Disney’s Moana is Everything The Little Mermaid Should Have Been

This past Thursday my wife and I went out to see “Moana” in theaters as a part of our weekly date night routine. The movie was wonderfully made with amazing art, music, and a terriffic story that I will try not to spoil here. Needless to say, you should definitely go see it if you have the chance.

The reason I am taking the time to write about Moana is that, while watching the film, I was struck with a thought that I think is worth sharing. That thought is this, “Moana is everything the Little Mermaid should have been.”

What do I mean by this?

Well first off let me explain what I like and what I hate about the Little Mermaid. This animated Disney film came out in 1989 and is said to have jump started the “Disney Renaissance” of the 1990’s. It is about a little mermaid named Arial who wants to live on the surface world and is willing to do just about anything to get there. While the music is amazing and the animation is beautiful, the message of the Little Mermaid is one of the worst things you can tell little girls.

Here’s the basic plot of the Little Mermaid, in case you forgot:

  • Ariel is a princess who is unsatisfied living under the ocean and wants more.
  • One day she sees a human prince named Derek on a boat. She immediately falls in love with him even thought the two have never spoken.
  • Against the wishes of her father and again the advice of her friends, Ariel literally sells her voice to a sea-witch in order to get a pair of legs and impress the man she saw on the boat.
  • Ariel ends up endangering everyone she loves under the sea to chase this man around, but in the end everything works out because the prince stabs the sea witch with his boat.
  • No one learns a lesson and Ariel’s selfishness and reckless abandon is rewarded with her receiving everything the ever wanted.

You can probably see why I don’t like this movie. Moana, on the other hand, seems almost to be an apology for the Little Mermaid. There are many surface level similarities in these stories about two “princesses” who want to leave home and embark on a mystical aquatic adventure, the difference however lies in the lessons they teach.

Let’s look at Moana’s basic plot (as spoiler free as possible) and see where it deviates from the Little Mermaid:

  • Moana is a chief’s daughter who has a desire to explore the world beyond her tropical island home, but who also decides to accept her responsibilities and find happiness where she is.
  • One day Moana finds out that her island home is dying, and the only way to save it is to go on a mission which will take her across the sea to a distant land. Her father does not want Moana to leave, but for the good of her people she sets out on a journey to restore the balance of nature.
  • Moana learns to be self-sufficient, while also learning the value of friendship and the importance of being true to yourself, your family, and your community.
  • SPOILER: In the end, the bad guy is not killed by Maui the demigod, but rather is spared and redeemed by Moana’s kindness and bravery.
  • In the end just about every major character learns a valuable lesson.

Very similar stories, but very different messages. The Little Mermaid is about a girl who wanted more, who was willing to seek out what she wanted at all costs, and who was ultimately rewarded for endangering herself and others while neglecting the advice of everyone who cares about her. Moana is about a girl who wanted more, but was willing to find happiness wherever she was. It is about a girl who had to learn to trust herself and who ultimately found her place in the world by living selflessly and boldly, risking everything to save the ones she loved.

Whether we realize it or not, the stories we tell (or show) our children shape their worldview. Children are learning how the world works and how they should treat others by looking at the examples we set before them. While I don’t yet have any children of my own, I do know that I would much rather have them look up to Moana than Ariel.

When A False Teacher Meets a Loving Pastor

Thomas Scott is a famous preacher, teacher, as well as the author of an extensive commentary which covers the entire Bible. When reading Scott’s commentary and sermons it is hard to believe that he was ever anything other than a sound biblical expositor. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

In the 1770s, Scott was a locally well-known pastor who preached in the English villages of Ravenstone and Weston Underwood. While claiming to be a loyal member of the Church of England, Thomas Scott was actually a heretical teacher of the highest order.

The list of essential doctrines which Thomas Scott openly denied included:

  • The Trinity.
  • Substitutionary Atonement
  • The Existence of Hell
  • Orginal Sin
  • The Final Judgement
  • Regeneration of the Holy Spirit

As if his heretical doctrines were not enough, Thomas Scott could not even be said to be a compassionate man.  As a pastor, he later admitted that he had cared nothing for his congregation. Scott would later confess that he became a minister because he thought it would be an easy way to earn a living. The truth was that Scott rarely interacted with his congregation apart from when it was absolutely essential. He even went so far as to avoid visiting those who were ill and on their deathbed, which would ultimately be his undoing.

One day, Thomas Scott got word that a preacher named John Newton was encroaching on his territory. Apparently, Newton had been visiting members of Scott’s congregation who were ill or on the verge of death in order to provide comfort in their time of trial. Thomas Scott was concerned that Newton was merely trying to steal his congregation, but rather than confronting John Newton in person,  Scott went on a smear campaign. He listened to Newton’s preaching and began to write the preacher with theological objections. He did this frequently, but instead of  arguing with Scott, Newton simply responded to each scathing criticism by mailing Scott simple explanations of the gospel. Newton prayed for Scott often and assured him that one day he would come to agree with what Newton believed. Slowly but surely Scott’s mind and heart were warming up to John Newton and his genuine faith.

In 1777, when he was going through a time of great despair, Thomas Scott found himself with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. In desperation, Scott sought out John Newton for council and comfort. By the end of the ordeal, Scott had repented of his sins and embraced true faith in Christ and the Christian doctrines he had formally rejected.

Later, when John Newton left his church in Olney to pastor in London, it was Thomas Scott, his former enemy who took his place as the preacher of the gospel and minister of the flock.

