Monday, December 28, 2009

Avatar & Eywa: Looking at Deity, Pantheism and Justice

Carl McColman, over at the Website of Unknowing, recently wrote a brilliant and thought-provoking review of the film, Avatar, and I for one find it refreshing to see a Catholic who can think deeply about spiritual themes in the film without a knee-jerk reaction against pantheism and Pagan undertones. On the other hand, his analysis of the film as an inspiring blending of Christian and Pagan theological insight, in which Christianity brings a sense of personal grace and redemptive justice to the earthy but impersonal spirit-web of Eywa-consciousness possessed by the natives, is one that I think overstates the overt role that Christianity plays in the film, and ignores the flaws in the film's portrayal of pantheism.

At the same time, his review replays the kind of thinking that early Christian theologians used when seeking converts from indigenous pagan faiths two millennia ago, playing up the apparent lack of justice and personal deliverance in pantheist/animist religions that supposedly offered an individual no spiritual aid or redemption when confronted with suffering and sin. This isn't surprising, since McColman himself was a practicing Pagan for a while before converting to Catholicism and working deeply in the lay monastic tradition of the Church; he would be intimately familiar with the struggle to find justice and personal meaningfulness (i.e. salvation) in a Pagan context, and more honest than most Pagans probably are about how great that struggle can be at times. This is an argument still used in the Catholic Church today to explain why pantheism is inherently inadequate as a spiritual tradition, and even dangerous as it undermines faith in a personal, omnipotent God who both dispenses justice and offers personal salvation through faith.

Having seen the movie myself, twice, over the holidays, I've been planning on writing some kind of response anyway, but McColman's review prompted a comment that grew, and grew, and grew, until I found I had written something far too long to be Comment #12 on his blog. So here is the (somewhat rambling) response provoked by his musings. Please visit his post and read his wonderful take on the film which, even if I disagree with its focus at times, is still incredibly intelligent, creative and syncretic.

Carl, I find your insights thought-provoking, and it's refreshing to see a Catholic diving into the spiritual implications of the movie without immediately putting up defenses against pantheism, but I think I agree with Emily (a previous commenter) that, if there is any Christianity in the film at all, it's incredibly understated and I don't think it holds as prominent a place as you give it. In fact, what struck me about Grace Augustine (the head scientist of the avatar program on Pandora) as the "wisdom-holder" of the humans was just how secular and scientific she was. She was the kind of character that, despite her name, I could easily imagine laughing off the idea of any sort of God (she "doesn't believe in fairy tales," either), and indeed when studying the biological interconnection among the trees and animals, she dismisses the idea that it is anything other than materialist in nature (rather than some nonmaterial "Pagan voodoo"). Seeing this materialism, along with her chain-smoking, as just a way in which she's a "sinner" needing to be redeemed is reading a very Christian interpretation of the movie. The idea of grace as spiritual relationship is not a uniquely Christian concept; and for all we know, the reference to Augustine may be intended to invoke not inherent Christianity, but the sense of determinism or lack of free will, something found often in materialism and, perhaps, an appropriate philosophical point to contemplate when we consider the nature of avatars as empty bodies to be used by some outside controlling force. All in all, I was more surprised by the lack of Christianity, and so I feel your review overstates its importance.

And perhaps that's not entirely unfair, considering it was written and produced in, by and for a predominantly Christian culture that certainly takes particular concepts for granted. For instance, the "connection" between Na'vi and animal is not one of mutual communion (as you might expect in a truly pantheistic spiritual tradition), but of domination, so that the beast itself (whose eyes dilate as though drugged) becomes an avatar for the thinking, self-aware and (implicitly) superior humanoid beings. When Eywa sends these animals in attack against foreign invaders, it's obvious that She is acting not as an ecological body (the way Gaia is conceived here on planet Earth), but as a directing mind (this is made explicit when Grace compares the trees' connections to the neurons in a human brain). But I think this, rather than being a blending of Christian and Pagan perspectives, is just a failure of a mainstream monotheistic culture (accustomed to the Cartesian duality between mind and body) to truly grasp and accurately portray real Pagan pantheism.

