Happy Easter from the Haunted Mansion

 Taking Disney Captive to Christ  Comments Off on Happy Easter from the Haunted Mansion
Apr 142017
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 7

At first glance, it may seem that Disneyland offers only egg hunts and bunnies in recognition of the Easter season, but a closer examination reveals a celebration of the real meaning of Easter, of the highest order, in the most unlikely location…the Haunted Mansion queue.

After entering the gates, and zig-zagging the immaculate front yard, guests enter an area to the left of the Mansion that features a crypt with several pun-filled burial markers like “Trudy Departed” and “U.R. Gone.”

Among those markers are startlingly-clear declarations of the heart of Easter. Someone on the Mansion design team must have had a lot of fun coming up with these God-honoring name puns.

On the third day after Jesus died, His followers discovered that His body was gone. His tomb was empty. “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:6-7


Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you’…” John 14:27-28.

 

Empty Tomb and I’ll Be Back…the essence of Easter in a nutshell!

Waytago Disneyland!

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Mar 192015
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 6

Swarovski Cinderella slippersIn 1697, Charles Perrault wrote a French once-upon-a-time called Cendrillon, based on a well-known oral tradition in which a young girl, who is as good and kind as she is lovely, endures severe hardship and heartache before her long dark storm of injustice clears and her rainbow comes shining through.

Cendrillon’s inner strength of character will not be overcome by the evil around her. Even when she finally has the power of revenge over those who have cruelly mistreated her, she chooses rather to forgive them.

Nearly 300 years later, in 1950, Walt Disney released an animated version that many view as the iconic retelling of that beloved tale.

Now, 65 years later, Disney Studios offers us a new Cinderella. My brother Donn (who attended USC film school with George Lucas, and appeared in one of Lucas’ student films) describes it as, “A stunningly beautiful live-action update that remains surprisingly faithful to the original, with just enough changed to keep it interesting!”

Uncle Walt (Disney) would be pleased!

Cinderella’s strength and resolve come from her commitment to honor her parents (Exodus 20:12), particularly her mother, who said, “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer: Have courage, and be kind.”

MovieGuide reports that one of Cinderella’s producers, Allison Shearmur, who also worked on The Hunger Games, said Disney was keen to present a “strong and contemporary” heroine for girls around the world. “Ken [director Kenneth Branagh, who also directed Thor in 2011] had a very clear point of view of what was important to him,” Shearmur added. “I remember the first time we met with him, he said,

“Let’s make a story about kindness as a super power.’”

The Thinking Christian Woman knows that kindness IS a superpower. Kindness is not only one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) but the law of kindness is to rule the tongue of every virtuous woman (Proverb 31:26). And for the princes, “What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.” (Proverb 19:22)

Cinderella 2015 is as right as Maleficent 2014 was wrong. Cinderella is a principled heroine that girls, and women of all ages, can look up to and emulate in many ways. MovieGuide critic Diana Tyler, in her, “Cinderella has a message for girls that might shock you,” likens Cinderella to Old Testament heroine’s Ruth and Esther.

Cinderella has been in theatres less than a week, so no plot spoilers, but, if you enjoyed the 1950 animated version, please stay through all of the credits. You will not be disappointed!

transformation

© 2015 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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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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Apr 012012
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 4

A famous Walt Disney quote is, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” After visiting Walt’s birthplace yesterday, I’m contemplating a new twist on that, reaching back even further – it all started with a house.

It is commonly thought that Walt Disney’s ancestors were French peasants from the cheese-making town of Isigny (ee-zee-nee).  In French, “from” is designated as “d”, thus the family was known as d’Isigny (dee-zee-nee). Later family members anglicized the name to Disney. Some of the family emigrated to around Lake Huron in Canada, where Walt’s father, Elias Disney, was born. Elias later moved to Kansas, where he became an American citizen.

In 1889, Elias moved his wife Flora and son Herbert to Chicago, where Elias enrolled in night school carpentry and discovered he had a knack for making furniture.

Elias soon earned enough making furniture to buy a 25 x 125′ plot on Tripp Avenue, in the Northwest suburb known as Hermosa. Flora drew the plans and Elias built the house. He did it so well, that he bought land next door and built and sold two more houses for a nice profit. Son Ray was born in 1890, and Roy in 1893 – the year of the Chicago World’s Fair (see previous post about the introduction of the Ferris Wheel at that fair). Elias made quite a bit of money through fair-related jobs.