Britt Merrick on “The Upside Down Kingdom of God”

 “The kingdom of God does not conform to conventional standards of importance, power, and influence—in effect, it’s an upside-down kingdom. Jesus announced the coming of a kingdom that will right every wrong and undo evil, but He didn’t choose the politically powerful or recruit the influential to join. Jesus didn’t go to the elite of Jerusalem; instead He went to a handful of socially insignificant guys in an unnoticed corner of Galilee. Jesus chose men for His disciples who were as normal as you could find in first-century Jerusalem. The disciples were flawed, proud, self-seeking, weak, shortsighted, and inhospitable men.

When Jesus taught and the crowd got hungry, the disciples’ solution was to send them away. When some little children were presented before Jesus for blessing, the disciples rebuked the people who brought them. When a messenger of Jesus was barred from entering a Samaritan village, the disciples asked if they could call down fire to destroy the villagers. And while Jesus agonized in prayer before His crucifixion in the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples fell asleep.

Jesus did not choose followers who were already great people. He chose raw material that He could reshape for a great purpose. Jesus’ call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John wasn’t “Follow Me because you are …” His call was “Follow Me, and I will make you become …” Jesus would take the only trade and context these men knew and make them fishers of men.”

– Exerpt From “God Speed” by Britt Merrick

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Britt Merrick  (Literally The First Picture That Comes Up When You Google Him) 

 

6 Quick Post-Election Thoughts

Today is unfortunately not one of those days where I have an abundance of time to sit down and write. It has been a crazy few weeks, which is why almost all my posts have been quotes and not my own original thoughts. I did, however, want to take a moment to give some post-election thoughts. Forgive me if they seem a little scatterbrained.

1. Christians, we must strive to live at peace with these results: Romans 13 needs to be read and re-read today. God has chosen to allow Mr. Tump to win the Presidency. He is an extremely controversial man, but for better of for worse he will be our President in 2017.As Christians, we must seek to live in peace with our governing authorities while giving them the honor and respect that their position is due.

2. Christians, be in prayer: Now is the time to be in serious prayer for our nation, its leaders, and all the people under their authority. Pray regardless of whether you are pleased by these results or not.

3. Christians, ultimately we remembered that God is on the throne: God will hold Mr. Trump accountable for how he leads, and God will hold us accountable for how we respond to his leadership. Our hope is not in earthly rulers or earthly powers, but in Jesus Christ and the eternal Kingdom of God.

4. Christians, we must use this as a moment to love: If you are a white straight protestant male like myself a Trump Presidency may concern you, but for many of our neighbors who fall into any other category a Trump Presidency may be genuinely terrifying. Be quick to offer a kind word today and be willing to listen to the fears and frustrations of your neighbors. Now is the time to love. Be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to show mercy, grace, and kindness.

5. Christians, now is the time to instill hope in something greater than politics:  Imagine if you were a liberal secularist right now. You do not believe in a sovereign God, a coming Kingdom, or anything beyond the here and now. You just witnessed a party that you perceive to be backward thinking and harmful take over the House, Senate, and the Presidency. A man that you perceive to be truly evil and cruel now holds the highest office in the land. Where does your hope come from?  This is just one of many examples of people who will be looking for something to believe in and something to hold onto in the coming days. Be prepared to show them the hope and peace that passes all understanding.

6. Christians, now is not the time for gloating:  While I was not a fan of Mr. Trump at any point in this election cycle, I know many of you were strong and enthusiastic supporters. I realize that supporting Mr. Trump was likely difficult and that now, in light of his victory, it can be tempting to “rub it in our face.” I would discourage this, and not simply because I happen to disagree with you on political issues. I would discourage this because, as a representative of Christ, we should not default to arrogant mockery. We should not use our words to harm others, even if they previously used their words to harm us.  John Wesley wrote the following concerning how Christians should approach government elections:

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1) To vote… for the person they judged most worthy.
2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Soli Deo Gloria & May God bless!

Wilhelmus à Brakel on “The Essence of Religion”

“God possesses within Himself all glory and worthiness to be served, even if there were no creature. No creature could have its existence, except it be of Him and through Him. By its very existence the creature is obligated to God’s majesty to exist for the purpose of serving God, having its origin in Him and existing by virtue of His influence. If this creature is rational, then God, because He is God, obligates him who has been placed directly under his Creator to honor and serve God and devote his entire existence to Him… the form or essence of religion consists of man’s knowledge, recognition, and heart-felt endorsement of this binding obligation, which is to live unto God at all times and in all things with all that he is and is capable of performing. This is so because He is God and by virtue of His nature this is His worthy due.”

– Wilhelmus à Brakel

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Wilhelmus a Brakel

 

 

John Calvin on Romans 8:26

“That the faithful may not make this objection ― that they are so weak as not to be able to bear so many and so heavy burdens, he brings before them the aid of the Spirit, which is abundantly sufficient to overcome all difficulties. There is then no reason for any one to complain, that the bearing of the cross is beyond their own strength, since we are sustained by a celestial power.”

– John Calvin

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John Calvin

Andrew Murray on Humility

“Pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness. Even so it was, when the Serpent breathed the poison of his pride-the desire to be as God-into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride-self-exaltation-is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of hell.  Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption but the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In heaven He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death”; His humility gave His death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit-His own humility-as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.”

– Andrew Murray (from “Humility”)

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Andrew Murray