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« Benedict XVI remarks on Peter Lombard and "the entire vision of Christian doctrine" | Main | "Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light..." »

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Comments

Ed Peters

"What I find fascinating, and infuriating, is how the culture-war debate is routinely described by antagonists on both sides as a conflict between the religious and the un-religious. The faith instinct manifests itself across the ideological spectrum, even if it masquerades as something else."

Quintessentially Chestertonian observation, that.

ps: If Carl doesn't someday write a great study of Religion in America, we shall all be the poorer.

Kevin

Part of the story line involves an equivalent of the Gaia Hypothesis. While this is pantheism dressed up in pseudoscientific verbiage to make it more palatable to Western minds, the movie has one of the characters gathering empirical evidence of it on Pandora. I found this a jarring contrast with the lack of evidence back on boring old Earth and so I see it as a backhanded admission of sorts: in the real world the Gaia Hypothesis lacks evidence. Also, the extreme good guy/bad guy divide was as overdone as a spaghetti Western, which might also weaken Cameron's efforts at winning us over to anything beyond 2.6 hours of entertaining fiction. But maybe Cameron is targeting those who have been taught to made decisions based on feeling rather than reason.

Randy

I would even say the same thing about atheism. They will deny being religious more vehemently but they become religious anyway. We cannot escape it. We need to latch onto certain principles to make sense of the world. We need infallibility. We will manufacture it if we have to.

Kevin

Atheism claims the fig leaf of positivism when the question is God's theoretical existence, and then with no sense or irony wants to talk about the meaning of scientific discoveries. No wonder the New Atheists rely so heavily on name-calling and posturing.

Ben George

The pantheism isn't even the worst part of it, that was so blatant that even my rather oblivious high school students could pick up on it.

Worse, IMHO, was the Gnostic idea that we are simply "meat puppets" and that you can be "downloaded" into a new body, that your body is only an adornment to your "real self".

Plus, for all the good-guy-bad-guy stuff, it still basically tells the story from the proverbial "white man" perspective, the question asked isn't "Who are these 'other' people and what rights are inherent in personhood?"
Rather it's an internal debate between the "bad guy" conquerors and the "good guy" conquerors: "What should we do with them: Kill them or have sex with them?"

LJ

Well said Ben.

It is amazing the number of Christians who hold a similar dualistic view of humanity. I think that was Benedict's point at Regensburg, in part, when he talks about the Hellenization of our thought.

Charles E Flynn

Here is another take:

Avatar’s Central Fallacy [Travis Kavulla]

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MDE0YTc2ZWNjMjdjMzk2YmFiNjg3YTA0OWE0N2U2NWU

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

The movie is making history in the cinematographic world. That is proof of how good, in many ways, it is.
It presents the eternal polarization of Evil and Good, not just the good and bad guys which are secondary. It will have many interpretations including religious overtones, morality etc.
Over all, it is an accomplishment of Technology and Imagination. Worth seeing it.

Joyce

Hi Carl:
What I want to comment on is your article on the site below. I did not find any links on the site for comments.
http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/clarkolson_cathbuddh_feb05.asp
First I want to comment on this paragraph (in quotes below).
There are several different schools of Buddhism and I can only give you the perspective from Mahayana School from the Tantric practice perspective.
Buddhism teachings following the Middle Way state that was is being
negated is a Self that has inherent existence. That means existence separate from everything else.

"Catholicism believes that truth, and the Author of Truth, can be known rationally (to a significant, yet limited, extent) and through divine revelation. In contrast, Buddhism denies existential reality; nothing, including the "self," can be proven to exist."

Secondly on this next quote. The practice of Buddhism is not about just about escaping suffering. It is about the potential for every being to become a Buddha for the sake of others and to lead them towards enlightenment. It is about discovering one's true nature and the wisdom that comes from experiencing non-duality.

This is the same non-duality that Christ spoke about when he said I am one with the father.

"- Christ preached the reality of sin, the nature of God the Father, and the need for repentance and salvation. Buddha preached the untenable nature of existence and the means to escape suffering."

