| Oberon on Avatar
I [Oberon Zell Ravenheart] just wrote the following 200-word Letter to the Editor to our local newspaper. I hope they'll print it!
If anyone else would like to send a similar letter to your own local paper, giving your own group's contact info, please feel free to crib from this one as you wish. Let's get this message out! After all, "Avatar" is the biggest blockbuster movie of all time, with millions of people loving it for its essentially "Neo-Pagan" message. Now that the Pope has explicitly made that identification, we need to let all those "Avatar" fans know who we are, and how to find us.
Oberon Zell Ravenheart
Dear fellow Pagans,
Pope: 'Avatar' [is] 'Neo-Pagan'
In a recent review of the mega-blockbuster movie "Avatar," Vatican Radio condemned "pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium. Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship."
In his "Papal Message for World Day of Peace 2010," Pope Benedict XVI warned that "such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the 'dignity' of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone."
Indeed they do! Thanks, Your Holiness, for explaining this so succinctly to all the enthusiastic viewers of that phenomenal movie! After 1500 years of the Church misrepresenting Paganism as evil and satanic, we modern Neo-Pagans appreciate this tacit acknowledgement that what we are r eally all about is Nature worship. Neo-Paganism is "green religion," plain and simple. Our primary deity is Gaia-Mother Earth.
Readers who appreciated the ecospiritual message in "Avatar" might want to check out the at: Sonoma County Pagan Network
Rev. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart
Church of All Worlds
[Oberon Zell Ravenheart] ... "Some of my Pagan/Druid friends objected to 'Avatar' because it continued, in their opinion, the white-centrist savior concept. White superman savior leads and saves the naive childlike (infer less intelligent) natives from destruction (they can't do it on their own)."
This rather odd and misguided interpretation of the movie seems to be getting quite a bit of circulation lately. Personally, I think it is a subtle right-wing plot to attempt to discredit the message of the movie with liberals and progressives.
But, I think it's crap. The hero's race was irrelevant; he could have just as easily been black, Asian, Hispanic, or anything. That wasn't the point. The point was that he was human, and came out of the very culture that was intent on destroying the natives; but after spending time among them, he switched allegiance. That is only significant if he had started off far removed from them in the first place-which he so clearly did. Thus his education and transformation becomes that of the audience. Which is the whole intent of the movie, according to Cameron.
I think the reason that so many stories like this involve white men "going native" is simply that they're in fact representative of the culture of oppression-the implication being that even they might become enlightened if they could only experience first-hand the traditional cultures their own culture so despises. And the actual history of colonialism - especially British - is replete with real examples of this sort of thing. The "savior" is not the white guy, but the indigenous culture he comes to appreciate. And thus, so does the audience.
As a Pagan, I am always delighted to see such beautiful depictions of the values I hold dear reaching into the hearts and minds of wider audiences. I believe that such stories are our best hope for transforming humanity and saving the world. After all, Pandora is only a fictional world in a movie. But our own Earth is real, and we live here. And the plotline of Avatar is but a thinly-veiled allegory for the history of imperial colonialism and its brutal oppression and exploitation of indigenous peoples-which is all too real. But the movie-like the Pagan renaissance now in progress-also holds out hope for a future resolution and cultural transformation. And this hope is what we're counting on.
And incidentally, those traditional peoples who have seen Avatar seem to love it! "Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, has praised 'Avatar' for what he calls its message of saving the environment from exploitation."
Vivere bene est vindicata optima.
Grey School of Wizardry
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