Posted by Ken Thomas
A Christian columnist at the NY Times (cleverly disguised as a film review of Avatar and riff on Tocqueville).
For Kate, and others interested: C-SPAN's Q&A with Ross Douthat.
I shipped that off to a young friend who hated that movie without quite knowing why. Maybe he just did not have the words for his disgust with it and maybe Douthat does.
I do not really keep up with the NYT opinion page. Are there always articles like this on that page?
Ross Douthat is their regular Monday columnist. He was hired to replace Bill Kristol, and he has done more than an adequate job in that regard. Sometimes he writes on such theological themes; he reviews films fairly regularly for National Review.
"... a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world."
Hence the religious undertones to the environmental movement.
But I believe the fundamental attraction of that kind of pantheism is that it allow us to create the standards of accountability. For in today's pantheism there really isn't a "God" or "god" ... there is merely the physical world, which is mystical in some ways but certainly not personal.
The concept of God being personal, sovereign, and expecting His creation to behave according to His commandments frightens people greatly. Rather than inspect that kind of world with an open eye towards the benefits of living by God's rule, they turn and create their own idols.
One need only look at the tortured logic used by such people to defend their own actions, and to see the horrible wreckage that is all to often their lives, and you'll see their great conflict -- a desire for complete freedom of action AND complete freedom from consequence. That's impossible, of course. They know that. But will not admit that.
"We are free to choose our actions. We are not free to choose the consequences." -- Dallas Willard
Ken, I knew that part about Douthat, just not if this type of editorial was normal for the NYT opinion crowd. Maybe not?
I wonder if he will review Avatar for NR where he can really spread himself on this theme.
Don, yes, I agree, but know that there are many people who not see the God-shaped void inside themselves even when they have filled it with whatever suits them for whatever reason it does suit them.
yes, Ross has written on theological matters before--most prominently on Bendict's opening to the Anglicans. But it is surely not normal--though Ross is still establishing himself.
Kate, they may not recognize it as "God-shaped," but I do believe they know something is wrong.
Sadly, today's church does not offer a very compelling portrait. I realize that starts with me.
Anyway, so Avatar is now out there. I've not really read any good reviews of it ... from left or right. It'll probably make a boatload of money then fade into the background. On the whole it will become irrelevant.
The church is only human. Therefore is it the least compelling aspect of Christianity. Fortunately, "No man comes to the Father but by me." were words never meant to come out of either your mouth or mine except as quote.
But I know what you mean. Happy Christmas, Don in AZ!
When you say boatload of money are you making a joke about the director's previous movie, "Titanic"?
Entirely unintentional, my dear ... but I'll claim it. :-)
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