Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar Christmas

Normally during the Christmas season I write an uncomfortable reflection about Jesus as God with us.
I then get some nasty responses from people who think that Jesus is bunk and we all return to life as before. What makes Christianity different than other monotheistic faiths is that that God entered into history, lived with us died for us and knows what it means to be us he chose to make all creation sacred.
The Christian idea of God With Us- Immanuel makes allot of things sacred. God chose to be one of us and bless his creation. Destroying His creation and his creatures wantonly is a sin. The sin is Gluttony. This is the best argument I find with right wingers who argue against protecting the natural world. If you are in favor of unjust wars, environmental degradation, and violence then it seems that you are in fact contrary to what God ordained and you are among other things a glutton.
Christians throughout history have chosen to ignore what God ordained by his Incarnation and embrace gluttony and sin. They have justified all manner of evil. A few have chosen to make gentleness and reverence for Creation important and reject gluttony- St Francis, Charles de Foucoult, Bartolome de Las Casas, Menno Simons and today the New Monastics come to mind. But normally we get tomes about "sexual purity" or "morals" and nothing about the sin of Gluttony that kills millions of people, animals and plants every minute of every day.
Yesterday, I went to see the new movie Avatar. Normally movies are experienced and then I move on but I cannot get the images and ideas of this film out of my mind. The film is a conviction of our world as it is today a world of Gluttons.
Forgetting about the fabulous images and special effects Avatar is an advocacy film of the first order. It challenges gluttony against the natural world and makes it very clear what is wrong with our current Capitalist/Industrial model. The mining scene in the movie evokes the copper mines of Chile and the Tin Mines of Bolivia. The attitudes of the humans in story are very close to many business executives I have known in my life- get the money, walk over anything, rape, pillage and forget about the consequences Gluttony of the first order rather than the kind of husbandry and care.
The difference between someone who cares for and cherishes people and land and water and air and makes the world a better place and those who will consume everything and then dump their garbage in the sea. It is not evil to make money but in the service of money much evil has been done and it is not wrong to point that out and ask is it necessary?
Avatar argues that the created world is sacred and should be cherished and respected rather than used until destroyed. This is an incarnational way of seeing the world and fits well into this season of Christmas. Avatar exposes the lie that we can do whatever we want with the created world.
It also makes real what happens everyday in our world vis a vis our environment. The fact is that our current Capitalist/Industrial is not only destroying our world but it is in fact sinful is lay ed out on the screen and it disturbing in the way Holocaust films are disturbing.
Avatar makes its world view very clear. It also evokes what happened in the past when those who were more powerful got what they wanted. You feel that you are seeing the destruction of the Incas and the carnage of Potosi again. You feel like you watching the African Slave trade and the destruction of the millions of Hispanola again and you want to cry out. It is not a naive evocation of a "nature people" as some have said. So many times we patronize native peoples for example as more in touch with nature and that is really false. The Capitalists are not always evil but since gluttony is rewarded capitalism makes these evils possible.
Avatar says everything should not be exploited and we should not be gluttons. This message will probably be shouted down by those who think that gluttony is all necessary to make our lives more efficient and more profitable you know the "Greed is Good" Crowd. They have been in Washington opposing Health Reform, Environmental Reform and more. I am surprised we have not had entire Glenn Beck programs about the evils of Avatar but that must be coming soon.
I for one was moved. I could see my heroes people like Dorothy Day, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, John Muir and others saying to the screen yes, yes that is what God wants. I hope the message penetrated better because of the 3D and the digital images but it is still the same message .... Immanuel God With Us

1 comment:

Panos said...

Doesn't spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a film like Avatar constitute gluttony? I fail to see how the makers of this movie could present such a wonderful message as the Irascible Poets claims and still miss this point. That is, that it is okay waste hundreds of millions of dollars in order to say the world is sacred instead of putting that money into the actual preservation of this sacred world. It is not a paradox or contradiction, when one keeps in mind that the movie was made for gain. Gluttony breeds gluttony, bad tree bears bad fruit. That is the moral of Avatar.