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Mark Driscoll said:

: I logged on to ChristianityToday.com, and the review was reflective of Christianity today. Very disappointing.

And then he doesn't say why the review was reflective of CT OR why the review was very disappointing. Well gosh. If you're going to disagree with a review, say what it was ABOUT the review that you found so problematic. (And I am curious to know what OTHER reviews he would cite as "reflective" of how "very disappointing" CT has been.)

Overstreet wrote:

: So they create a people who value the resources their God has given them, a people who pray, a people who respect those who went before them and who honor, if you will, a "cloud of witnesses."

FWIW, I've been itching for an excuse to link this phrase ("cloud of witnesses") to "cloud computing" or "cloud memory" or whatever phrase it is that the techies have used to describe this film's treatment of the afterlife.

: We can, like Paul at (well, how ironic!) Mars Hill . . .

FWIW, I used to be an advisor to a Christian university newspaper called The Mars Hill, and I always found it kind of strange and ironic that the paper had that name ... not because the paper was named after a pagan god, or anything like that, but because the whole POINT of the original Mars Hill was that that was where the PAGANS congregated, and where the early Christians had to go if they were to get out of their comfort zones; it seemed odd to me that that name had been essentially co-opted by the Christian ghetto, as it were, and that it was now being applied to the things and places that enabled Christians to talk to THEMSELVES. (There may have been some "engagement" with the outside world in that paper, and there may be similar kinds of "engagement" in other venues that go by this name, but still, whenever I hear the name it always seems to have something to do with Christians talking to other Christians. They might be talking ABOUT the world, but it's not so clear that they're talking TO the world.)

bowen wrote:

: Further, this isn't The Da Vinci Code, which ducks and weaves against its detractors: first claiming that it is only fiction and then claiming that it is a work of serious historical research. Avatar is a work of pure fiction. Cameron doesn't believe Eywa exists and he isn't trying to persuade his audience that Eywa exists either, still less that people should stop worshipping Christ and start worshipping Eywa instead.

This is beautifully put.

Persona wrote:

: What Bowen said, except that in order to determine if something is a Christian, it needs to make a personal decision, something I'm not sure a film can do.

Ah, well, let's not confuse nouns with adjectives.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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If this is such an effective defense...couldn't it easily suggest Christianity is a lie? Many Christians oppose cultural advances and changes...

I know this is a huge oversimplification, but Christianity is itself an advancement from previous religious traditions.

Sure. But then it stops advancin and stands in the way of any advance waiting for Jesus to return the world and culture to a certain unadvanced state which is supposedly more pure.

Edited by Nezpop

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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James Cameron, the focus and the fury

The performance-capture filming takes place on a specialized stage called “the volume.” Actors wear special skintight suits with reflective markers so their every move can be tracked by more than 100 cameras. To avoid the “dead-eye” look of earlier motion capture films like “Polar Express,” Cameron also developed a special head-rigged camera to record the actors faces and capture the “liquidity of the eyes.” The camera’s data are fed into computers that render a high-quality 3-D replica of the actors and, in a startling change to the filmmaking process, Cameron was able to add all of his camera moves in post-production. . . .

Cameron also dispelled the popular image of “performance capture” filming as somehow being onerous for the actors. The experience is actually close to performing theater. It’s filmmaking with all the boring parts cut out – no waiting for camera moves, no coverage, no endless waiting around in trailers for lighting, makeup….

“The beauty of it is that it’s uninterrupted. When they do get a performance that’s great, all the coverage comes from that performance. I don’t have to say ‘Do that again for your close-up.' That’s a much more artificial thing to ask an actor to do.”

Los Angeles Times, February 24

- - -

I am intrigued by those last two paragraphs in particular. But the bit about the camera moves being done in post-production leads me to ask, once again, what it means for this film be nominated for Best Cinematography (and why the cinematographers' branch of the Academy is okay with all this virtual-reality stuff while the actors' branch, apparently, is not).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"...and if you don't believe me, go see Avatar, the most demonic, Satanic film I have ever seen.

He don't get out much, do he?

I'm waaay late to this, but I think this post wins the thread. A wonderful summation on the specific comment and, in my opinion, the film in general.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Mission Accomplished, Driscoll. You've made the Seattle papers again. Way to engage the culture.

