By David Outten
The Telegraph (a popular English news website) reports that voodoo leaders in Haiti are upset that aid is not coming to followers of voodoo as quickly as it is coming to evangelicals. The article, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7119572/Haiti-earthquake-voodoo-high-priest-claims-aid-monopolised-by-Christians.html, claims that followers of Haitian voodoo worship hundreds of spirits called “Iwa.” The article quotes Kompe Filo, a popular Haitian television and radio personality, saying, “God is angry against humanity, not just Haiti but all humanity. This is a message that man must change, and reconnect with the natural world around him. We have a lot of beliefs modern people should believe in. For example we believe that trees have spirits which we should not harm otherwise we will all suffer.”
A book given out a the AVATAR screening I attended says, “The Na’vi have developed a complex culture based on a profound spiritual connection among all creatures, and to a deity they call Eywa. They are superb artisans who celebrate the interconnectedness of nature through storytelling, song, dance, and crafts.”
The Telegraph article says:
“Missionaries equating voodoo with devil worship have long tried to convert the population of Haiti but the religion, a mixture of Christianity and animism, remains ingrained. Like Christianity it has one God but incorporates pagan elements such as spell casting and calling spirits. . . elaborate ceremonies include secret languages, people dancing after being possessed by spirits and talismans, including dried animal heads.
“In rural areas there are said to be people who practice the darker side of voodoo, summoning evil spirits. However, practitioners argue that voodoo is a force for good.”
The authors of the abovementioned AVATAR book certainly think Eywa is a force for good. Here’s a visionary comment from their book, “I see our scarred Earth, renewed and revived. The oceans returned to blue, a world washed clean and begun again. Like it once was. I can’t help but wonder if Eywa called out to us, at risk to herself, so that she might save Earth.”
The imagery here is of Eywa risking the destruction of Pandora to draw humans to “salvation” so they might go home and restore earth (note, they choose to capitalize “Earth”). Of course, there is no real Pandora, but millions of people are getting the message of Eywa courtesy of the fictional movie.
One of the primary goals of MOVIEGUIDE® is to provide Media Wisdom. Children who watch a movie like AVATAR may be attracted to some of the beliefs espoused. Some may think they can mix their Christian faith with other beliefs.
The Telegraph article describes one of the traits of many Haitians:
“As she waited for rice from the WFP Monique Henri, 36 wore a cross round her neck but she also believes in voodoo. She said she had an image of Ogu Feri, the voodoo god of metal and fire, at her home.”
Mixing voodoo (or AVATAR’s pantheism) with Christianity does not work. At the very core of Christianity (and Judaism) is the first commandment:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
You can believe in God and Iwa, and Eywa, and Buddha, and Muhammad, and Mickey Mouse, but you cannot follow God and go where He is not leading. There is a difference between “believing in God” and “believing God.”
To believe “in” God only requires that you think something called “god” exists. You can think “god” is a tree. You can think “god” is the universe. You can think “god” made the world and then left.
To believe God is to believe He is our Creator and ultimate authority. He has the right to tell us what to do and what not to do.
If we dabble in witchcraft, voodoo, pantheism, and paganism, we show either ignorance or disobedience. Many people who “believe in” God have such a weak understanding of God that they don’t see the danger of dabbling in the occult, practicing voodoo, or considering other faiths equal to their own.
At MOVIEGUIDE®, we take seriously the messages being conveyed in popular entertainment and try to alert parents to issues that they may wish to discuss with their children. We know many thousands of children active in church youth groups see popular movies like AVATAR. We want parents and children to be prepared to defend their faith in Jesus Christ.
We’d love to see more movies made that glorify the one true God and fewer that promote false religious beliefs, but as we hope and work toward that day, we will continue to provide Media Wisdom.