james cameron’s intent

let’s ask the man what he intended with Avatar. my emphasis added below.

the director with his star Zoe Saldana said that  “Avatar” — with its depiction of mineral exploitation on a distant planet and a cadre of trigger-happy mercenaries charged with instituting a scorched earth policy — is very much a political film.

But he rejected comments by critics that the film is un-American even if it is an allegory for American military forays.

“I’ve heard people say this film is un-American, while part of being an American is having the freedom to have dissenting ideas,” Cameron said, prompting loud applause from a capacity crowd at the ArcLight Hollywood.

“This movie reflects that we are living through war,” Cameron added. “There are boots on the ground, troops who I personally believe were sent there under false pretenses, so I hope this will be part of opening our eyes.”

Conservative commentators such as John Podhoretz and John Nolte have blasted the film in recent weeks. In “The Weekly Standard,” for instance, Podhoretz wrote, “The conclusion does ask the audience to root for the defeat of American soldiers at the hands of an insurgency. So it is a deep expression of anti-Americanism– kind of.”

….

The director said:  “I don’t know if there is a political agenda exactly, but as an artist I felt a need to say something about what I saw around me. I think we all need to take stewardship of our planet.”

“I think everyone should be a tree hugger,” Cameron added.

In creating the long limbed, blue skinned Na’vi, the aliens that lives in commune with the lush naturescape on the fictional planet Pandora, the director said he was attempting to create a race that was aspirational.

“The Na’vi represent the better aspects of human nature, and the human characters in the film demonstrate the more venal aspects of human nature,” Cameron said.

So it appears that James Cameron was trying to do what he appeared to be trying to do and that he was intending to make the statement that he appeared to be intending to make.

HT to Hot Air.

UPDATE:

Cameron tells Entertainment Weekly he is also fine with his movie being a recruiting tool for eco-terrorists. he “believes” in eco-terrorism. (maybe he was joking? maybe?)

EW asked Cameron to respond to some of the criticisms aimed at “Avatar.” Check out how he responded to this one:

EW: “Avatar” is the perfect eco-terrorism recruiting tool.”

JC: Good, good. I like that one. I consider that a positive review. I believe in ecoterrorism.”

distraction from the Gospel

our enemy’s favorite play is the misdirection play. He doesn’t mind if a bunch of Christ followers get together to do “christian” things. He prefers that we stay huddled together in committees working out the details of the next building project or program designed to make ourselves more comfortable. he must especially like it when we expend great energy and fritter away the integrity and legitimacy of our message by getting involved in hand to hand combat in secular political society trying to recapture some mythical “christian” past as a “christian” nation.

whatever we do, if we aren’t loving our God with all of our heart soul mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves in order to demonstrate the selfless love with which we have been loved, then our enemy is pleased.

I haven’t said anything about the American Patriots Bible because I didn’t have anything nice to say.

So I will simply link to Richard Gamble’s review and show this excerpt:

Publication of The American Patriot’s Bible ought to provoke a much needed debate in the United States about the church’s right relationship to civil society. This Bible may become a landmark in that debate, clarifying the issues as never before, forcing people to recognize the degree to which Americanism has penetrated Christianity. An Augustinian perspective may help frame that conversation. In Book XIX of The City of God, the Bishop of Hippo explained in which areas there can be peace and in which there must be conflict between the earthly and the heavenly cities. Christian and non-Christian have a common interest in earthly peace, good order, and the “necessaries of life.” But in matters of worship, Augustine wrote, the Christian was forced to “dissent” from the earthly city. The limits of the common life had been reached. The Christian was forced “to become obnoxious to those who think differently, and to stand the brunt of their anger and hatred and persecutions…” Praising piety and faith in general alongside remnants of the historic Christian faith, The American Patriot’s Bible combines the things of God and the things of Caesar at the very point where they most vigilantly need to be kept apart. When the City of Man sets up Americanism as its faith, the Christian is forced to dissent.