By the way, as of yesterday, that YouTube video is now a staple ingredient in my lectures on art, faith, and discernment. I put it in contrast to Tolkien walking with C.S. Lewis and talking with him about "pagan mythology." A striking contrast of ways to engage with the myths of the world. One results in the culture withdrawing in disgust, their presuppositions about Christian judgmentalism confirmed. The other results in transformation.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I love this:

Still, I do appreciate what you say about Cameron's skills as an action director. He's not an aesthetic flibbertigibbet like Michael Bay, and he has a much better grammatical sense than, say, Christopher Nolan (some of the action in "The Dark Knight" went slack for me because I simply couldn't piece together who was where with respect to whom). Aside from the aforementioned depth-of-field problems unique to 3-D (don't trick my eyes into thinking they can focus on out-of-focus details in the background when they can't), my trouble with Cameron's filmmaking here is his conceptual and tonal literalism. It's summed up in the first chopper ride to the floating island mountains (I'm unclear on the nature of this phenomenon), when tough-gal pilot Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) remarks, "You should see your faces!" Thing is, she's looking out the windows like everybody else and can't see their faces, so all she's doing is talking to us, poking the audience and asking, "Isn't this awesome?" It's a bit too much like somebody standing up and crowing, "I'm the king of the world!" right in the middle of the movie.

Exactly.

This is my problem with Quentin Tarantino too. I'm constantly aware of Tarantino sitting next to me in the theater, elbowing me and going. "Didja see what I did there?"

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Well, Tolkien and Lewis were dealing with pre-Christian paganism. Driscoll, for whatever it's worth, is dealing with post-Christian paganism (or whatever you'd call it). Lewis and Tolkien dealt with blades of grass poking through the sidewalk; Driscoll is dealing with a culture that has taken out the lawn-mower and the weed-wacker.

But not everyone who walks on that sidewalk is armed with a lawn-mower or a weed-wacker. Many people don't even realize there is any grass under the pavement to begin with. And when they see those blades of grass poke stubbornly through the sidewalk, some of these people are intrigued and delighted.

So, yes, by all means, we should encourage such intrigue and delight. And while there is a place for going after the lawn-mowers and the weed-wackers, we should be careful about how we do even this.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Blogger Matthew Paul Turner (of Jesus Needs New PR) steps into the fray.

Money quote:

Mark goes on to say that "Nobody has ever accused him of being a fundamentalist!"

Really?! I find that really hard to believe.

But if that's the case, let me be the first: Pastor Mark Driscoll, you're a fundamentalist. You're like the late Jerry Falwell with tattoos, a faux-hawk, and a tendency toward belittling women.

That, my friends, is dropping the bomb!

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Blogger Matthew Paul Turner (of Jesus Needs New PR) steps into the fray.

Money quote:

Mark goes on to say that "Nobody has ever accused him of being a fundamentalist!"

Really?! I find that really hard to believe.

But if that's the case, let me be the first: Pastor Mark Driscoll, you're a fundamentalist. You're like the late Jerry Falwell with tattoos, a faux-hawk, and a tendency toward belittling women.

That, my friends, is dropping the bomb!

It is, but I think that is theologically irrational. Take him or leave him, but Falwell and Driscoll are apples and oranges. Different theological rationales, different ecclesiologies, totally different approaches to the church/state issue, etc... I honestly doubt any that understand the term have accused him of being a fundamentalist.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I honestly doubt any that understand the term have accused him of being a fundamentalist.

Actually, you'd be wrong there. There are many voices that have been calling Mark a fundamentalist for several years; I include myself in that number. And I do know a bit about Fundamentalism: my great-grandfather was a leader of 20th century Fundamentalism, influencing people like Falwell, who was "called to preach" when he was 18 during a sermon by my great-grandfather and later give his start by him.

When I listen to Mark's sermon's or attend services at his church, I can't tell a difference between his approach and the sermons I heard growing up.

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It is, but I think that is theologically irrational. Take him or leave him, but Falwell and Driscoll are apples and oranges. Different theological rationales, different ecclesiologies, totally different approaches to the church/state issue, etc... I honestly doubt any that understand the term have accused him of being a fundamentalist.

I think you're correct in the sense that Falwell and Driscoll are not perfect measures of comparison. However, there are similarities between Driscoll and other fundamentalists, even if Driscoll's fundamentalism is more of an "American Apparel-clad fundamentalism" (apologies to Patrol Mag). And he's increasingly becoming much more "'damental," and much less "fun." (I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself.)

