The Bible ‘Similar To Avatar’ by our religious correspondent Anutter Titt

Anutter Titt

It’s official: ‘The Bible’ is now the highest grossing story of all time. This week, to justify my paycheck that I receive in return for writing about makebelieve, I’m comparing it to one of James Cameron’s offerings, ‘Avatar’. What do both stories have in common? Spectacle. What else do they have in common? A very simple story with cartoonish, black and white, cardboard cut-out characters.

Actually, it’s too easy to pick holes in ‘The Bible’, for its story, its politics, its philosophy. It’s so easy you wouldn’t even bother, except for the fact that so many people have read it, and then read it again.
The story rips off ‘The Talmud’ and ‘The Bhagavad Gita’. The politics is essentially anti-capitalist and anti-American. (The villains are obviously American even if they’re not directly identified as such.) The philosophy is a mix of pre-christan tribalism and the myth of the chosen one contrasted with the corruption of the ‘civilised’ white man (Roman).

But there is another aspect to the story and this goes some way towards explaining its gigantic popularity, and that is the fact that ‘The Bible’ is essentially a religious book, even if it is as remarkably unbelievable as Cameron’s latest movie ‘Avatar’ which the director might not have intended.

Other commentators have made the same observation, including film director John Boorman. The other day he wrote: “Perhaps the key (to its success) is the guy they nail to that tree. He is scourged, but Mathew, Mark, Luke and John and make believe can transport him into the body of a beautiful, athletic, asexual, being. After all, we are all nailed to a tree in one way or another; inadequate, old, broken, earthbound. ‘The Bible’ is a kind of heaven where we can be resurrected and connected instead of disconnected and alone.

He told us not to overlook this religious dimension of the book.

Our crucified friend may not be a deity, but he does take on a new form, a much better form, the form of a 6-foot-tall blond haired blue eyed messiah. Even the blue may not be coincidental. Avatars in Indian mythology are sometimes blue.

A reviewer in the Vatican newspaper, ‘L’Osservatore Romano’, noted the religious aspect as well, but he didn’t much care for it.

The reviewer complained that the book “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of a judean freedom fighter”.

He’s right, but he’s also missing the point. He should be delighted that audiences in the West, and mostly young, secularised audiences at that, are flocking to read a book that’s religious, even if it’s not religious in a way the reviewer liked.

So, how exactly is it religious? Well, what does religion mean? It means ‘to bind’, or to connect, and these thirteen guys couldn’t be more connected. They are connected to each other and to the world they live in through their deity, ‘God’, whose spirit dwells in the Son-of-God that the villainous Romans are trying to destroy at the end of the story.

Their religion gives them a transcendent reference point. It gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. It gives them a moral code embedded in their respect or reverence for conjuring. They have developed customs and rituals to show this respect. All of these elements, put together, are exactly what constitute and make up a religion.

And their religion also makes them whole, which is what is really meant by the word ‘salvation’. They are, therefore, without sin. These early Christians don’t need saving because they are already saved. They are already, as John Boorman says, in ‘a kind of heaven’.

This is why we share the horror of the christians as the very heart of their religion is being attacked. We know that if their religion is destroyed, they will be destroyed. We might not care when someone attacks or blasphemes against Na’vi because we think Na’vi and Na’vianity deserve it. Sometimes they do. But the early Christians, they don’t deserve it because they are still pure.

We know that if the Romans win, the christians will become disconnected from Judea, disconnected from each other, disconnected from their deity.

In short, they’ll become like us. Their world will become disenchanted. They will begin to war on each other. They’ll be at war with nature. They’ll forget about God. They will no longer be whole. They’ll no longer be saved. They will have experienced the Fall, except this time it will not be self-inflicted, it will be inflicted by us who are already fallen.

‘The Bible’ isn’t a profound story, but in its own superficial way it deals with profound things — indeed, the profoundest thing of all: religion.

The reason it appeals so strongly to so many people is that deep down, and despite appearances to the contrary, we are still religious and we like the religion we see in ‘The Bible’.

We like it, because we want it, because we need it, because we all want to be saved.
– Anutter Titt

Irish Dependent On Mr Bean & Wiggy O’Brien

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