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This morning I awoke, showered, shaved, gave my wife a tender goodbye kiss on the cheek and hit the road just early enough to watch the sun stretch it’s long golden rays out over God’s beautiful creation. My destination was the Hyde Park Shopping Centre and when I arrived I sought out the Seattle Coffee Company. It was really busy so I patiently stood in a queue, collected a half and half and took a seat near the back of an assembly of people. You see, a group called TGIF, which had been pitched to me as a casual get-together of Christian thinkers who like to converse and debate, meet every Friday morning between 6:15 and 7:30, and I had joined them, keen to hear and see what they were all about.
Well the topic of the day was the movie Avatar. Neil Oosthuizen (a Methodist Minister, I think) guided his audience through a few movie clips, gave a sweeping synopsis and presented the major themes. He enthusiastically gave the show two thumbs up. I’ve not seen the movie yet (although tomorrow evening is date night :)) because between work and church and kids and wife and Bible studies and chess… (not necessarily in that order) I’m left with about 10 minutes to myself… which I usually use for sleep.
The following three points were touted as highlights of the show: [editor: In a gentle rebuke it was pointed out that the headings below weren't the headings used on the morning, they're my tongue-in-cheek paraphrases. For the sake of accuracy the morning's highlights were Love, Connectedness and The Environment.]
‘Real love’ wins through: Not in a Walt Disney ‘boy meets girl’ gushy kind of way but rather the hero, who starts out in a ‘negative place’, goes through a ‘life journey’ and then has a ‘reality check’, finally discovers a ‘love worth dying for’.
The environment matters dude: Nature is beautiful and machines and capitalism are evil. Never, Ever, EVER, murder another tree as long as you live!
We’re all psychedelically connected man: The whole cosmos is reaching out and touching itself. The word ‘connected’ might have been used 300 times during the presentation so I suspect it was the arching theme in the movie? “I see you” and, “have you squeezed my tail today?” were tendered as really good examples of this bubbly bundle of love.
So, what did I think of the morning? An utter waste of time. To think I set the alarm for 5:00 am! It was a bit of psycho babble, mixed in with some “Hollywood is amazing” and capped off with a hat tip to ‘Eastern Religiosity’. I was exceptionally disappointed. 50 people in a room with a pastor in the front does not a Christian gathering make. No tangible connection was made to the bible, neither was there any sign of discerned analysis of the world view depicted in the film.
I was dying to ask the question, “How did the concepts, ‘the environment’ or ‘connectedness’ or ‘real love’ stack up to the way that the Bible presents them?” So much for thinking, conversing and debating, no sooner had I stuck up my hand than the group was adjourned, dispersed and I was left with only my lament.
If it wasn’t for a guy from CESA (I have a really high regard for the Church of England in South Africa), who asked a stellar question which was poorly answered and then chatted to me after, I’d never go back, but judging from his response, and that he’s been attending for over a decade, I will give it one more try. Maybe next week’ll be better?
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Did I miss the boat? Plenty of people had encouraged me to attend. Why do you think my experience was so awful?