I honestly doubt any that understand the term have accused him of being a fundamentalist.

Actually, you'd be wrong there. There are many voices that have been calling Mark a fundamentalist for several years; I include myself in that number.

I wish I could have said that about myself (I come from a church that finds Driscoll too left-wing). I defended him at my church as a traditionalist (and I defended him on this board just a few days ago), while still hoping he would change for the better. Now it seems that the worst aspects of his preaching (his willingness, some might say his obsession, with calling out other Christians; his stubbornness; etc.) have become his dominant trait. I find all this very unfortunate, and I say it with a heavy heart.

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Actually, you'd be wrong there. There are many voices that have been calling Mark a fundamentalist for several years; I include myself in that number.

That isn't very accurate church history. Lots of preachers sound the same, that isn't much of a theological rationale. I am not a big Driscoll fan, but we can't label people so randomly.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I think to some extent the term "Fundamentalist" has migrated away from denoting the historical background of The Fundamentals and toward being a simple description of anyone who willfully holds a certain viewpoint to the exclusion of any other views (thus, we speak of "Islamic fundamentalists," etc). Under the new condition, it's certainly possible to call Driscoll a "fundamentalist," especially since he seems to see his "right doctrine" as being at war with other "worldviews" (here, paganism).

Of course, what this really means is that we're all fundamentalist in some respect, because "fundamentalism" has been evacuated of any historical content and now indicates simply someone who won't budge on an issue we wish they would budge on--and since others want us to budge on a wholly different issue, they are as "justified" in calling us fundamentalist as we are in calling others the same thing.

All of which, of course, is besides the fact that Driscoll plainly doesn't understand that the kind of thing we find in Avatar is an idea that shows up all over the place, and not as an apology for some sort of monolithic "paganism." As was pointed out much earlier, Isaac Asimov (certainly not a pagan) introduced a hive-mind planet in Foundation's Edge. The problem is less that Driscoll's a fundamentalist and more that he simply doesn't know what he's talking about.

Edited by NBooth
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I think to some extent the term "Fundamentalist" has migrated away from denoting the historical background of The Fundamentals and toward being a simple description of anyone who willfully holds a certain viewpoint to the exclusion of any other views (thus, we speak of "Islamic fundamentalists," etc).

I'm not sure this description gets us all the way there. Can the viewpoint in question be any sort of viewpoint? What does "to the exclusion of any other views" mean? What is the significance of "willfully"?

I hold, to the exclusion of other viewpoints, the belief that in Jesus of Nazareth God has acted definitively on behalf of all mankind. Does that make me a fundamentalist? What about people who categorically maintain, say, that AGW is (or is not) occurring?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I'm beginning to wonder if we shouldn't go back to Stephen Lamb's original post of the YouTube video, and break this off into a thread called Driscoll: "Avatar" is "Satanic... Demonic".

We're taking up a lot of space with this tangent.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Or we could merge it into an existing thread on Mark Driscoll, like this one or this one. I don't know that we want to create multiple threads on this or any other film, especially simply on Driscoll's account. (And if the religious-categorization discussion is off-topic, then... it's off-topic.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I think to some extent the term "Fundamentalist" has migrated away from denoting the historical background of The Fundamentals and toward being a simple description of anyone who willfully holds a certain viewpoint to the exclusion of any other views (thus, we speak of "Islamic fundamentalists," etc).

I'm not sure this description gets us all the way there. Can the viewpoint in question be any sort of viewpoint? What does "to the exclusion of any other views" mean? What is the significance of "willfully"?

I hold, to the exclusion of other viewpoints, the belief that in Jesus of Nazareth God has acted definitively on behalf of all mankind. Does that make me a fundamentalist? What about people who categorically maintain, say, that AGW is (or is not) occurring?

That's my point, actually. As I say in my previous post:

Of course, what this really means is that we're all fundamentalist in some respect, because "fundamentalism" has been evacuated of any historical content and now indicates simply someone who won't budge on an issue we wish they would budge on--and since others want us to budge on a wholly different issue, they are as "justified" in calling us fundamentalist as we are in calling others the same thing.