Seeking representations of real pantheism in the movie, Eywa's responsiveness as a self-aware ecological body is present throughout (though I suspect mostly by accident) and does not need to subsume or incorporate Grace (and her Christian/sky-people concept of justice) to act justly. When Jake-as-avatar must fend for himself his first night in the jungle, for instance, he is surrounded by vicious six-legged glowing hyena-like predators. Few would consider the hyenas killing Jake as an act of justice, and yet it's clear that Neytiri views their deaths as a kind of injustice for which grief, not thanks, are in order. It seemed to me, watching this scene, to be the most accurate portrayal of pantheistic attitude in the film. Here, the predators act in a manner akin to the white blood cells of the body, recognizing a foreign invader and defending the "body" of the jungle by attacking and consuming it in order to integrate it. (Notice the hyenas don't bother the natives, who are a part of the balanced ecosystem; this might be mere naive Noble Savage idealism, if not for the nifty neuron-tendrils that all the animals possess, implying that they are all potentially tapped into an awareness that functions as a single whole.) This is a kind of justice that relies on integrating opposing forces and seeking and maintaining a living balance, which is different from the punitive/reparative justice commonly found in Christianity and practically inherent in the notion of salvation. The final battle in which Eywa sends Her animals out to defeat the human's raping machinery is actually a departure from the pantheistic portrayal of Eywa up until that point, though I suspect the film-makers knew quite well that it is a more exciting climax than a body slowly fighting off disease, not to mention more intuitively comprehensible and more palatable to a Western, largely-monotheistic audience.

But I admit, by the end of the movie even I wanted Eywa to respond, to participate in some meaningful way in the defense of Pandora. After all, if Eywa is something real in any meaningful sense, She must be capable of response, capable of making some kind of difference in the lives of the suffering, threatened Na'vi. After all, it is clear by the end that to defend the balance of life must also mean to protect that life, all life, from slowly being extinguished all-together by human mining operations. Yet the animals Eywa sends into battle are not like the Huorns, the trees of the forests of Fangorn (in Lord of the Rings), who move spontaneously and mysteriously as free agents to reclaim land that has been cleared and reassert a natural balance. The kind of earth-response in Avatar is, well, remote-controlled, and I see this as a flaw, not as a hopeful message about the fruitful blending of Christian and Pagan traditions to the benefit of both. Surely such blending is possible, and Avatar may inspire some movie-goers to seek in themselves the connections of spirit that can make such blending a meaningful and authentic reality. But the film itself is not yet an example of this, and I think on the whole we as a culture have a long way to go.

UPDATE: 31 December 2009 Carl was kind enough to post a reply to my reply on his own blog, "Pandora, Ken Wilber and William Blake" and I have since replied in the comments section of that post. However, for those of you following along, I am sharing it here as well. I hope it sums up some points that I left unspoken or only implied in the above review (I'm particularly proud of the penultimate paragraph, if I do say so myself!).

Carl, Thanks for such a lengthy and detailed reply! We've quite a conversation going on, and I'm sorry for not having the chance to get back to it until now!

