Maleficent – Not the story you’ve been told

 discernment, righteousness, Taking Disney Captive to Christ, victory, vigilance  Comments Off on Maleficent – Not the story you’ve been told
Jun 212014

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 5

Maleficent opened in theaters three weekends ago as a tantalizing twist on a timeless tale; innovative, visually stunning, well-acted, provocative…and dangerously wrong!

Maleficent wings

(spoiler-alert! this article reveals plot details)

As a Literature major at Wheaton College in Chicago, I studied Folk Literature under Gary Rundquist, and learned that “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” is a centuries-old fairy tale in which an evil and envious fairy named Maleficent curses the infant Princess Aurora, sentencing her to die by finger prick on her 16th birthday. Good fairy Merryweather ameliorates, but cannot undo, the curse; Aurora will not die, but only sleep for 100 years, or until awakened by true love’s kiss. The whole kingdom will sleep as well to spare them the agony of her absence.

Before we go forward, let’s be clear on a fundamental literary reality:  fiction does not always equal falsehood, and non-fiction does not always equal truth.

Though fictitious, the main purpose of fairy tales is to convey universal moral truths in an entertaining and memorable fashion. A fairy tale consists of a simple narrative dealing with supernatural beings, told for the amusement (mostly) of children (but also for adults).

Throughout the ages, names have been extremely important in fairy tales, as they are in the Bible. “Maleficent” means, “being, and wanting to do, evil; harmfully malicious.” This is her name. This is who she is. She is not a human woman. She is an evil fairy; a supernatural character.

In Disney’s latest iteration, Maleficent starts out pure and innocent, then becomes evil because of mistreatment, only to redeem herself and become good again. But there is no truth in that tale! Supernatural characters, such as fairies and trolls are literary representations of the very real spiritual powers and principalities at work in our world. Some are good. Some are evil. But none are both beneficent and maleficent.

In the works of J.R.R. Tolkein (ie. the Lord of the Rings trilogy), all supernatural characters are either good or bad, while human characters are both good and bad – in keeping with clear Bible teaching.

The only supernatural beings who ever supposedly started out good and chose to become evil are the pridefully rebellious archangel Lucifer (better known as Satan or the Devil) and those angels who followed him in the fall (demons). “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9) As harsh as it might seem from our limited earthly perspective, there’s no going back, no redemption, for them.

Fairy tales have always been malleable; stamped with a timeless literary admonition “Bend, but do not break.” Most of the fairy tales we know – Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc. – have existed in a variety of forms, some much more violent than their modern counterparts, while retaining a central moral message.

Disney’s uplifting and powerful 1959 animated classic got it right; clearly portraying that virtue, truth, and righteousness will overcome the forces of evil.

Prince Phillip (the Christ figure in the story because he puts his life on the line for Princess Aurora and the whole cursed kingdom – greater love has no man…) Prince Phillip sword and shieldis outfitted for the deadly battle by the good fairy Flora, who says, “Wait, Prince Phillip. The road to true love may be barred by still many more dangers, which you alone will have to face. So arm thyself with this enchanted Shield of Virtue, and this mighty Sword of Truth, for these weapons of righteousness will triumph over evil. Now come, we must hurry.” (His shield clearly bears a cross)

During their fight, Maleficent further reveals her true nature by invoking the powers of hell and transforming into a gigantic, fire-breathing dragon. This same creature appears nightly on the Rivers of America at Disneyland during the Fantasmic show. It is a frightening sight. Here’s how the scene plays in the 1959 animated feature:

[Prince Phillip cuts through the forest of thorns and rides toward King Stefan’s castle]
Maleficent: No! It cannot be!

dragon fire[transforms herself into a whirlwind and appears in front of Phillip, blocking his path]
Maleficent: Now, shall you deal with ME, O Prince – and all the powers of HELL!
[laughing, she transforms herself into a huge dragon; Phillip charges]

shield of virtuePrince Phillip defeats the dragon with his weapons of righteousness (see Ephesians 6), and, having proven his selfless love, overcomes the curse and awakens (resurrects) the princess and the kingdom.

In the 2014 retelling, Maleficent does not turn into a dragon, but rather orders her crow to play that part (perpetuating the charade that she is good deep down inside). In 2014, Prince Phillip is superfluous, not fighting for Aurora, and not wanting to kiss her because he just met her (a good point to make, but out of context with the deeper meanings of the classic story). Once he does kiss her, she remains asleep. Apparently there is no such thing as true love to break the spell. But wait, the much-maligned Maleficent’s matronly forehead kiss does wake Aurora! And so, the one who suffered so, and whose evil is therefore justified, the one who cursed Aurora to death in the first place in a fit of rage, becomes the blessed one who resurrects her. Isn’t that nice?

The End. Clap-clap-clap.

