Friday, January 01, 2010

"I See You"

This is the greeting of the Na'vi, the people of Pandora in the movie Avatar. Carol, Mary, and I saw the 3D version last night, and it is a spectacular event.

"I see you." Oh, to be seen! Oh, to be seen, and not hide ourselves from each other, from God, and from our own self-consciousness.

But that is the question, isn't it? Who do we think we are? How do others perceive us? The Na'vi greeting suggests that these people "get it." They see each other and themselves as they are, and accept each other in their special sort of nakedness. In addition, they see the "natural" world as it mainly is, in its connectedness, in their connection to it (or among it, as part of its "network"), and in the "deity" that is at its center, a God who not only generates the life force (a familiar sci-fi conceit) but who also generates personal works of redemption, works that give people from our world new bodies, that makes them new creatures.

The central metaphor for our not being sure who we are is the ability of the protagonists to move from one body (the human) to a new body, their "avatar," a body that is strangely beautiful and close to perfect. At first, I thought John Cameron was simply reciting a Hollywood pantheism, but then I began to see his film as an attempt to describe a sort of universal theology, something that is close to the truth, a story that would describe what amounts to God's common grace, his involvement with the here and now, his transformative power. There is even a suggestion that people, human or Na'vi, may somehow participate in Gods' great work of calling us back to Eden. Pandora is where we come very close to "the Deity." where he sees us, and where we see each other. Is it over the top to suggest John Cameron as God's post-modern prophet? Probably. But see the movie.

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