I wanted to clear up one thing right away that I think may have been lost in my post and so led to some confusion in your reply. I was not saying that there was something inherently wrong with monotheism, or that Cameron should have toned down the monotheistic assumptions in the film in general (these, like I said, were hardly avoidable, and in any case probably necessary to be palatable to an American audience). What concerns me is the portrayal of the Na'vi culture--a literally alien culture, the very definition of Other-ness, and also fairly obviously meant to represent various native/tribal religions on this planet--in ways that were inaccurate. Avatar is not a "Neopagan's dream," for there is very little actual, accurate pantheism in it anywhere (and of course nowhere is there any suggestion of gasp! polytheism, or even an ecology of spirits and other nonmaterial beings). Indeed, the Na'vi culture is in many ways a poor caricature, an example of what most Westerns think shamanic, indigenous, earth-centered spiritualities are like. Here we have not the interesting blending of two unique perspectives, but the dominant monotheistic culture projecting an "Other" outward in distorted and inaccurate ways. As I mentioned in my own post, what little honest-to-goodness pantheism there is in the movie looks accidental, just the haphazard result of trying to portray the Na'vi as strange and the planet Pandora as wild; and for that reason it is incoherent and full of contradictions.

The hyenas' death is an excellent example. If the hyenas are acting in keeping with the sacred balance in their function as predators that both protect from and consume/integrate foreign elements, then why did the seeds of the Sacred Tree stop Neytiri from killing Jake, and why did Neytiri decide to save him? The question of why natural forces and individuals within nature sometimes work in tension with or even in seeming contradiction to one another (whether in an ecosystem, or an individual organism) is a Mystery-capital-M in pantheistic spirituality, one that a person can spend her whole life grappling with and feeling her way through as a way of seeking towards truth and balance. But in Avatar, it's a contradiction grasped just barely enough to be a joke, to bely a secret attraction between characters and expose the funny backwardness of Na'vi thinking when called out by a straight-shooting-averge-Joe-kinda-guy like Jake.

The ready submission of animals to the Na'vi (which I still believe, though admittedly on very subtle clues throughout the film, to be another intentional invocation of the avatar-as-empty-shell leitmotif) is another example of Cameron making a drastic misstep. Here we are meant to believe that the Na'vi have some sacred connection to the animals, sensual and even affectionate in nature, yet the animals offer no unique personalities of their own during the process of mind-meeting-mind. In actual shamanic traditions throughout the world, animals are most definitely conceived of as possessing unique and in no way inferior spirits. In fact, illness and pain even within the body itself are often experienced or conceived of as powerful monsters, insects or beasts that must be battled and overcome through ritual and inner journey work; all the more so animals and beings beyond the body that participate in a complex landscape of spirit. The idea of creative, loving communion with such beings may be more Neopagan than ancient pagan in flavor, true, but the basic conception of these creatures as separate and independent, putting up resistance and seeking their own wills apart from those of "superior" humans, is found within both, and is not reflected at all in Cameron's portrayal of the Na'vi spirituality.

My concern is that while monotheistic assumptions persist even among characters who are explicitly atheist, even in a plot that hinges largely on secular science and the savior-like role of technology... pantheism is not simply left out of the equation, but portrayed in ways that are, in fact, mostly monotheistic as well. So what we get is a comfortable, familiar-feeling "Pantheism(TM)" stepping in to save the day when traditional monotheistic religions have begun to taste stale, unbelievable or irrelevant, bringing a breath of fresh exotic air and a warm-fuzzy reminder that life is connected and sacred (something the mystic threads of the monotheistic traditions know very well already). The truth is, the challenges, paradoxes and mysteries of pantheism are as deep, puzzling and ultimately fulfilling as any monotheism, and to reduce them to a sidekick of Western postmodernity is saddening, and not the least bit frustrating. Especially when most reviewers, including yourself, mistake Cameron's portrayal as somehow a Pagan "dream" come true. I am all for interfaith dialogue and the fruitful integration and living-together of different traditions. But before we begin our blending, I think it is utterly important that we strive to understand what those differences actually are, and accept no pale caricatures in their place. Otherwise, what we are doing is not integrating, but imposing. While a rose is a rose is a rose, to look at another spiritual tradition through rose-colored glasses, paint a rose-colored picture and then try to pass it off as the real thing is just not something I willing to settle for.

Should Cameron have done better? He was trying to make a Box Office Smash, nothing deeper than that. Should reviewers and critics of the movie point out the flaws and inaccuracies, lest they pass into our culture as "common knowledge" taken for granted? Yes, most definitely.