The meaning of the term "fundamentalist" is relative to the person using it. It's valid (depending on your viewpoint) to say that, yes, belief in the definitive actions of Christ is fundamentalist, or that belief in global warming is fundamentalist. The only content that exists in (current) uses of "fundamentalist" is whatever is given it by the speaker. The truth is, calling someone "fundamentalist" says more about the speaker's views than it does about the person spoken of.

It's related to the slippery nature of "rational" or "objective"--by labeling a belief "irrational" we exclude it from discussion by "rational" people; by calling something "clear to any objective mind" we implicitly label dissenters as subjective, and therefore unworthy of consideration.

[in all of this, I'm not actually arguing that Driscoll is/is not a "fundamentalist" by my lights--simply that calling him that is in line with the current nature/usage of the term, which has been divorced from any historical meaning long before now.]

[FWIW, I don't mean to take up space with this tangent, and would be happy to spin off into another thread if need be]

Edited by NBooth
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The meaning of the term "fundamentalist" is relative to the person using it.

Perhaps, but in reference to someone within the orbit of evangelicalism, the term is still understood as defined in Henry's The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism or Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture. It is a pretty specific theological and historical term.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Fair enough. But what you have in that case isn't a one-true-meaning, but a case of two equally "justified" (depending on speaker, context, etc) meanings. In a strict sense, Driscoll may not be a fundamentalist, but (as pointed out in one of the links earlier in the thread) he shares certain characteristics with people who are fundamentalist, in which case calling Driscoll himself "fundamentalist" is a valid move designed to highlight those similarities.

At the same time, it's also about as valid as calling one's political opponents "Nazis," since it relies on stirring a visceral reaction in the listener, regardless of whether they even have the same understanding of the term as the speaker does.

I hasten to add that I'm not defending the characterization of Driscoll as a fundamentalist--I'm just pointing out that it may not be ignorance, so much as a different objective/speaker/context, that drives such language.

Edited by NBooth
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We must first look into the use of this term ‘fundamentalist’. On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like ’son of a bitch’, more exactly ’sonovabitch’, or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) ’sumbitch’. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of ‘fundamentalist’ (in this widely current use): it isn’t simply a term of abuse. In addition to its emotive force, it does have some cognitive content, and ordinarily denotes relatively conservative theological views. That makes it more like ’stupid sumbitch’ (or maybe ‘fascist sumbitch’?) than ’sumbitch’ simpliciter. It isn’t exactly like that term either, however, because its cognitive content can expand and contract on demand; its content seems to depend on who is using it. In the mouths of certain liberal theologians, for example, it tends to denote any who accept traditional Christianity, including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth; in the mouths of devout secularists like Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, it tends to denote anyone who believes there is such a person as God. The explanation is that the term has a certain indexical element: its cognitive content is given by the phrase ‘considerably to the right, theologically speaking, of me and my enlightened friends.’ The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use), can be given by something like ’stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine’.

That's Alvin Plantinga in Warranted Christian Belief. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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Ha! My advisor at college studied under Plantinga and was, IIRC, one of the people that helped put together materials that later showed up in that very book (we studied it in "Epistemology"). I'm pretty sure he read this exact passage at some point, but for some reason it never occurred to me to bring it up in this connection. Thanks!

Edited by NBooth
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I came across this bit in a recent Werner Herzog interview the other day and laughed out loud, thinking of this thread.

Is the ecstatic truth actually a religious term?

Yes, there is something of that there, something of late medieval mysticism. But I want to get away from the religious, from the mystical, because it leads all too quickly to the cloudy waters of the New Age, which is the most horrific thing you can possibly imagine in the spiritual realm. And this is something you see in a film like "Avatar" by the way.

It's basically a New Age fairytale film.

What annoys me is the way the film romanticises and idolises nature. It's celebrating a new form of paganism and it gives me knots in my intestines just thinking about it.

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I came across this bit in a recent Werner Herzog interview the other day and laughed out loud, thinking of this thread.

Is the ecstatic truth actually a religious term?

Yes, there is something of that there, something of late medieval mysticism. But I want to get away from the religious, from the mystical, because it leads all too quickly to the cloudy waters of the New Age, which is the most horrific thing you can possibly imagine in the spiritual realm. And this is something you see in a film like "Avatar" by the way.

It's basically a New Age fairytale film.

What annoys me is the way the film romanticises and idolises nature. It's celebrating a new form of paganism and it gives me knots in my intestines just thinking about it.

Yes. But are they knots in his intestines, or "knots" in his "intestines"?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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