Theology at the Movies: Moana

Theology at the Movies: Moana

I used to have a really hard heart. The kind of heart that was rebellious, closed and obnoxiously self-protected. During this time I subconsciously abandoned all the things that I love. Things like romance, connectedness and being known. You know, the very things that are simultaneously the source of great joy and potential heartache. I also, for some odd reason or another, shut down all affections toward the more peculiar loves in my life – namely, Elvis, Disney movies, vintage romantic musicals and terribly cheesy songs. I bid farewell to all these jewels. Oh my prison of protection was strong, ya’ll. Horrifically strong.

But then the Spirit broke through my stoney self-protection and gave me this new, drippy heart of flesh. And with this new heart all my former loves came flooding in. Elvis sings to me on a daily basis and I hang out with The Man From Snowy River at least a dozen times during the Christmas season. I want all my people to be joined by the darling little app knowns as ‘Find Friends’ and what’s even crazier still, apparently I now wanna be a mama. (Warning! Use caution when you let the Spirit open you up. She’ll shock you with all these new desires you didn’t even think of. This PSA brought to you by the woman who regularly joked about tying her tubes.)

All this to say, I’m watching movies with different eyes and I’m seeing theology show up all over the place. So it only makes sense to create a thread of posts devoted to two things I love dearly: Theology and Movies.

First up on the watch list is Walt Disney’s, Moana. (PS, we’ll be hanging a bunch with Walt. And at the end of these posts I’ll lead a “Theology and Movies” trip to Disneyland… JK. But wouldn’t that be one of the happiest trips on earth?!)

The synopsis goes like this:

Daughter to the island chief, Moana is the only navigator courageous enough to voyage away from the island in valiant effort to restore the heart of the mother island, Te Fiti,  which was stolen ages ago by the demigod, Maui. Without her heart, Te Fiti’s island deteriorated into a hardened darkness, no longer empowered to bring forth the vibrant, verdant life she once generously provided.

On her epic adventure Moana finds Maui and demands he help her in restoring the heart of Te Fiti. As they sail toward the mother island challenges ensue and nearly entirely thwart their mission. But with a perseverance only legends speak of, Moana sets her gaze upon the task before her and sails on through the many odds stacked against her. With the power of knowing her inner strength alongside the desire to call forth Te Fiti’s true identity, Moana finally makes it to the mother island.

Unscathed by Te Fiti’s calloused exterior, Moana asks the ocean to allow Te Fiti to come forward. The sea is parted in two and Moana boldly walks toward Te Fiti, singing into being her truth, beauty and life.

Go grab the box of tissues and check this out:

 

I know your name.

They have stolen the heart from inside you.

But this does not define you. This is not who you are.

You know who you are.

Gah! I sob. Every. Single. Time. Undoubtedly my tears come unglued because this movie taps into so much of my own narrative. But I also think it touches on something much larger than this. You see, I believe this story of restoration is communal in nature. Every one of us has areas of our hearts that are calloused and closed. Deep wounds, lies of the enemy, insecurities, the voices of society, broken relationships… all of these experiences cause us to hide behind our little walls of self-protection.

And there is grace for this. Lots of grace.

The crazy thing about the grace that blankets our journey is that the power of grace itself does not allow us to remain in our lifeless state. Isn’t that insanely lovely?! Grace empowers us to do that which we cannot do on our own. God gives us community to support one another along the way. We need each other to call out the truth of who we really are, we all need Moana’s in our life and we all have the chance to be Moana for one another. And as we engage in this reciprocity of grace we become a band of love and light, singing songs of liberation from every false identity.

So go, gather your friends and kiddos around the tube. It’s the perfect fall day to cozy up with a blanket, hot cocoa and Moana. Let us sing without apology the truth of who we really are. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are a warrior. You are beautiful. You are more than enough. You are not your past. You are God’s beloved.