  1. I still haven't seen the film, but I am intrigued by your take on the whole thing, especially as your spiritual journey has gone in the opposite direction to Carl's. I must go and see it - reactions from Pagans and post-Pagans have been highly varied, though most agree that Hollywood is shallow (no surprises there, really).

  2. Yewtree, I was thinking about that earlier today, about Carl's discovery of Catholic mysticism, and how there is a great deal of that mysticism that I learned while very young and that, when I tried to fully live it, led me deep within but then out the other side, to a place where Christian monotheism no longer made sense to me. Yet I don't remember going through a period of rejecting it, more just (o gosh, I'll be in trouble if I say "outgrowing it," won't I?).... It's something I want to think about more. Which is why I always read Carl's posts: they tend to provoke memories and contemplations of how I used to think and believe, and give me perspective on how and why I've changed. :)

    I'll be interested in hearing your take on the movie once you've had a chance to see it. :) I feel in a lot of ways what message of sacred embodiment and earth-rooted spiritual connection was in it was fundamentally undermined not only by the spectacle of the thing on-screen, but by all the cross-marketing (which I was mostly spared until after my first viewing but still very much colored my second viewing) that could only have served to super-saturate the audience with its images so that they lost some of their impact and implications on the full screen. I mean, when McDonalds ads try their best to psychologically link the image of digging toes into the earth with the image of digging teeth into a hamburger.... well, it makes me sad, is all.

  3. How many times has the JudaeoChristian God actually intervened in any verifiable way to save either humans or the planet? Given the paucity of evidence here, and how troubling the Problem of Evil is to our JudaeoChristian brethren, just what precisely are they claiming as their advantage? The fact that in both cases, no one intervenes, but at least in theirs you can delude yourself into thinking someone might?

  4. I've seen the movie and loved it, hoping that it sparks the intuitive side of those who have lost touch with the living world that we share.

    Pantheism itself begins to make rational sense once you fit a big missing piece back into the cosmic jigsaw puzzle. This is the conscious Sun, something intuitively recognized by every culture until the Church, not science, forcibly erased it. What brings life to our bodies is energy. Stars make their own energy fields as they release the light of life to the likes of us. Everything from an atom upwards has an energy field. Dive deeper at www - sunofgod - net

  5. Thanks for giving me all sorts of food for thought. More to come on my blog, either tonight or tomorrow.



  6. Siegfried, a question for you: are you suggesting that Neopagans are not troubled by the "Problem of Evil"? In my experience, most Neopagans are deeply concerned about sexism, homophobia, the despoiling of the environment, or at the very least, their own personal suffering, obstacles and limitations. As far as I can tell, these kinds of concerns are very much akin to Christian questions of theodicy, even if Pagans or others might eschew "Evil" as a metaphysical concept. A rose by any other name...

  7. GregChaos, Your comment reminded me of something I read recently on a Feri Witchcraft board, a discussion of the Iron Pentacle practice and its relationship to the elemental spectrum of stars. Iron is produced within stars during the final stage before collapse, because the fusion of iron consumes energy instead of releasing it; eventually, the core of the star becomes so heavy with iron that it can no longer support its own mass. Folks pointed out that, as faeries are often associated with the stars or referred to as sky- or star-people, this might explain why iron is traditionally understood to be lethal to them. On the other hand, all the heavier elements (including iron) necessary for a planet to support life are produced by dying stars, so iron is also a grounding element, a kind of turning point between star-energy and earthy-matter.

    I'm not sure if this is the type of thinking you were getting at, but it does make sense to me that a thriving, comprehensive pantheism cannot stop at the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. There must be a place for sun, stars, galaxies, and even the emptiness between.

