Dr. Albert Mohler hosted a fascinating panel discussion on pop culture yesterday titled “Eden, Avatar, and the Kingdom of Christ: Just What Are We To Do with Popular Culture?” Panel members included Russell D. Moore, Mark Coppenger, Ted Cabal, and James Parker. The video is above. You can download the audio here or listen to it below.[audio:http://www.sbts.edu/media/audio/spring2010/20100211panel.mp3]
I’m not sure which panel member made the comment about secularism’s noble attempts at understanding spiritual longings, but I share his concern. He made the comparison of trying to teach a cat algebra: there is simply a failure to capture the meaning or understand. While man is tailored for creation, and community, he is more importantly made in the image of God. Man’s search within for spiritual content (cf. Romanticism), while noble, can spark feelings of such disparity and hopelessness, and those were my impressions when reflecting on the spiritual content of Avatar.
To borrow a frequently used expression in NT studies — you know, the one about peering into a deep well and seeing your own face? — we find that the spiritual expression of this movie is ultimately Cameron’s own face peering back at him, despite all nobility. A cat will simply not see anything else.
I’m so thankful that in Scripture man’s Eden is one of such beauty that not even death tarnishes it. The incredible popularity of Avatar’s lush garden Pandora, while a nice weekend retreat, would not be my paradise of preference. Give me beautiful Eden and her transcendent Creator.