Avatar blues

Some say it’s just a knock-off of Disney’s Pocahontas.

Others claim it’s simply Ferngully redone, or just an ode to Dances with Wolves. The guys at the Vatican are calling it “simple and bland.”

I haven’t seen it, so you won’t find a review of the second biggest grossing movie of all time here (at least not yet). But I’ve heard something quite interesting about Avatar that provokes me to share a word of warning. If you see it, you might need to schedule an appointment with your therapist or even join a support group afterwards.

Apparently the world of Pandora is so magically portrayed in this high-tech splendor that folks who see it don’t want to return to the real world. They are overcome with emotions ranging from depression to despair. Pandora is so beautiful, they say, so perfect and balanced and peaceful and true, that the real world they enter upon leaving the theater becomes nothing more than a gray, bleak desolate land without hope.

Forums have sprung up on which distraught viewers share their angst. Consider this disturbing quote:

In another forum a user wrote: ‘When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed grey. It just seems so meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep doing things at all. I live in a dying world.’ Other fans are even more affected by the situation, reported The Daily Telegraph, with one posting: ‘I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.’

I’ve left movie theaters many times, my hands still greasy from the yummy popcorn, squinting into a bright afternoon sun. Sometimes I’ve felt challenged by what I’ve seen, sometimes saddened or shocked. But I’ve never left a theater wishing that I lived in a world that existed only on a screen.

The world we live in is harsh and cold and filled with sin. There is untold suffering (please pray for our Haitian brothers and sisters) and pain around every corner. We live in a world in which innocent children die and guilty men go free. It’s a fallen, ugly place.

It’s also indescribably beautiful.

It’s a world in which vast and glorious oceans are filled with exotic creatures. It’s a land on which billions of snowflakes fall, each one of them intricate and unique. Here on Earth we are gifted with opportunities for joy every day, chances real, not contrived, to see beauty if only we will open our eyes.

The created world is truly magnificent, but I argue that our true splendor lies in each human heart and soul. There God is clearly reflected. Made in His Image, we are also each too beautiful for words.

This is not Pandora. Earth is far more wonderful, because it is real.

The depression some feel when they leave the artificial, virtual Pandora is an expression of the longing in each human heart: the longing to return home to God.
Our world is beautiful, it is true. But far more beautiful is the place God has prepared for us.

Rather than turning to pop mythology, to Hollywood “heroes” and cultural icons, hearts will only find peace when they seek God. While we’re waiting for Heaven, we need to look around and see the reflection of the Creator in His magnificent handiwork.

Start by looking in the mirror. Then look at your neighbor. Then look out your window.

It’s not Pandora. But it’s real. It’s here. And it’s ours.

Let’s take care of it, and of one another. And someday Pandora will pale in comparison to what we’ll see.

But as it is written: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,”
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. Corinthians 2:9-10

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