  8. Siegfried (and Carl),

    If I understand it correctly, the "Problem of Evil" in monotheistic traditions like Christianity can be stated roughly as: If God is all-good and all-loving, then why is there suffering in the world? If God is omnipotent, why does He allow bad things to happen, especially to good people?

    I would agree that Pagans don't have to deal with this question in precisely these terms, simply because most of them don't believe in a single, all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful deity. But that's not to say they don't struggle with the reality of suffering, loss, grief, death and injustice. Most Pagans I know are supremely concerned about social and environmental justice, as Carl points out, as well as confronting their own limitations and "inner demons." I would go so far as to say that, in place of the Judeo-Christian "Problem of Evil" as its widely known, Pagans must confront the "Problem of Justice," i.e. If there is no all-knowing supreme being against whom we can measure right and wrong, how do we determine what is just? How do we understand justice and act justly without reference to an ultimate higher authority? Or, in other words, If nature is sacred, then who I am "naturally" is sacred--how do I reconcile striving for self-betterment with an acceptance of nature as already perfect?

    Just like the problem of evil allowed by a perfectly-just, perfectly-loving God is a Mystery, and one practically irreconcilable for many Christians, for Pagans the balance between accepting the nature of what-is as sacred and striving for a better world (without falling back on anthropocentric arrogance) is an on-going struggle which is also, itself, a Mystery.

  9. Thanks, Ali. Beautifully said. I suppose I am not one of those Christians who worries too much about the "Problem of Evil" in a philosophical/metaphysical sense, mainly because I tend to be very comfortable with mystery, contradiction and paradox in my approach to religion and spirituality. In other words, I'm far more concerned with the fact that there are needlessly hungry people in the world than in trying to figure out if it makes sense to believe in one God (or not) in the light of such evil.

  10. I haven't seen the movie yet, but am really looking forward to it. I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to movies like Avatar, so I imagine I'll love it, but we'll see.

    The discussions about its pantheist overtones has me intrigued. Some love it, some hate it - but all for the same reasons.

    I haven't stopped by for a while Ali (if you even remember me). This seemed like a good post to rectify that. :)

  11. It was a great movies.. had a great emotion.. the act was good too... ^^

  12. I watched the movie Avatar recently and read your criticism of it with great interest. While I agree with most of it I wonder if perhaps we’re being a bit harsh. Just how deeply can one delve into a vast topic such as pantheism or nature-centered spirituality in a 3 hour movie, especially one targeting a mainstream audience? (I had similar qualms with Dances with Wolves, but still enjoyed it as a movie.) What impressed me about Avatar was just how many issues the film took on while still managing to be engaging and entertaining. One issue that interested me was how it challenged our hyper-masculine, military-worshipping culture, which is a pretty daring thing to do in this time of unending war, post-9/11. The marine commander was a familiar figure to movie-goers, a kind of Rambo in space. He would be the hero in a typical Hollywood war flick but here he’s clearly the villain. In men’s circles we would call him the poisoned warrior, one who has rejected the tempering wisdom of the King. (In the final battle with Jake he operates a machine that looks like a robot with no head). Jake starts out as one of these poisoned warriors (although one could argue that he was already on the path of humility, having lost the use of his legs.) The film then is a story of his initiation into a goddess-centered culture, where masculine and feminine energies are more balanced. His transformation is complete when he is literally reborn, having given up his old self (body, mind and spirit) to become a Na’vi. While many see Christian overtones here, I think it is equally Pagan. I was reminded of the myth of Inanna, who shed her physical self as a necessary step in her journey to the underworld and initiation into the mysteries. I’d be interested in hearing more thoughts about this.

