We saw the movie Avatar last night. Let me get the obligatory things out of the way:
1. If you go to the movies over the holidays, expect it to be BUSY. We arrived early, and still couldn’t get 4 seats together. I’ve never seen it so full!
2. The graphics were AMAZING. It was impossible to tell what was real/costume/CGI. (Except that obviously floating moutains aren’t real, so they must be CGI.)
3. We saw it in 2D. No funky glasses. It was so beautiful, I can only imagine that the 3D would have actually detracted from the experience.
Yes, there was a little bit of a message about protecting the environment, but the story didn’t revolve around that. The indiginous people are portrayed in a slightly stereotyped way. If you’ve ever watched NatGeo, you’ll recognize some of the ‘tribal wear’, some portions of their ceremonies, etc. But I believe that was the filmmaker’s shortcut to explaining their culture, and none of it was negative or derogatory or made them look stupid. And, of course, there was plenty of sci-fi tech and graphical eye candy and beautiful scenery and a love story – a little bit of something for everyone.
The movie made an impression on every member of our family. We all had the sense that we weren’t ready for it to end…we wanted to crawl back into the story and explore the place some more. We wanted more time to process it…there was so much beauty, so many messages.
The turning point in the movie is when Jake’s digital diary reveals to the other main characters what he has discovered about their prospect of bargaining with the Na’vi. He says “There isn’t anything of ours they want, or need.” And it is true, for the Na’vi have a direct pipeline to God. Their needs are provided for, they live in balance, they respect each other and their world, and they communicate with God. (They don’t have medicine and roads and technology and committees and science, but they don’t need them.) Jake experiences this as he lives with them, joins them in it, and even prays and has his prayer answered. The message here, at least the one that has struck me, is more about the Na’vi’s experience of God. It is the very picture of how our church should be – in direct contact with God, treasuring that contact, appealing to it, respecting it. And the result is that anyone who spends any time with the Na’vi, comes to want what the Na’vi have. This is the effect our church should have. Jake is told he is special and chosen. He is paired with a mentor. The mentor takes time to understand who Jake really is, and what his gifts are. He is taught their way of living by experiencing it, is tested, and is invited when he is ready to join. Eventually, he comes to be a leader. Is this the experience people have joining your church?
When people look at you, at your church, do they have the sense that you have everything you could need or want…and does it make them want to have what you have?