January 25, 2010

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Avatar, Pantheism, and You It was almost ten o'clock last night when I peeled myself off the couch to head out with a group of friends to go see Avatar in IMAX 3D. I feel too old for this, I thought. And yet, it was the very defiance of this thought that compelled me to go. Stumbling up to my room some three and half hours later, my head was spinning from the stunning images and breathtaking pseudo-cinematography. As a fun, lose-yourself-in-a-movie experience, Avatar is hard to rival...and, in that sense, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But with the spiritual leader lady channeling the Life Spirit of all living things while the community chanted, the movie provoked some thoughts about the popularity of Pantheism that I thought would make a good discussion. To be clear: this isn't about slamming Avatar or accusing Hollywood of pagan religious propaganda. I'm not asking for a boycott of the movie nor am suggesting any insidious demonic plot at work. I am simply using this movie as a cultural touchpoint, a springboard for a larger discussion on the rise of Pantheism among popular thought. And since I've just been reading C. S. Lewis' book Miracles, which addresses Pantheism quite precisely in Chapter 11 (all Lewis quotes in this article are from Chapter 11), I thought I'd take a stab at summarizing a few of his points as fodder for the conversation. What Is Pantheism? Simply stated, pantheism is the belief that God is "a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow" (Lewis). How are Pantheism and Christianity Similar and Different? On God being present everywhere: Both Pantheism and Christianity believe that God is present everywhere, but they mean two different things....

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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