The Word on the Week

Avatar 23rd January 2010

This film, from the director who gave us “Titanic” is the hottest thing to hit the science fiction world. Aided with 3D glasses audiences can see where the $280 million went in making the film and the Director’s bankers can see the $1 billion it netted in the first 17 days! It is impossible not to be fascinated and enthralled by this action-filled vision of adventure and battles in an iridescent jungle on an alien planet, where hideous, dragon-like creatures appear to leap off the screen, flora and fauna wave in the air and a heroic avatar does battle with a pterodactyl-like beast before subduing it and soaring off on its back. This is Pandora, an Earthlike-planet with a lush rainforest environment, trees a thousand feet tall, floating mountains and an abundance of life forms, some beautiful and some terrifying. Into this new world our hero, Jake, is sent on a spying mission. Here the natives, the tall blue-skinned “Na’vi”, (navy blue perhaps!) have long resisted the miners from earth trying to plunder their land for the valuable mineral Unobtainium. Borrowing from Hinduism where Avatars are incarnations sent to earth by Hindu deities and in his artificially-grown alien body, our ‘Avatar’ Jake must go among the Na’vi, learn their ways, and win their trust. The idea that he might do them wrong is upset when he falls in love with a 10 foot beauty. As he becomes increasingly involved with her and her clan he finds himself caught between the military and industrial forces of Earth and the Na’vi, who are increasingly threatened by human expansion on Pandora. Jake wants a cause. Can this extraterrestrial girl teach him something? “All I ever wanted was a single thing worth fighting for” he says. Well he gets plenty of fighting when he chooses to side with the Na’vi! Then there is the big white tree. It represents Mother Nature and is the life force of all the animals and plants on the planet. It also bonds the Na’vi with nature and must be protected. If it dies Pandora is doomed. The Bible teaches that salvation did not originate in nature but in revelation. The grand narrative of our salvation is not found in worshipping nature, but in God’s interventions in redemptive history. They do, however, culminate with a tree, or rather with the One who was hung on it. It is through faith in the atoning death of Jesus that we have life. Life that is not dependant on nature but on the forgiveness of our sins and our adoption into God’s family for ever. As St Peter put it in his letter to the churches: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned unto the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.