And finally the attraction of Buddhism in the west is that it has a rich set of practices for meditation that aid people in advancing spiritually.

Luke 17:20-22 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within[a] you."

One area that you failed to note in your article is that Buddhists believe in reincarnation. It takes the being many lifetimes to grow spiritually. This belief is share with other Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) also teaches about the various levels of spiritual growth through reincarnation.

Blessings!
Joyce

Joyce

I think you are all missing the point here regarding current politics. Some right-wingers hide under the label of being Christians (fundamenatlist ones at that), yet they support many un-Christian policies. Unfortunately they tend to be very vocal and present themselves as the face of Christianity. However, they are really imposters! If you look at the mainstream Christian Religions (Catholicism, Methodists, Episcopalian, Lutheran etc.), they all have their own charity organizations and try to foster concern and genorosity towards others. The true Christians need to be more vocal so that the real face of Christianity shines.

The real power struggle here is basically between those who have compassion in their hearts (regardless of which religion or lack of affiliation) and those that are only looking out after their own needs with no regard for others plight.

Although I have not seen the movie, from some of the reviews I have seen it is an indictment against the materialistic dogma in the world. I was going to say the West but unfortunately those in the East (China and India) and former Soviet states have decided to follow the Western Capitalist model of the Industrialized countries. What is being attacked is Capitalism without compassion. A capitalistic system which exploits workers, sells shoddy or dangerous merchandise, pollutes the enviroment putting people at risk, is setup to reward the few at the expense of the many etc. While there many business owners that are fair, there many others than are not and take advantage of others. Remember Jesus throwing out the money changers from the Temple. Remember Matt 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

This was not because the man was rich but more about the unethical ways used to acquire wealth. Our experience with the current economic meltdown is an example of the few benefiting at the expense of the many. Need I say more?

I see the movie as challenging people to live up to their core beliefs whether that are Christians, Jews, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists, Jainist, Sikhs or have secular ethics.

In the end, everything that people create, their religious belief systems, economic systems, technological inventions etc. can be used for good or evil. Life is a series of decisions. You have your religion as your foundation and if you are true to it you will make your decisions from your heart. If you are concerned with only your self, you will weigh all consequences on how each decision will effect you and make your decision from your head. In the end it is really quite simple. Jesus tried to make it very clear by stating:

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Blessings,

Carl E. Olson

Well, Joyce, I see you are a woman with convictions ("I think you are all missing the point here..."), but nothing you said in your criticism of "right-wingers" (which I take you assume most of us to be) cannot be equally and easily applied to "left-wingers" (meaningless terms, really, but nevermind that for the moment). For example, you could just as easily write:

Some left-wingers hide under the label of being Christians (progressive ones at that), yet they support many un-Christian policies. Unfortunately they tend to be very vocal and present themselves as the face of Christianity. However, they are really imposters! If you look at the mainstream Christian Religions (Catholicism, Methodists, Episcopalian, Lutheran etc.), they all have their own charity organizations and try to foster concern and genorosity towards others. The true Christians need to be more vocal so that the real face of Christianity shines.

The real power struggle here is basically between those who have compassion in their hearts (regardless of which religion or lack of affiliation) and those that are only looking out after their own needs with no regard for others plight.

Now, there might be something to your remark, "What is being attacked [in "Avatar"] is Capitalism without compassion." Fair enough. I happily follow the lead of John Paul II who insisted that capitalism needs to be properly oriented to the common good and shaped by the inherent dignity of all men. I also agree completely with his strong critiques of Western liberalism and secular democracies. But, as JPII pointed out, it was socialism and communism that left millions dead and millions more ruined during the 20th century. Totalitarian regimes and egalitarian ideologies destroyed countless lives and raped the earth during the past century in ways and in proportions that are difficult to comprehend. Do you have words of criticisms for the left-wingers? (By the way, if you spend some time on this blog, you'll note that we also criticize those on the "right"; we aren't political ideologues.)

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