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Tuesday
Mar162010

Avatar vs. Humanity

We saw Avatar in 3D the other day.  I hate to say it, but I LOVED the first few minutes where I felt physically transported into a fabulous new world. I felt completely surrounded by trees and jungle and tall blue people. I could feel the sun on my face and hear the blue people whispering behind me. Even though my seat got a little uncomfortable after the first 2 hours, I remained captivated right up until I took the glasses off, walked out into a dreary Minnesota day and hopped into my car with brake and transmission problems. You know what the real message of Avatar was—the one beyond the whole “Pocahontas on steroids” thing—that being an Avatar was cool.  In fact, it was better than being human.

I listened to Dr. Carla Dahl give a presentation on human sexuality the other day at Bethel University and she made some very insightful observations about how we are becoming increasingly separated from our human bodies. It becomes all too easy to make decisions about our body that we hope don’t impact our soul.

This dualist way of thinking is nothing new.  So what is the problem? What do we lose when we trade in a holistic approach to living for a brave new world made up of avatars and art? Doesn’t our human body simply slow us down and get in the way?  By substituting an “uber” reality for the limiting reality of dirt, disability, and disappointment, don’t we gain a new freedom and control?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure scripture agrees with the Avatar approach.  We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our strength.  There is value in a holistic, focused approach to life. As much as our body slows us down, it makes us who we are. As much as our real-life social context might limit us, God put us with these people for a reason.  James Cameron can’t artificially create human presence—no matter how cool the 3D glasses look.  Our humanity is something that can only be shared with one another by being there.  Sometimes it is important to turn off the television, flip off the phone, log off the computer, take out the ear buds and reconnect with the things that make us truly human.