  13. Horacio Hannah1/11/2010 2:32 PM

    Interesting stuff eh? To Ali, a few words on the topic of "how do I reconcile striving for self-betterment with an acceptance of nature as already perfect?" First, i doubt much of anything is lost by getting rid of the habit that "nature" is "perfect." A person, religious or not, can still respect "nature" for what it is without having to qualify "nature" as a thing of "perfection." Not to mention, the habit of considering "nature" as perfect, which drags around a large amount of positively biased baggage to start, can also be viewed as a misunderstanding of "nature" itself, unless of course by "perfect" a person means "being true to the self." In this way, even a human being can be "perfect" if that person is able to find a way to be true to themselves. And thus a person who is being true to themselves is then being "natural" because they are simply fulfilling what they are around to do and what they choose to do. So a person who is striving for self-betterment, which almost inevitably will result in "changing" of the self and also changing of the world about the self, is in no way contradicting the "natural" state of things, especially if what we are means being creatures or beings that are equipped to create change. I mean, otherwise, "nature" is not "perfect," at least not perfectly efficient, because how could it have "allowed" creatures capable of such changes to have come to life in the first place?

    On top of this, for someone like myself who has no belief in "God" or "god's", the issue of "justice" is closely related to this idea of being "true" to the self because the question of "what is just, or right and wrong?" starts to evaporate and is replaced with "What do i choose to do and why?" At the end of the day, a person would have a tough time arguing with me that one action is right and another is wrong because these concepts/habits, albeit useful on certain scales, are actually rather inhibiting and harmful as you "progress" as a person. This "right and wrong" habit also places less stress on considering the consequences of an action or choice and so people begin to un-learn how to consider why they would want to do one thing over another. Because eventually a cautious person will come around and start asking enough questions to bring both parties to a point of having to say, "Well, i don't know for sure, but the information and experiences that i have along with all the other stuff i believe tells me this. And because of that, i choose to believe or do that." While this may be jarring for some and confusing to most, the only thing left at the end is a not-so-simple choice to be a particular way by an individual, a choice that results in the creation of a change in the world, or "nature," and perhaps then, this act of choosing and learning to make choices, learning to "be" that is, is how one truly pays respect to "nature." Because even if a "God" or other deity/deities tell you to behave a certain way or be a certain way, you, as an individual, still have the choice to say, "Why?" or even, if you have the stomach for such defiance, "No." And on a related note, one can then skip over to the idea of how being an individual true to one's self actually brings you closer to the whole (if you believe in the universe or everything that is as an interconnected whole). And so, paradoxically, only by being a stronger self do you start to be "true" to the "nature" of the whole, as opposed to the idea of trying to "lose" one's self to the whole...

  14. Horacio Hannah1/11/2010 2:38 PM

    ...And as one of your reader's points out, I think asking questions that are more useful than others is very important here, and unfortunately most people get sidelined with very abstract discussions of, "Well, if a 'God' does exist, can that 'God' make a weight that it cannot even lift?" This detracts from more important, and i think more interesting, questions like, "Well, even if 'God' or 'gods' do exist, do i agree with what they have to say and do i choose to act in accordance with their suggestions?" And if not, then what? Do you have an alternate path to follow? Are you strong enough and prepared enough to create your own path? And the same goes for issues like, "Well, is such and such an act 'just'?" Because perhaps the issue is not whether the act or idea is "just", but rather is it an act or idea that you want to spend energy on in order to birth or nurture that idea's existence in the world. And if it is, how do you bring that choice into being and even sustain that choice? (all questions that have no direct answer in general, but more so for the individual). Nice post though. :)

  15. Where does exactly the name "Eywa" come from? Does anybody know? To my ear it sounds like Gaia, or Gea (my own name, I'm quite proud!).
    In my humble opinion, I see Eywa according to the Stoic philosophical doctrine: on one hand she emanates inside every natural being, like in a web connection; on the other hand she orders the universe through a sort of "reason", from the outside.
    The previous comments are really interesting- though I'm for pantheism.
    Anyway Avatar is a mind-blowing film in all senses. Love Neytiri as well!!!

  16. Anonymous: Halfway through the film, I realized that "Ey'wa" is meant to be a re-pronunciation of "Yahweh". The name "yahweh" is based on the sound of breathing, with the idea that God breathes life into all things.

