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 really don’t need to put away childish things at all. Maybe, just maybe, what we need is 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!


Note: If you’re interested in hearing this post in sermon-style, check out my sermon, “Dreamers & Doers” by following this link:








Where Does One Begin?

Where Does One Begin?

Starting a new blog is kind of a big deal. Not in the all-too-confident Ron Burgundy kind of way. No, this feels more like the first day of school. The first day of high school for that matter. You know what I mean – when you spend the entire night before school starts, thinking about what you’re going to wear, hyperventilating about the very real possibility of not finding your locker, and then when you do, potentially getting shoved into it by a ruthless upper class jock. Yeah… that’s how it feels with this first post on my new blog.

Except, I never really worried about finding or not finding my locker, nor was I ever scared of upper class punks. (I may have been slightly dramatic with that opening description.) Maybe writing this initial post doesn’t feel anything like the first day of high school after all.

The truth is, I feel quite cozy here. And I’m excited to share this space with you. Yet I find myself asking, Where do I begin???

I think I’ll start rather generically. Let us commence this confetti party with some vision casting.

FIRST…. I really hope for this to be a space where I can offer encouragement and you, dear reader, feel free to receive.

In my 20’s I was many things, not least of which a high school girls cross-country coach. I thrived in this role. Turns out, coaching is just what I do. I love (I mean, seriously love) encouraging people in whatever it is they’re about. I’m a huge fan of the peeps in my life. They’re doing insanely amazing things. Allow me to brag for one hot minute about the many precious “My’s” – My nieces are volleyball champs, musical geniuses, brainiacs, and side-splitting comedians. My nephews are farm boy studs, wildly imaginative, unruly and some of my favorite buddies. My mom and sisters are insanely creative in a plethora of ways. My dad(s) are heroic. My girlfriends are the most amazing women I know (we’re like Jem and the Holograms, but way cooler.).  My students, oh gosh. I’m so proud of them. I could go on and on. Cheering others along this grand adventure called life, well it’s just in my blood. And so, one part of the vision for this space is to extend encouragement. High-fives all around…

SECOND…I also envision this space to be a musing ground for theological curiosities.

I am a professor of theology, so matters of faith are always on my mind. I’d like to dialogue with you about eschatology. And when we do I’ll interact a bunch with Jurgen Moltmann. Because, well, it’s Moltmann. Then we’ll talk about the Kingdom and I’ll engage with Greg Boyd. Because, it’s GB and GB’s my theology Miyagi. And I’m sure we’ll discuss eco-ethics, pneumatology, mysticism, etc. and I’ll engage with the ladies. Because, well, the BASM (shorthand for Bad Ass Spiritual Mamas) have a pulse on spiritual matters in a different way than the desert fathers.

THIRD…We’ll also do some serious girl talk.

Because I’ve found over the years, that if you really want an experience with Jesus you go to the margins. And for far too long women have been on the outskirts of society. And yet, we persevere. Our battle in the margins has trained us as the guides. It was, after all, the women who first discovered that not even the grave could hold Jesus, and then went on to become the first to proclaim the resurrection. It was, after all, a woman who wasted costly perfume by anointing the feet of Jesus because she understood that Jesus was about to die. It was, after all, a woman who was brave enough to crawl through the crowds on hands and knees and boldly beg for healing. It was, after all, a woman who  rose to the adventure of discipleship during a time when such a vocation was reserved for men. It was, after all, a woman who courageously lived into the vulnerable state of being known and, from the place of being known she left her shame behind by racing into the town to preach about a man who knew everything about her. So, yeah, we’ll be doing some girl talkin’.

FOURTH… My hope is that I’ll be able to faithfully keep theory and praxis wed together.

When we talk theory, we’ll also talk praxis. When we talk about eschatology, we’ll dream about what this looks like in the day-to-day. When we talk about prayer, we’ll break down its Kingdom-Bringing power into bite size pieces. When we talk about atonement, we’ll spur one another on to live into the new creations that we already are. Theory and Praxis, baby. It’s the best combination since nachos and hot sauce. Or something like that anyway. We’ll talk theory and we’ll get practical.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST… I really hope to inspire you, dear reader, to choose whimsy. To dream big. To live courageously into this big beautiful life God has gifted to us. May we participate with hopeful hearts in the Kingdom that is ever coming to earth, just as it is in heaven.

This is my vision. A vision in process. We’ll see how it actually plays out. After 35 years of life I’ve concluded that my big dreams are often actualized quite differently than those which play so vividly in my heart.

I’m so glad you’re along to help guide this thing into all her whimsical glory.