Avatar and demons

Posted 23 March 2010 by

Pastor Mark Driscoll never ceases to amaze me. First, the video, then my comments about what he thinks about Avatar.

To be honest, I am not going to defend Avatar as a movie. It is a very derivative work that relies on expert use of technology to keep your attention.

In using technology to grab your attention, Avatar is like the first Star Wars release. But it wasn’t only in the use of technology that grabbed our attention in what became called Star Wars: A New Hope. It was clear that George Lucas had learned the works of Joseph Campbell, and then created a compelling story line (at least for the first three movies). The story is compelling, even with its parallels to the Lord of the Rings and many other stories based upon legends and mythology.

Avatar differs from the Star Wars franchise in that there isn’t a compelling, original story. It feels derivative. When the other tribes were being summoned for war, I so much wanted to stand up, pump my arm in the air, and shout “Freedom!” If I had been wearing my Utilikilt, I probably would have.

But, calling Avatar demonic?

Has Mark Driscoll ever read the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis? In Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis uses the hrossa, hnéraki, séroni, and the Oyarsa as characters on Malacandra (Mars). Considering that two humans are wanting to mine Malacandra for sun’s blood (gold) in this book, there are more than a few, fleeting connections to Avatar.

Has Mark Driscoll ever studied anything about Celtic Christianity? One of the verses of Patrick’s Lorica (Breastplate) makes specific reference to God in nature.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

Francis of Assisi wrote the Canticle of the Sun:

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Finding God in nature is nothing new. You find it in the Bible.

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

Advocating a connection to nature is not necessarily supporting something demonic or new age.

I can think of something that is demonic, though.

Mel Gibson, in the Passion of the Christ, doesn’t seem to know how to count. Either that, or Gibson is into excessive violence.

Roman law said that the maximum number of lashes (strikes) by the person doing the flogging is 40. Some sources say this any flogger that could not kill a person being flogged by 40 lashes could be killed.

The traditional number of lashes Jesus Christ received is 39, although this is not specified in scripture. Considering Roman law, setting a maximum of 39 is reasonable. Jesus was not supposed to be killed by flogging, but returned to Pilate. This tradition was followed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in Jesus Christ, Superstar.

Assuming Roman law was followed, there was no excuse for the level of violence in the Passion of the Christ when it comes to the flogging.

This flogging scene served no purpose other than fulfilling some prurient, sick interest. If anything in a movie is demonic, this scene is.

I won’t deny there are those who think of Avatar as communicating some sort of Gaia religion. But, did Driscoll complain about the Lord of the Rings movies because of how Gandalf returns from death (a clearly Christus Victor reference).

Let’s get some perspective. And, be ready to defend the hope within you by interpreting Avatar in terms of a Christian mythology instead of simply letting people use other mythologies.

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