Monday, September 9, 2013

Movie review: "Birders:The Central Park Effect", comments on creation & biophilia

E. Prata photo
"Birders: The Central Park Effect" is a movie about, well birds and the people who look at them.

Each spring when the great migration of birds from the southern climes in Central & South America migrate north to Canada to breed, and then in the fall when they migrate south to their homes in the south again, huge flocks of birds descend on Manhattan's Central Park. Of the millions which pass over, thousands at any given day will choose to swoop down and take their several day rest in the greenery that is this magnificent park. The northeast corridor is pretty well filled with wall-to-wall cities, and Central Park is just too good of a stopping place to ignore.

This one-hour film is a documentary which documents this fact, it reveals what drives birders who stumble around the woods looking up with binoculars, and it lovingly and lushly films the stars of the show: the birds.
E. Prata photo

One woman who is featured is Starr Saphir. (pronounced, sapphire). Starr has been leading bird-watching tours of the Park for almost 40 years. Her love for the park, for birds, and for leading people to birds is evident in her voice and eyes as she describes the winged creatures that she has counted and the beauty she has been privileged to share with newcomers to the hobby.

The documentary opens with Spring, and the birds' arrival. It chronicles the park in all four seasons and ends with spring again. The people interviewed range from famous (novelist Jonathan Rosen) to anonymous bird lovers. About 200 species stop by the park during Migration, about a quarter of all species found in the US.

The star of the show is the nature that is presented as the backdrop for the birds, all the more remarkable for being totally man-made. (Central Park is totally man-made and carefully managed, down to switches which govern the pipes that gush water from pretend brooks and streams). A few sobering facts are given, for example, that in the last four years, (the movie was released in 2012), bird counts of many different species has been dropping by as much as 50%. The documentary however thankfully stays away from preaching ecology, and simply lets the birds and their watchers be the star of the show. One thing I really enjoyed was that since this documentary is set in New York City, and most New Yorkers are highly literate, these people could speak well and used language in almost poetic and vivid ways.
E. Prata photo

For example, of the birds, one man said "I realized the trees were hung with ornaments!" Like that.

For Christians, within the first 6 minutes, there are three objectionable comments:

--Oh My God!
--Holy frikken Moses!

Both of the above occur at 2:20 into it.

--and one man used the real f-word. (6:41 into it)

After that, there is no language, no adult situations, no innuendo, and no one is underdressed. It is an interesting little documentary and a pretty movie. I recommend it.

As far as spiritual matters go, I have some additional thoughts. All the people interviewed and even those who weren't but were simply filmed, brave the cold, the rain, their schedules, all to go look at a bird in the wild. Why?

One man attempted to explain this innate attraction to nature, by saying that "the birds awaken something in my soul. If I had one." He wasn't joking.

Another interviewee said that he feels strongly attached to the Park as well. He said that the nature there soothes him and he feels more complete when he is there, among the birds. He said that scientists have a name for this feeling: "biophilia."

The Online Free Dictionary defines biophilia as a psychological term, "an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind"

The biophilia hypothesis is stated on Wikipedia as "an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life". The term "biophilia" literally means "love of life or living systems." It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with nature are rooted in our biology."

Yes. Deep affiliations with nature are rooted in us. Genesis 1 and Romans 1 shows us this. We do not need modern psychology to coin a term and explain the obvious.

In Genesis 1, God created man, and set Him in the perfect Garden, and gave him a command to take care of it and to name and take care of the animals. God revealed Himself in creation and since we are made in His image we share that affinity with creation, and also are a part of it. (Genesis 1:26-30, Genesis 2:15, Romans 1:20, Romans 1:23).

As Adam, He made us in His image, and since he had instilled in Adam a command to take care of His creation. When Adam and Eve sinned, he ejected them from the Garden and cursed the ground. Even though we have a sin nature now and try to exercise dominion of the earth thru flesh, and do it badly, we still possess that innate love for creation and the instinct to shepherd it. However also because we have a sin nature, satan corrupts our tie with the natural world, from gentle shepherding as creatures made in His image, to idolaters worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. Satan claims our flesh nature and corrupts what is a natural feeling of love for the One who created the creation, including ourselves, part of that creation and creatures we are.
E. Prata photo

So biophilia is a fun-to-say psychology word and not much else. It stops there. It simply acknowledges the affinity we have with creation, but does not acknowledge the creator. The interviewees in the documentary acknowledged their attraction to nature, acknowledged the beauty of the birds, acknowledged the wonder of precise migration patterns, but did not acknowledge the Creator who made it all.

It's not biophilia. It's God. And praise Him for it all!

"O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." (Psalm 104:24)

E. Prata photo


Further reading:

What the bible says about God and the natural world

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful picture at the end Elizabeth

    God Bless


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