Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avatar-induced Depression

J.T. Crawford

With the mass popularity of the movie Avatar ($505M box office revenue in just one month’s time) and the constant barrage of Avatar related news, it seems completely behind the times for a blog to just now mention this king of blockbusters. And I know it won’t be long before some church will start a series on Avatar and all the spiritual lessons that can be imagined, I mean extrapolated from the movie.

This is not a movie I have seen. I was intrigued by the technical innovations touted by director James Cameron, and the media hype surrounding the film’s groundbreaking visuals and effects were enough to pique my interest and cause me to want to check it out. But after reading the initial review of the movie and discovering the foul language that peppered the dialogue (including God’s name being misused many times), I decided it wasn’t worth seeing. But that is a topic for another blog.

I recently saw an article, however, about many who have seen the movie and are now experiencing what is being called Avatar-induced depression. The movie is set in the not-so-distant future where the fate of humankind is in question because the Earth is no longer capable of sustaining the needs of a burgeoning population. Humans are now traveling to a distant moon planet called Pandora in order to research and harvest the things the Earth needs in order to survive. Plot-wise, this is nothing new to sci-fi fans. Pandora, however, is depicted as a veritable garden of Eden where the humanoid race the Na’vi live. Because of the modern advances in movie technologies, Cameron is able to convey the sense of what a near perfect world may look and feel like, leaving the audience with a sense of wonder and amazement over all that Pandora has to offer.

This is where Avatar-induced depression comes in. On an Avatar fan forum site, a thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible” appeared. Some viewers, after seeing the beauty Pandora, are now disillusioned over the seeming futility of life here on Earth and long for a place like Pandora to call their own. This is not surprising. God created mankind to experience the pleasures of Him and to enjoy Him forever. This far exceeds anything that can dreamed of on a movie screen, yet even in the imagination of men we see a longing for something to satisfy our desires for what we were created to experience.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that He has put eternity in our hearts. John MacArthur comments on this scripture by saying, “God made men for His eternal purpose, and nothing in post-fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.” Nothing, that is, except God Himself as revealed in Jesus Christ. That’s what our lives are about. We strive day after day to amass and maintain a satisfaction in whatever we can find as a substitute for what God created us for. Nothing will do, however, as a replacement for the longing we have for what we lost in the fall of mankind.

Movies like Avatar, where the imagination of men can temporarily reach out into the longing for the eternal satisfaction of God, only magnify what we are missing, albeit in a way much below the imagination of God.

The hymn Satisfied is appropriate for the closing of this blog entry. If you have not heard it, look it up, listen to it, and made it a melody of your heart.


All my life I had a longing,
For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning,
Of the thirst I felt within.

Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me,
Only mocked my souls sad cry.

Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My redeemer is to me.

Hallelujah! I have found Him,

whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Thro His blood I now am saved.

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