Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Avatar & Community

av·a·tar  –noun
1. Hindu Mythology. the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.
2. an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.
3. Computers. a graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet.

Went to see Avatar with Feche-boy last week-end. Predictable story line, including mean militaristic Americans, a Dances with Wolves style romance and pre-requisite greenies. Despite all that, we loved it. Excellent graphics and the story was so well told we didn't mind it's predictability. We actually want to go back and do it again.

Since viewing I've been considering the movie from the angle that some people get so caught up in fantasy that they prefer it to reality. That given the choice the wonderful world of interconnected borg-like existence is a draw. Lots of folks would like to trade their disabilities for a wonderful world where they glow in the dark, effortlessly commune with the universe and ride, fly and just "see," plug in easily and tune out the stark realities of people we disagree with, problems that demand negotiations and true tragedy.

In some ways, Avatar is quite similar to The Matrix and you could certainly identify it's influence. Those who chose the blue pill can finally, really, see. It's part of an on-going discussion in our home, and kind of a joke, but in some ways not, that "you've already taken the blue pill, Neo!" Yep, some choices made, can't be taken back. And I'm considering this all within the context of some of the business books that I've been reading, and contemplating choice, determination and free will set within the context of a life of faith that banks on a reality that is greater, grander and more glorious than we are or ever will be.

Some people would call that fantasy and the pragmatic side of myself admits that they could be right. But, like I've admitted before, Puddleglum is a sort of hero round here, and the hope of Narnia, and heaven and God, beats the cold reality of this life, and any fantasy world, all hollow. So, I'm banking on it regardless. A life of faith demands discipline. Discipline to even believe, to seek truth which manifests itself in correct doctrine even when a sloppy belief system is easier to digest, to love oneself and others despite limitations, irritating bad habits and sin, to relinquish rights in favor of grace, to hope for mercy rather than true justice, to forgive ones enemies even when they deserve far less. I'm not very good at it and the stark reality of living faith rather than fantasy can be wearisome and discouraging. But every now and then I glimpse a heavenly place. It is a big. So large it contains beyond what we can imagine. It is beautiful. So glorious we'll weep in awe. It is pure. So pure, we'll know how defiled our most perfect is. It makes this world seem one-dimensional and trite. It's a place inhabited by the Holy and the dust of heaven sometimes follows me home, despite myself. It's a place I long for and know will someday be mine. It's a place I suspect lots of other are hungering for as well. A place where we'll soar, where disabilities will be healed, captives freed, sins forgiven, hunger and thirst sated. A golden city. A new Jerusalem.

I believe the Christian church has made a huge tactical error and that has to do with the fact that we suck at building and maintaining authentic on-going, heart-felt community where people don't have to hide behind avatars. Where they are accepted and loved and cared for, forgiven and sought after despite their limitations and successes. Seems as even the Internet does a better job of engaging those seeking a place to belong. As I really get a handle on what avatar means, it seems like the church in American almost demands one. Look good, be together, don't cry in public, have a need or share too much. It's too clean. It's not the mourn with those that weep and laugh out loud with those that rejoice reality that I'd hoped for years ago when I signed up. And I was hungry for that place cause I needed some people who were strong enough to cry with me and teach me to laugh out loud. I was stunted and shriveled and dying from not knowing how to do those simple things; cry and laugh. The church, from where I sit needs to ramp down the discussions of leadership and seeker sensitivity and spiritualizing everything and get back to some basics with heart-felt interpersonal connection starting simply enough by saying "hello," shaking hands, smiling, knowing each others struggles and victories, kids names and habits. Allowing people to be where they are at, accepting them there, and casting a vision for mature Godliness as Biblically mandated, not by who has the biggest wallet or cheers the loudest for the home team.
I enjoyed the 2 1/2 hour escape into fantasy land that Avatar afforded. And I'll happily admit that the creator of the film is a genius in the world of creativity. Sadly, his 2 ex and current wives, as well as those who work with him, can't say the same for his interpersonal abilities. Another example of a world that is growing increasingly technological intelligent and creatively pushing the envelope but interpersonally stunted. And certainly spiritually stunted. But maybe Avatar is part of the reason why. Fantasy replaces spirituality cause it's easier and certainly more fun. Fantasy supersedes reality. Fantasy becomes reality. And we make it up as we go.


TechWife said...

I think your comments on Christians hiding behind their avatars to be dead on. Thanks for this insightful post.

Karen said...

You are very inspiring. Your vision of the holy and divine is one of the clearest that I have heard articulated. Thank you.

rednanasteph's place said...

VEry good. You are so right@!!!!!