Disney & Theology

I know there’s a book out there called the Gospel According to Disney and there are others, like the Gospel according to the Simpsons… But I was at Disneyworld for a fantastic vacation with my wife, parents, sisters and their families last week. We had a great time, but was struck by the overarching story of Disney shows. They have really packaged a message that people want to hear.

Its pretty simple and we all know it…
There is a character that is usually down and out in some way: a princess that can’t wake up, a fish who has lost his son, a mouse who has all the evil disney characters fighting against him. The character ends up overcoming incredible odds to win the day. At Disneyworld this usually happens in one of two ways: through imagination, or through believing.

Usually you are supposed to believe in yourself, or believe that you are going to receive what you want, and you’ll get it. This is what the audience is supposed to do. Never mind the courage or hard work of the well meaning Disney character – its really all about having your heart in the right place. Where did this idea come from? Is this a secularized version of Christian theology?

Justification by faith, not works. Disney’s got it right in one respect, its all about believing. But its not about faith in yourself, or about wishing on a star to make your dreams come true. Its about faith in Christ and being right with God – its about a relationship with God through believing in Jesus.

Sometimes we think the problem is that people think they have to earn their way into heaven. This is sometimes the problem. But the other problem is that people think that if they just believe, they’ll get what they want. Maybe people used to apply this to God, but now its applied to belief in general. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it if you really believe. Sorry, Disney, life isn’t like that. People want to hear it, which is why places like Disneyworld and Churches that tell you that “when you wish upon Jesus, your dreams will come true” are packed all the time. Its a message of great hope for people. Unfortunately, its a false hope.

Really when we believe (ie trust) in Jesus, God’s dreams are coming true (okay, I might be stretching it a bit here). But at the very least, we start to participated in God’s dream, or our dreams start to become more in line with what God wants for us and the world.

Anyway – it was a fun trip.

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