Trailers for the film tease audiences with, “you know the tale; now find out the truth.” One can almost hear the hisses in Eden, “Did God really say…?” (see Genesis 3)

Maleficent 2014 is dangerously wrong because it is beautiful, heart-wrenching, compelling, and as such, deadens our discernment to the reality that maleficent supernatural beings will always seek our harm, are never to be trusted, given hospitality, or even pitied, but rather are to be called what they are and opposed to the death with weapons of righteousness.the dragonThe Thinking Christian Woman is not ignorant of the Serpent’s (Dragon’s) disguises and devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Thinking Christian Woman knows that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Maleficent 2014 opens with the tantalizing words, “this isn’t the story you’ve been told.” What it never admits is that we have not been told this story because it has no lasting value, no central truth, no life-giving lesson.

Maleficent 2014 attempts to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. The goal of this article is to bring it captive to the obedience of Christ.

Christ on throne

Maleficent looking up





Whether you have seen the movie or not, I would be interested in your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment.


© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved


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Aug 312011

Here’s a blast from the past:

What color was the Lone Ranger’s mask?

Think you know? Read on for the answer. You might be surprised – I was!

The Lone Ranger began on radio in 1933, then aired on tv from 1949 to 1957, spawning several icons of Americana like silver bullets, “Hi-yo Silver! Away!” and the phrase of admiration and wonder, “Who was that masked man anyway?”

As the story goes, six Texas Rangers were ambushed. All died but one, who made a black mask from the vest of his slain brother, and became – the Lone Ranger. From then on he used only bullets made of silver to remind himself that life, like silver, is precious, not to be wasted or thrown away. But was his mask really black?

During a stay at the storied Beverly Hilton this past weekend, I discovered a Hollywood memorabilia display with cavalry uniforms from “How the West was Won,” a camel sculpture owned by Judy Garland from “A Star is Born,” and a mask worn by John Hart when he briefly replaced Clayton Moore for the Lone Ranger’s third season.

My jaw dropped when I saw that the Lone Ranger’s mask was purple! It only looked black because seasons 1-4 were filmed in black and white. In the final season, filmed in color, the mysterious lawman wore an actual black mask.

Of course, the real color of the Lone Ranger’s mask doesn’t matter, except as vintage tv trivia. The story told us it was black, it looked black, and therefore, it was black!

On reflection though, as a Thinking Christian Woman, I praise God that we are not limited by what we are told or can perceive with our senses.

  • We are not held hostage by the limited perspective of our own understanding (Proverb 3:5-6).
  • Because of our relationship with God through His Son Jesus, we can know the truth and the truth sets us free (John 8:32)!
  • And if God’s Son has set us free, we are free indeed (John 8:36)!
  • We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (hey, I can see my house from here!) (Ephesians 2:16) and have access to a perspective that is as high above our human perspective as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isaiah 55:9).

In your life today, something may look one way, because of limited human perspective, but in reality, it might be totally different!  When it comes to knowing the truth about life, none of us has to be a lone ranger – Hallelujah! For the Thinking Christian Woman, the fun is in staying open to God’s sometimes surprising perspective on things we may think we know for sure.

btw – For those of you who are really into the Lone Ranger, here’s the creed he and Tonto aspired to live by:

I believe…

  • that to have a friend, a man must be one.
  • that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  • that God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  • in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
  • that a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  • that ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
  • that men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  • that sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  • that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
  • in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Jul 292011

A friend was filling my half-barrel pond with rainwater collected from the “orchard” area of the yard and just happened to smell gas at the meter as he passed with a full bucket (or do you call it a pail?).

I promptly closed the gas line and called the utility. Mr. Gas Company did a visual check and then went to his truck to retrieve, what he called, his “educated Eggdicator” – the sniffer machine that detects the distinctive rotten egg odor (H2S – hydrogen sulfide) added to natural gas to make it detectable.

His answer to my inquiry about the unusual name was that Mr. Wonka used an Eggdicator to test the geese-laid chocolate eggs in the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Grandpa Joe called it an educated Eggdicator. You might remember Veruca Salt, in her lust for the Golden Egg, standing triumphantly on the device and being judged – Bad Egg.

Well the E.E. precisely pinpointed the porous piping and the technician locked the leaking line. After learning that it takes a city permit to replace a pipe fitting (hmm, that sounds like a money-maker), I obtained the permit and repairs are underway. Meanwhile I’ve been cooking on a butane camp stove outdoors, drying laundry in the California sun, and showering at the Total Woman Gym – a refreshingly novel break in routine.

Do you have an educated Eggdicator? Can you smell when something’s not right in your life? Paul explains how to become spiritually mature in discerning good and evil.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,
that is, those who by reason of use 
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
(Heb 5:12-14)

We might have lots of information about righteousness (being in right relationship to God, others, and all created things), but we only come of age spiritually by continually putting that information into practice in real life – habitual obedience to God’s Word. That’s how the Thinking Christian Woman can exercise her spiritual senses and develop an educated Eggdicator to sniff out the good and evil in life.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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