Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Jewish Side of Avatar

You might have thought that at last night’s JUMP event, where a panel discussion was held on Avatar and its connections to Jewish theology, it would have been quite the mystical experience. That’s what this movie analyst was certainly looking for. Unfortunately, it took 35 minutes to get on topic.

Seated on this esteemed panel were writer/director for Canadian and American broadcasters Jack Blum, McMaster University philosophy Professor Sam Ajzenstat and JUMP’s Executive Director, Rabbi Daniel Green. Once finally on topic, they together with the assembled audience, explored what Avatar and its director James Cameron’s vision had to say in the film’s subtext on 4 primary matters: What really is the connection between our body and the soul; man vs. G-d: the impact of power, control and free will; what should be our connection to the earth and the environment and of course the question of all questions, why are we here?

From what you know of the planet Pandora and the way of life of the Navi, the planet’s inhabitants, would Adam and Eve have been incomplete if they and subsequently we had stayed in the Garden of Eden? Forgotten what Pandora looks like? Here’s a clip of what the planet had to offer, narrated by one of the film’s stars Sigourney Weaver herself:

Technological and Scientific advancement over Nature and Spirituality, what we gained from the tree of knowledge - Does it outweigh what we lost after Adam held the apple in his hand and took that bite?

Jay Michaelson of The Forward, in his own analysis referenced ‘The Shechinah, understood as a feminine aspect of the Divine latent in creation and awaiting unification (yichud) with the transcendent G-d. In other words, G-d is not to be seen up there and dirt seen down here. Part of G-d is there and part of G-d is here and it’s our job to bring the two together.’ ‘The communitarian strain sees us not only as individuals, but also as a people with a collective responsibility (to both protect and advance). We must take responsibility for more than our patch of the sidewalk and, like the many species of “Avatar,” band together to take collective action to stop our age’s bulldozers from leveling our forests and meadows.’ The corporation and the military wanted to get their hands on the superconductor material ironically called Unobtainium. The irony of course is that the humans never really got the full complement of it in the end and as the battle for peace in the Middle East ever more rages on, we stray further and further away from this very belief that exists at the center of our collective consciousness.

On a deep level, when watching the marvels of Pandora and then looking at what exists around us, where does the hope for our race, the planet and our combined future lie? Is it in the wonder and mystery of what nature’s symbiotic relationship to life provides or in the frightening beauty of our advancements?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel