My friend Megan sent me a video two weeks ago that I have just now got around to watching. It is a preacher by the name of Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church ranting about how Avatar is contrary to the teachings of Christ. Now, I never knew that Avatar was presenting itself as the Christ-alternative, but perhaps I’ve missed that in the advertising. I did finally see the movie without knowing what to expect. Not only were the visual effects stunning, but I was rather pleased at how good of a job the producers did at making me believe that I wasn’t just watching another rendition of Pocahontas or Dances With Wolves.
One thing I did notice was the obvious allusion to a Pagan or Earth-centric (Pandora-centric?) belief system. There was a sense of connectedness with all living things and one’s surroundings. This preacher believes that not only is this movie promoting (that’s debatable) Paganism, it is Satanic and demonic and any good Christian should distance themselves from its poisonous effects.
Pastor Driscoll seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word “fiction.” I bet he creamed his jeans when the Harry Potter and Twilight series came out. After all, those both market themselves as convenient alternatives to Christian belief, don’t they?
Not only do I believe that this man doesn’t actually have a clue what “Pagan,” “demonic,” and “Satanic” mean, I think he thoroughly believes that his sheep will turn into James Cameron’s sheep if they see this movie. He knows that the people to whom he is speaking will swallow ideas like a fish swallows bait, which is fine, as long as it is his ideas that they are swallowing. Where I think he underestimates his huddled masses is in their ability to distinguish fiction from reality, a feat that he obviously struggles with himself.
He believes with all of his heart that mere exposure to something less-than-Christian will lead to a complete internalization of a new worldview. I could understand that if the problem was people being lured into a cult, but the problem – for him – lies in a piece of fictitious cinema. “That any Christian could watch that without seeing the overt demonism is beyond me,” he says. Aside from confusing Paganism with the fictitious demons of his own twisted beliefs, he is suggesting that Christians cannot enjoy a film which presents a different idea of god and society. They must immediately be insulted and enraged that such sacrilegious filth is even allowed in theaters.
Apparently, a film that takes place on a different planet, with a foreign indigenous species, is supposed to follow the same religion that only a fraction of our own planet follows.
“The visuals are amazing because Satan wants you to emotionally connect to the lie.” That quote alone shows that this man cannot be reasoned with in any way. He genuinely believes that Satan is working through the evil producers and directors of Hollywood to bring anti-Christian propaganda to the big screen for the sole purpose of converting all viewers to a sin-laden lifestyle.
I can’t possibly speak any more about this man’s belief that fiction is taken seriously by all that view it. He believes that people will view a fictitious lifestyle and try to reconcile it with their own religious beliefs, instead of doing what normal people do, which is regarding it as a story with moving pictures and lots of bioluminescence.
Of course to solidify that this man is a charlatan and a profiteer, he admits that he has two home theater systems and three Tivos. I’m happy for him and all, but does his congregation not realize who bought him all of that way cool stuff?