Having just seen Avatar, written and directed by James Cameron, in 3-D no less, I'm still pondering this movie. It's not so much the 3-D technology, which is fantastic, but it's the wonderful and moral story, set on a world aptly called Pandora by its human settlers, for whom it takes a five year journey at sublight speed to reach, nestled in the Alpha Centauri system.
In the distant future, with Earth resources and lush green virtually gone, humans have struck out for distant worlds, finding this small moon around a giant gas planet. (This draws faint parallels to the Forest Moon of Endor, from Return of the Jedi, but any such comparison ends there.)
My, my, my. What beauty it holds. Words simply fail me.
But that's not why I write. Today I stumble across a CNN story and how some people are leaving the theaters depressed and moody. Not because Avatar has a such downer of an ending (it doesn't), but that our world sharply contrasts the stark wonderment of Pandora. (The film previews hold much back. You're viewing only a scintilla of what the movie has to show you.)
But I'm not here to praise Cameron's film (yet, I have...). In this recent CNN article, it addresses a viewer comment, confessing a so-called "suicidal" consideration over how drab/dreary our world feels compared to this wondrous but imagined planet. While this viewer should watch some amazing Discovery Channel documentaries on own planet, this notion brings to mind something Joseph Smith is once rumored to have remarked: If a man were to peer into the Telestial kingdom, and witness its wonderment and beauty, such a vision would be so enticing, he would kill himself to gain its access. (Or words to that effect.)
But is this true? Were such sentiments ever uttered by The Prophet, or any other modern General Authority? It would seem...no. (For insight into this I direct you to this following blog post.)
This leaves me to ponder what beauty awaits those souls slated to earn the lowest kingdom allowed by Heavenly Father. We do know that Joseph Smith received vivid visions of all three kingdoms, or degrees of glory. I'm of the opinion that once the wicked are purged of their sins the hard way (the agony that Christ undertook for them, which they rejected), their everlasting reward will be quite welcome. They will be ever so grateful for such a reward. From their point of view, these cleaned souls will gaze upon this Telestial glory as an undeserving crown, considering their grotesque behavior on this planet.
This reward will be ironic. After the wicked have been purged of their grievous sins, they will be rewarded with a world very much like this one, since they could not abide a higher law, neither Celestial or Terrestrial. More or less, these souls will be right back were they started. However, it will be a world purged of death and evil.
Consider the simplest of pleasures we now enjoy: walking through the woods, fishing, basking in the warm sun, playing with our pets, enjoying the company of others, laughing over a joke, walking on the beach, hiking into the mountains, painting a picture, writing a poem. Compared to the majesty of the Celestial Kingdom, the Telestial glory shall be all this, a mere paradise, plain and simple.
As to the fantastical nature of Pandora, compared to this drab and dreary world, I say do a little exploring on your own of this planet. After many years of physical inactivity, I decided to resume exercising by taking long walks down to the nearby shores of the Puget Sound inlet where I once lived. Lo and behold, I encountered geese, and young hatchlings scurrying about. The next day, I witnessed an otter come splashing out onto the shore, and a rather big one at that. It's not every day you witness wildlife firsthand strictly reserved for documentaries. But this planet teems with undiscovered life and mysteries, no matter where you live. Go out and find your own Pandora. Buy a telescope. Celebrate this great star system we inhabit!
Note: Expand your horizons further. Go look up the word "Pandora" for the origins of its name [See "Pandora's Box" amid Greek Mythology]. Likewise, look up the very real star system it inhabits, Alpha Centauri, which sits a mere four light-years away. As a final venture, dig into the Pearl of Great Price, which contains many more revelations on the metaphysics of Heavenly Father's creations. May we all live worthily to enjoy the true nature of the universe.