Theology at the Movies: Mary Poppins

Theology at the Movies: Mary Poppins

When is the last time that you let yourself dream? I’m not talking about the calculated dreams that require zero risk, zero courage and zero adventure. Those aren’t dreams. Not real ones anyway. I want to know, when is the last time you allowed yourself to unleash a vision for your life that was so bold, offensively unapologetic, whimsical and bursting with Kingdom adventure?

Why don’t we let ourselves dream?

What are we so afraid of?

We are told, at far too early of an age if you ask me, to put away childish things. Dreaming is simply make-believe, they say. So instead we join Willie and Waylon and sing out our calculations, “Mamas don’t let your babies be cowboys. Make them be doctors and lawyers and such.”

Instead of dreaming we create plans.

We structure the life right out of our life.

But I think God invites us to something far more magical than our puny structured 10-year plan. And if you ask me, we actually don’t need to put away childish things at all. I think we actually need to learn from the kiddos. They are wildly more open to dreaming AND doing than we old curmudgeons could ever be. Our dreams are stuffed in the attic collecting dust while the children are animating their dreams with grass-stained jeans and skinned knees.

When is the last time your jeans were stained green with grass?

When was the last time you wore a kool-aid mustache?

Kids are some of our best teachers because they are the ones who see beyond that which is to what could be. Kids are the ones who take an ordinary baseball card and tape it to the spokes of their bike to turn it into a motorcycle. They’re the ones who see a pile of blankets and can transform it into a blanket-fort. Where we see trees as good for oxygen, kids see them as castle tower limbs upon which to climb. When invited by Jesus to the adventure of following the leader, kids are sprinting to the front of the line. But when we adults are invited to the very same adventure, we ask a bunch of really important questions like how much is it going to cost me? where are we going? who’s going? when will we return?  Or we simply postpone the entire idea with a lazy, “maybe later”.

I think we’re in desperate need of a jolly holiday. And who’s a better holiday partner than Mary Poppins herself?!

One of my favorite scenes in this film perfectly communicates this idea of dreaming and doing. I’ll set it up for you a bit..

Mary is the nanny to Michael and Jane and she takes them out for an afternoon in park. Whilst at the park they run into Bert, a longtime friend of Mary, who is busy detailing colored chalk scenes of adventure on the sidewalks of the park. Michael and Jane curiously ask about the drawings and Bert invites them to dream of a place they’d like to go. But it doesn’t just end with dreaming. With a little help from Mary, they jump right into their sidewalk chalk daydreams and supercalifragilitisticexpialidotiousally live them out. Dreaming is great, but to animate them you actually have to jump in. And it looks a little something like this…

So I ask you again, dear friend, when is the last time you let yourself dream? What is the sidewalk chalk scene of your life that is beckoning you to jump in? If you’re waiting for permission to play in the land of make-believe, here it is! Jesus wants to set you out on adventure and I know you want to go. Grab a piece of sidewalk chalk and blow off the cobwebs that are blanketing your hopes. The world needs you, your creativity, your dreams and your whimsy. Let yourself enjoy the jolly holiday!

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Note: If you’re interested in hearing this post in sermon-style, check out my sermon, “Dreamers & Doers” by following this link: https://whchurch.org/sermon/dreamers-and-doers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theology at the Movies: Blood Diamond

Theology at the Movies: Blood Diamond

I was in first grade and I wanted my hair done in pig-tail braids. That particular day I was wearing my brand new Mickey Mouse suspenders and they demanded pig-tail braids. It was going to be the best day of school ever.

My three other sisters were hogging our small bathroom, time was short before the school bus would pull up to our yellow rambler and mom was frantically trying to get us all out the door. Bless mothers of small elementary age children. They’re angels sent from heaven with a capacity for mayhem that would make gladiators cry like babies.

As the chaos ensued I sat quietly on the floor by the bathroom door, hoping mom would just get the hint that I needed my hair braided. Before she caught on to my subtleties the bus was honking at the end of our driveway. My sisters flew out the door and mom was nudging me along behind them. With crocodile tears welling in my eyes I said, “But I wanted pig-tail braids!” With righteous frustration, mom tossed my hair in a pony and that was the end of it.

I hated when mom got crabby. I know, I know. everyone gets crabby, impatient, frustrated. We’ve all totally lost our shit from time to time. It’s life. But I was a 6 years old kid and on that day, in my little brain, I internalized my mom’s frustration and my first false identity was formed. I thought, if I’m perfect, then mom will never get impatient.

And so, perfectionism was born.

We all have stories of false identities. At far too early of an age we learn these identities so thoroughly and carefully that sometimes we think they’re actually true to who we are.  I’m Brianna and I’m a perfectionist.

What does your false identity tell you? Don’t be afraid, we’ve all got them. Far better to own it than continue the charade is what I say. Under our masks we’re just a promenade of failures, screw-ups, drop-outs, addicts, too much, not enough, worthless, cheater, liar, deceiver…

But then one day, in the midst of the noise of our masquerade ball we hear the sound of something different. This something is unfamiliar and yet familiar. It’s like a voice, one that is so far yet so real we cannot help but turn our ears in hopes of making out the words of the whisperer. As we turn we begin to hear it more clearly.

Can you hear it? Do you know what it is? Dare I say it’s the greatest longing of every human heart.

It’s the sound of our name. Our true name. Called to us by the one from whom we were created.

The transformation of self that occurs when we hear the sound of our true identity is a powerful gift. It’s a gift offered to all of us and it’s ours if we wish to receive it.

This is where our movie clip comes in. Now, there are a plethora of theological conversations wrapped up in the film Blood Diamond. We could discuss war, violence, injustice, the diamond business. But I chose to discuss identity. Why? Well, this clip will say all that needs to be said. Check it out…

Gorgeous, right?

Friend, what masks are you wearing? You look pretty tired from wearing them so long. Mind if I help you take them off? I need help too. Together, let’s turn our ears to the one who calls us by name.

Bob Goff is one of my favorite human beings on the planet. You should really get to know him. On identity he says this, “Don’t let other people decide who you are.” Isn’t that refreshing? He also goes on to say, “Don’t let your past push you around anymore. We’re new creations.” Gold. Pure gold, I tell you.

I think this clip from Blood Diamond demonstrates the power of hearing our true identity. Young Dia Vandy was kidnapped from his home at a young age by rebel forces and brainwashed into becoming a hardened child soldier. Dia was forced to take on a false identity. Once known as a beloved member of the Mende tribe, he came to believe he was a murderer. Only by the voice of his father reminding him of his name is Dia liberated from his false identity back into his true self.

Dear reader, you’ve got a big life to live! Don’t let your past push you around anymore. This life needs your true self. Come, let us encourage one another to listen to the familiar whisper of our name. You are loved. You are enough. You are a new creation. You are made new. You are liberated. Join the epic adventure that can only be lived out with unveiled faces!