There is another problem here. Why nationalize the Bible? A nationalized Bible would seem in effect to reverse the story of redemption. At the core of Christianity is a message that the gospel of salvation is flung wide open to all peoples regardless of nationality, race, or language. The day of Pentacost made that truth clear. While Christianity has inevitably taken on national accents as it has encountered culture after culture over the past 2,000 years, it is a universal faith. Why, then, take that transnational faith and fuse it with an earthly Caesar and empire by setting it side by side in pages of Holy Writ with a particular nation’s history and identity, as if Christianity belonged to Americans in a special and intimate way not true of other people? This Bible by its very existence distorts the gospel. As Augustine says in The City of God, the “heavenly city, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages…”

Go read the rest. It is delicious.

Hat tip to Nathan Finn, who adds:

For what it’s worth, the wife of a good friend of mine was horrified to receive a free copy of this book at an event during the SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville. She saw it as a key commentary on why Southern Baptists need a Great Commission Resurgence–because too many of us have become distracted by a desire to return America to her “Christian roots” (among other distractions) rather than laboring for the sake of the gospel so that more Americans (and people from every tribe, tongue, and nation) will become Christians. I agree 100%.

cohabitation data

via Allen James on his twitter feed, I read this article on the latest (2008) cohabitation data from the Census.

An article in USA Today provides a sampling of data from a new federal study of unmarried young adults, showing that “49% of dating couples and 30% of cohabitors surveyed agree that ‘my religious beliefs suggest that it is wrong for people to live together without being married,’ and “Of those cohabiting, 66% moved in before making plans to marry; 23% planned to marry but weren’t engaged, and 11% moved in when they got engaged.”

go check out the rest of the article for some other interesting nuggets.

new page

I took a post from last August and elevated it to its own page. Check it out sometime.

new polling on abortion

these are some very interesting numbers.

A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42% “pro-choice.” This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

…..
The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.

at the link above, there is a lot more information as well as pretty charts.

christian themes in Science Fiction

Kathryn Jean Lopez pointed yesterday to this interesting City Journal article about religious themes in science fiction movies.

here is a small excerpt, but go read the rest, especially if you like science fiction at all.

What did happen? Not to Shmi, whose curious reproductive history the Star Wars movies also never bothered to explain, but to the Star Wars movies themselves—whose earlier trilogy mostly avoided biblical inspiration but whose more recent installments shifted so sharply toward Christianity? More generally, why has mainstream sci-fi and fantasy as a whole become so religious? One reason may be the religious revival that the United States and much of the world have been undergoing since the 1970s. This “revenge of God,” in French scholar Gilles Kepel’s phrase, has seemingly begun to be felt even in secular Hollywood.

But another reason surely lies in geopolitics. During the sixties and seventies, popular American science fiction looked to the stars and saw a Cold War there. Consider Star Trek, the franchise that, as a TV show from 1966 to 1969 and later as a series of movies, chronicled the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew of the USS—“United Starship”—Enterprise, representatives of a democratic United Federation of Planets that held an uneasy truce with the warlike, autocratic Klingon Empire. The real-world parallels were unmistakable. “Of course Star Trek was about the Cold War,” critic Paul Cantor recently observed. “The United Federation of Planets was the United States and its free-world allies, the Klingons were the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc.”

The original Star Wars films were similarly political at heart. Like Star Trek, they portrayed a universe caught between two great rivals, one free and democratic, the other hierarchical and autocratic. Not for nothing did the first film use “evil Galactic Empire” to describe Darth Vader’s dominion. (One wonders whether Ronald Reagan drew his famous excoriation from Lucas’s hit.)

McDonald’s cappucino and football

Kevin DeYoung reminds us that Jesus came for Grimace and Hamburglar too with this video:

Kevin adds:

I mention all of this because so much that passes for spirituality these days is nothing more than middle class, 20something coffee culture. If you like jazz, soul patches, earth tone furniture, and lattes, that’s cool. But this culture is no holier than the McNugget, Hi-C, Value City, football culture that most people live in. Why does incarnational ministry usually mean hanging out at Starbucks instead of McDonalds?

Hat tip to Rodney Trotter at Reformation 21.