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The Triumph of Eywa: Avatar, Pantheism, and the Sign of a Green Ecumene

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Abstract:

In an op-ed piece published in late 2009 in the New York Times, Ross Douthat claimedthat James Cameron’s film Avatar was a piece of pantheist propaganda designed toencourage the worship of nature rather than God. In this essay, I critique Douthat’sclaims as a misunderstanding of pantheism and a symptom of conservative Christianfear that environmentalism is crypto-paganism. I offer an alternative reading of Eywa,the film’s planetary intelligence, as a creature, a figure of the Christian goddess Natura; adescendant of literary paganism; and a sign of an incipient Christian environmentalecumene.

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