Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

I, like almost everyone I know, went to see the movie Avatar this weekend. As you've no doubt heard, the visual effects are simply stunning and the fictitious and digitally created world of Pandora is beautiful with luminescent foliage and magnificent creatures.

The film's environmental message is that the Na'vi, Pandora's race of human like creatures, have learned to live in harmony with the forest and reap its treasures without exploiting nature. They respect the energy in all living beings and seek to protect them, and show thanks and reverence to those they must sparingly use for food. Humans, who have destroyed their own home planet, now come to Pandora seeking to ravage its resources and threatening to destroy any Na'vi which stand in their way.

As much as I loved the visual imagery of this movie, I have to disagree with those who praise this film's supposedly environmental message. What the Na'vi learn is, with some divine assistance and the application of deadly force, an invading race can be destroyed militarily and sent home in shame and defeat. This apparently superior race of creatures has now been taught the art of war. Unfortunately, based on our knowledge of human history, a defeated people tends to go back to the trenches and develop even more powerful force. War does not provide long term solutions and only leads to more war.

If the film truly had an environmental message, this spiritually advanced civilization would teach the invading humans how to respect their planet and repair their own resources.We would have seen that there are long term and creative solutions which solve the source of the problem and do not rely on violence. But that does not a blockbuster make.

Yes, the digital world of Pandora is beautiful and wondrous. But I am partial to our own exquisite planet, fragile as it may be. And I know the human race can be greedy and violent and selfish, but I don't believe that is our own true nature. I have hope that by the time we develop technology allowing us to visit other worlds, the human race will mature and develop creative and long lasting solutions to our environmental problems.

Definitely go see this movie and don't wait for DVD, it is amazing and technologically brilliant. You will be thoroughly entertained. But don't expect to see any new message here. I do love that people are seeing this movie and talking to their families and friends about it, because I do have optimism about the potential of our human race, and perhaps the solutions all start with conversations.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation

Uploaded on December 7, 2009 by Loci Lenar Some rights reserved

One of my Christmas traditions over the past several years has been to reflect on the Pope's yearly message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace January 1. In past years the Holy Father has addressed the oneness of the human family, fighting poverty, and finally his message for this year is "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation". Pope Benedict XVI is well known for his advocacy of environmental protection, including the use of solar energy at the Vatican.

This year's message reminds us that human rights, refugee protection, and alleviation of hunger and poverty is directly tied to our treatment of the environment. The human family is dependent on the earth for sustenance, and protection of the earth is protection of each other. He reminds us that "humanity needs a profound cultural renewal" and that our present crises, including economic and environmental, are moral crises which "require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together". Pope Benedict reminds us that not only do we have a responsibility to each other, but we have a responsibility to future generations.

In addition to protecting creation to promote human well being, Pope Benedict reminds us that "many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature." We are becoming all too well aware that our beautiful planet with all of its diversity of life is actually very fragile.

I wish you all a very joyous and peaceful Christmas Season, and let us remember "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".

See the full Vatican message here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movie Review: Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia is the story of Julie Powell, who decides to spend a year cooking every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and in so doing discovers her own passion and purpose. We also follow the story of Julia Child herself, from her life in Paris with her husband Paul. her first cooking lessons, and the eventual publication of her classic cookbook.

I liked this movie, it was warm and funny. I loved seeing the relationship of Julia and Paul Child and how she was ambitious and independent yet also deeply connected to her husband.

I learned a couple of lessons from this movie. Find something you have a passion for and become great at it. Striving for excellence in something you love will make your life shine. Perfection isn't necessary. The best marriages are between friends who encourage each other to follow their own dreams while building their lives together. Most importantly, share your life with your loved ones over delicious meals prepared with love and enjoyment.

Bon App├ętit'!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Watching the News out of Copenhagen: One Family One Home

I've been following all the news that comes out of Copenhagen anxiously: the youth protests, the tiny islands lobbying for their existence, the endless science debates, the leaked agreements from behind closed doors, the political interest lobbying. For the most part, the news is discouraging. The countries must agree to a fair, ambitious, and binding deal in order to avert widespread catastrophe. We don't have a lot of practice agreeing as a world community.

But when I step back, and take a moment to think about what is really happening, I am amazed. A large percentage of world leaders are coming together with the realization that our futures are inextricably linked together. We differ in politics, economics, religion, and world view, but we share one home. We are all responsible for what happens to the most vulnerable of us. What happens in America or Europe has a direct impact on the fate of Bangladesh and Tuvalu.

Not only are leaders meeting together, but the people of the world are speaking. We are looking at the science and thinking about what might happen to our fellow world citizens, to our children, to their children. We understand the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet. We realize our individual actions impact the whole world, and we can't bear to let children go hungry or families to lose homes.

We might witness a lot of politics as usual coming out of Copenhagen. Special interests will impact negotiations. But let's not lose hope. We are witnessing perhaps the first time the whole world is coming together and talking about how we can take care of one another. We might make mistakes, we might even fail in major ways, but we are having the conversation and we are creating the vision and we are thinking about ourselves as one family sharing a common home.

Free Hit Counters
Free Counter