Similar to Hunter, who was surprised to find that Avatar was more than a “left-wing, pantheistic film,” my favorite localist apologist, Caleb Stegall, found something to appreciate in the recent blockbuster:
It is curious to me that this movie has so obviously touched a raw nerve and gotten under the skin of a certain set of east-coast conservatives. It reminds me a bit of the over-reaction of the same set to a certain book about granola-toting and sandal-wearing cons!
I understand and agree with, to a point, the knock on Hollywood pantheism. That said, I found Douthat’s critique of the movie to be forced and artificial. It is true that the tall blue people were a bit tree-huggy, and their primitive beliefs were certainly based on American Indian-type pantheism or nature-worship. However, the primary expression of this was the native’s belief that all the living things in their home formed an interconnected whole which the natives both oversaw as caretakers and partook of as participants. Take out the fantasy and sci-fi elements and there isn’t anything here Wendell Berry hasn’t also said.