  17. It was suggested by Carl McColman (and perhaps others) that Eywa is a reordering of the name "Yahweh"--but if it is, I suspect it's only the cultural subconscious reasserting itself as the film-makers asked themselves what kind of word would "sound like a good name for a goddess." I may be wrong, of course, but I tend to assume less rather than more careful thinking on the part of major-blockbuster movie-makers. Suggestions that the name sounds very similar to Gaia, the Greek earth goddess, has just as much legitimacy (and if there was any intention at all, perhaps it was to purposefully choose a name that sounded similar both to a Pagan goddess and to the Judeo-Christian god, to appeal to the broadest audience possible).

  18. I think Eywa sounds more like Awen than anything else. And by gosh, you communicate with her via a tree. How much more Druid-y can you get?


  19. Good posts, all, but perhaps you are thinking both too hard and too little about the intentions of James Cameron. In the movie book, "The Art of Avatar," it says that Cameron first conceived of this film back in 1995 and in an explosion of thought, wrote it in a manner of three weeks - a monumental task given its complexity - in a fit of what seemed like automatic writing. I have, in my own writing, experienced a similar "fit" and can say that, if true, he was not thinking much about whether or not this would make a box office smash, but rather was allowing the release of something which he admitted had been building in him for the majority of his life. Personally, I think he's inadvertantly opened just a little more the idea of planetary consciousness, something that Joseph Campbell would have thought of as the new mythology that we've been waiting for. As Christianity slowly becomes more and more a capitalist humanism, and as the exploitation of the earth has been coming into the public eye more and more with the talk of global warming as reality, we are seeing the communal response from humanity in need of a singular, earth-friendly idea, a reconnection to our world in a way we haven't experienced in a long time. Avatar, at least in the boudaries of its experience, gives us on an emotional level a twinkling communion with that idea. I wish more of us saw our world in a similar light as the Na'vi see theirs.

  20. Funny you should say that, because i think that perhaps you are thinking both too hard and too little about the intentions of James Cameron. In the movie book, "The Art of Avatar," it says that Cameron first conceived of this film back in 1995 and in an explosion of thought, wrote it in a manner of three weeks - a monumental task given its complexity - in a fit of what seemed like automatic writing. I have, in my own writing, experienced a similar "fit" and can say that, if true, he was not thinking much about whether or not this would make a box office smash, but rather was allowing the release of something which he admitted had been building in him for the majority of his life. Personally, I think he's inadvertantly opened just a little more the idea of planetary consciousness, something that Joseph Campbell would have thought of as the new mythology that we've been waiting for. As Christianity slowly becomes more and more a capitalist humanism, and as the exploitation of the earth has been coming into the public eye more and more with the talk of global warming as reality, we are seeing the communal response from humanity in need of a singular, earth-friendly idea, a reconnection to our world in a way we haven't experienced in a long time. Avatar, at least in the boudaries of its experience, gives us on an emotional level a twinkling communion with that idea. I wish more of us saw our world in a similar light as the Na'vi see theirs.

  21. Actually you are completely wrong. I have met James Cameron and I asked the question on "Grace Augustine" and he stated to me and all others present it was a direct interpretation of Saint Augustine. If you read, City of God, which obviously you didn't you would get it. But, alas I see you are very narrow-minded. Sorry, but get a clue...or maybe an actual education.

  22. Anna, Actually, I have read City of God, as well as Augustine's Confessions (since you brought it up, I happen to have graduated valedictorian from one of the top twenty-five liberal arts colleges in the country — my degree was in comparative religious studies). Simply because I was, apparently, wrong about one movie director's intentions doesn't mean I am uneducated or "narrow-minded." Please be more respectful and less insulting in future comments here. Your insights and opinions are valued, as are everyone's, but personal attacks are inappropriate no matter how strongly you might disagree with my perspective.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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