3-D travelers to Avatar's Pandora - a hyper-real jungle world 4.5 light years away - are tearing up their return tickets to earth. Internet chat forums are jammed (one forced to close after a thousand posts) with reports by movie viewers of depression, despondency and outright repulsion at the thought of going home.
Director James Cameron triumphed with the Golden Globe Awards Best Picture trophy for his movie Avatar, set to be the most successful film of the year and described as the first completely "immersive" film experience. Through a high-tek sophisticated process called Fusion 3-D, the audience is plunged into a fantasy-reality planet called Pandora where flora and fauna come magically alive, and into which viewers are swept by swinging vines and tree limb trails. Added to the twinkling phosphorescent beauty are the peace-loving native residents who worship their environment - until the true aliens from this earth arrive.
But the dream world ends as plastic glasses are removed and re-entry begins to take hold. Then the mystical Pandora turns into a Pandora's Box that makes this worldly existence seem sluggish, viral, and even dead by comparison. One fan said, "I even contemplated suicide, thinking that if I do it I will be re-birthed in a world similar to Pandora." Other typical posts - "After watching Avatar, I was so depressed that I was awake in this world again...It's hard to force myself to think that it's just a movie, that it will never happen."
Such is the nature of fantasy and dreams - for a moment they seem so real and satisfying, then poof! The line separating the visible from a vision can be so indefinable that crossing over seems almost possible, until the reminding pinch. And the magic of Avatar has been so potent that more than a pinch is needed. Yet, still the root yearning and problem is not remedied. Why are we left in such a state?
Man is a unique creation patterned after the Author of life (Genesis 1:26), so it should come as little surprise that such a yearning for paradise is part of human nature. If we are to believe the Author, life began in a "very good" state (Gen 1:31). This wondrous start might have continued if disobedience had not entered the picture. But now, the deceptive condition has spread with all its cancer, affecting the land and its inhabitants, practically erasing any trace of the loving Author's plan for man.
There is good evidence from history and earth sciences that a "Pandora" was once in place on this planet. Such a super continent has been called Rodinia, and later, Pangaea. Deep fossil discoveries testify to a time of semi-tropical abundance that once covered the earth along with giant forms of plants and animals. Polystrate fossils along with legends from every race tell of a flood that turned the past into sediments. [For a possible glimpse at what life might have been like, read The Ninth Generation - a fictional novel based upon such research.] Today, ruins of ancient civilizations still dot the world with mysteries of how mankind became so knowledgeable only to vanish. Perhaps the stone idols left behind are the intended witnesses to the reason - "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image,wherefore God gave them up..." (Rom 1:22-24).
Since the era of Eden, man's attempts to Pandorize the earth have all ultimately failed - the root problem traceable to a human heart that remains in rebellion toward its Creator - "All have sinned and come short of the glory..." (Rom 3:23) Apart from God, man is powerless to comprehend the glory and wonder of the ultimate place that the Father has designed for His children. To grasp the blueprints of the true Pandora - The Kingdom of God - truly, one must be born again (John 3:3,5).
It took an act of God to pierce the human heart - to awaken it to the Father's eternal desire - that man not perish through selfish lusts, but yield to the greatest love ever revealed (John 3:16-18), and be transformed by the One who gave His Son to be our sin sacrifice. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation..." (2 Cor 5:17).
One day yet in the future, just as certain as hundreds of past Biblical prophesies have been meticulously fulfilled, the Pandoran dream will come true. "...for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor 4:18). Faith and hope will then become sight.
But far greater and immensely more satisfying than Pandora will be the new creation, as promised in the final pages of Revelation (21).
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new..." (Rev 21:4-5)