one might see the power in prayer and that the Creator of All Things (God-Jesus) answered those prayers. I am not saying the planet is God or Jesus, but I will not split hairs about that. The truth in Avatar is its reflection of the injustice suffered upon the Cherokee people during the 1838-39 Trail of Tears campaign.
Here is a part from a blog post that I did back in January 2010 of my reaction to the trailer:

I haven’t seen Avatar yet. I will. From the trailer I couldn’t help but see a connection between what the film depicts and what actually happened in America right after Columbus. America is not a perfect country and Americans are not perfect people. America has been a generous country that helps people. But like all things, America has its dark side. The treatment of Native Americans is the dark side of America that most people want to forget. Treat it as it didn’t happen. Same way with the Holocaust. Some say that never happened. But ask a Jew, it did. The Trail of Tears is America’s holocaust. Ask a Cherokee, it happened and we must remember that fact. We must not forget that it happened.

I think as readers we all see differently and may never truly see what the author had in mind. As a writer, sometimes I’m stunned by what a reader may say about my book, besides the obvious, “I hate or love this book.” Sometimes I even have to go back and see if I really said what I said or implied something. Sometimes the reader, in my opinion, is way off base. But, that’s part of the fun of being a writer, to see what is provoked in a reader regarding what we have written, even if we did not intend for it to be so.

So, there you have it, my “truths” that I found in Avatar. It’s a great movie! Special effects are off the scale in this one. Will it be a classic like The Lord of the Rings or Narnia? I don’t know; probably not, too many “fringe things” as oppose to a clear definition of good verses evil. But isn’t real life like that? The “fringe things” kind of creep into everyday life and keep us blind to the real Truth and the real Power behind that Truth, and the Real Evil that is pulling the world apart in record fashion these days.
—excerpt from Stop & Smell the Coffee © SCM

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