People are said to be emerging in tears from screenings of Avatar, James Cameron's gorgeous 3D film about the idyllic alien world of Pandora. They find themselves depressed at the contrast between their real world and Pandora's.
What do we love about Pandora?
It's not all fun and games after all - you can get devoured by a Palulukan or even crushed by the hammer-like head of an
Angtsìk. It is not a world without death, competition, class structure or suffering.
Pandora has something important that we seem to lack: connection. In that world, all creatures (including the flora) can connect and communicate to each other. There is a sacredness within everything and connecting all living things. It's a pantheistic vision where the sacred is not 'out there' but 'in here' - in and among all of us.
The Vatican and other Christians criticize Avatar for this vision. It's vision of religion is lacking the Church's hierarchy, miracles, and dogma. That's gotta feel threatening to a religion whose regular practitioners have already dwindled to the 5% level in most of western Europe!
Instead of being depressed, let's recognize that the dream of interconnection can be made reality here. No - we are probably not going to grow attachments that - usb-like - allow us to plug into other creatures and their essence. But the world is an interconnected place beneath the surface. If you've ever had that serene feeling in nature, or known something deeper when authentically relating to another human being or even a non-human animal, then you know this to be true.
Pandora gives us the vision of a place where those real connections become very concrete. That image can be a religious icon for our disconnected, fragmented, fiercely-individualistic times. I'm going out to create connection. How about you?