Four Lessons I Learned from Disney
- Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Recently, Allen Yeh wrote an article titled, "Why Disney Princesses are Bad", where he asserted that Disney's portrayal of princesses sends a harmful message to little girls. I really enjoyed reading the article, though I think calling The little Mermaid "Faustian" was going a bit overboard (no pun intended). Still, the article did get me thinking. You see, I grew up as the only boy in a house full of girls, so I got acquainted with the Disney princesses at an early age. Once in a while though, I'd get control of movie night, and we'd watch my favorites like Aladdin, Robin Hood, and The Lion King.
As I trolled through Yeh's article, it amazed me how different our experiences had been. For me, the Disney heroes served as role models during my early walk with Christ, teaching me lessons I often failed to learn at Sunday school. In fact, it was partly thanks to these movies that I learned what it meant to be a man after God's own heart. Maybe its nostalgia talking, or maybe I just feel obligated to defend the Disney classics, either way; I want to share the lessons I learned with you, the four qualities of a true Christian.
1 Showing Courage
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9
At some point we've all read Joshua 1:9, where God calls us to be "strong and courageous". Unfortunately, many of us have a hard time understanding the difference between "courage" and "toughness". In the beginning of The Lion King, Simba makes the same mistake. He wants to be brave like his father, so he breaks the rules and sneaks into the Elephant's Graveyard, where he and Nala get chased by hyenas. In one of the movie's best scenes, Mufasa arrives and sends the hyenas running with their tails between their legs, but then turns his attention on Simba. Mufasa scolds Simba for putting himself and his friends in danger, but also gently explains that being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble. Even as a kid, I can remember being captivated by those words. True courage isn't just about being strong; it's about taking responsibility for your actions, and doing what's right even when you're afraid. Sometimes, it's the small choices in our lives that require the most courage.
2 Acting Justly
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8
I was never very good at memorizing Bible verses, but for some reason I've always been able to remember Micah 6:8. Appropriate, I think, since it fits well with my favorite Disney movie, Aladdin. You'll remember, Aladdin falls in love with Jasmine after rescuing her off the street, but since she's a princess, she's basically out of his league. So naturally, the first thing he does after releasing the Genie is wish to become a prince, but he also makes a promise. "I'll use my last wish to set you free." He tells the Genie. Things don't go as planned though, Jafar gets a hold of the lamp and undo's all of Aladdin's wishes. Even after Aladdin defeats Jafar and saves Agrabah, he still has decide between staying with Jasmine and keeping his promise. The Genie offers to let Aladdin off the hook, but Aladdin chooses to do the right thing and frees the Genie with his final wish. How many of us have ever been in that situation? We desperately want something, even though it'll cost someone else. Then, just like the Genie, that person gives us the excuse we're looking for. It's easy in those moments to take what we want, but that is not the kind of person God calls us to be. Selfishness has no place in the Christian lifestyle. Instead, we are to act justly, keeping our promises and treating others as we hope to be treated.
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