The family became regular worshipers at St. Paul’s Congregational Church, and friends with the pastor, Reverend Walter Parr. Elias helped build a new church for the congregation, which was finished in 1900. Both Mrs. Disney and Mrs. Parr were with child in the spring of 1901. It has been said that there was such closeness and respect between the two families, that when Mrs. Disney’s boy was born on December 5, they named him Walter Elias (when Mrs. Parr’s boy was born, they also named him Walter Elias).

Walt Disney was born in the upstairs bedroom with the two windows.

Just before Christmas, Reverend Parr christened both boys, saying of Walt, “I baptize this child Walter Elias Disney in the name of the Lord God Almighty.”

Ruth Disney was born in 1903. As the Disney family grew, so did Chicago. The population boom brought saloons and increasing crime to Hermosa, so in 1906, when two local boys killed a policeman in a robbery, concerned father Elias sold the house and moved his young family to a farm in wholesome, rural Marceline, Missouri, where Walt spent the remainder of his childhood.

For even more information and pictures, check out Werner Weise’s Yesterland article entitled “Walt Disney In Chicago.”

Since you never know what great things God might want to start in your house, no matter how humble it may appear, the thinking Christian woman can resolve daily – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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The Most Worshipful Place on Earth?

 Taking Disney Captive to Christ  Comments Off on The Most Worshipful Place on Earth?
Dec 052011
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 3

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE WALT!

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, making today Uncle Walt’s 110th birthday!

Walt did a lot of great things during his life, and over the weekend I discovered another amazing legacy of the life of Walt Disney in the form of the Disneyland Candlelight Procession and Ceremony. Two nights each year in December, the park that Walt built transforms into a cathedral of praise to Jesus the Christ, born to be our Savior!

Here’s a quote from the “Disneyland Park Stage Shows & Live Entertainment” schedule handed out at the gate for the first week in December 2011: “As part of our long standing tradition at the Disneyland Resort, the ‘Candlelight Procession and Ceremony’ will be performed under the stars in Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. Join us for our holiday spectacular featuring a mass choir that will retell the story of “The First Christmas’ through song and scripture.”

When I first saw the schedule, I wiped my eyes, blinked, then read and re-read that last word…scripture! Scripture was going to be read aloud as part of the Disneyland schedule of events…I was beside myself!

At the appointment time, Sleeping Beauty’s castle flared with holiday splendor, then went dark, along with most of the other park lights, as hundreds upon hundreds of choir-robed singers, each carrying a candle, sang loud and strong, from Small World to Town Square, the traditional worship songs of the season – The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and on and on in a stream of humanity and praise!

The pure power of the sights and sounds brought me to tears. I’d never seen Sleeping Beauty’s castle go dark, other than for fireworks. It reminded me a little of when Queen Elizabeth bowed as Princess Diana’s casket passed Buckingham Palace. I thought Disney, like the Queen, bows to no one, but here I saw humble acknowledgment of the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the voices of hundreds proclaiming His praise…in Disneyland! It was heavenly!

The seemingly endless sea of singers flowed down Main Street like an indomitable torrent – the Orange County Register reported the choir at 600 members strong this year – finally assembling into a spectacular living Christmas tree at the Main Street train depot for the telling of the biblical Christmas story in song with the help of a celebrity narrator.

This year’s celebrity scripture reader was Gary Sinise (CSI:NY, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13). Here is a video of the event, and one guest’s account of the evening, with more pictures.

According to LaughingPlace.com: “The first Candlelight Procession was held in 1955. It was actually a Choir Festival with individual choirs performing under a gazebo near the Jungle Cruise. For the next few years the ceremony consisted of participating choirs who performed around the hub facing the choir director. In 1960, Candlelight grew to 800 singers who followed the Christmas parades. Finally, in 1961 a narrator was added to the Ceremony. Past Disneyland narrators include Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, James Earl Jones, Mary Hart and, last year, Edward James Olmos.”

For the Thinking Christian Woman, on her quest to discover authentic links between Disney and the life of faith, this was a night of high praise with no need to translate or interpret – God’s message, sounded clear and true, transformed Disneyland, for me for that night, into the Most Worshipful Place on Earth.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Nov 052011
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 2

Previously, the Thinking Christian Woman focused on why there is no church on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. In this post, we reveal where you can find an actual church building in Disneyland.

But first, a backstage look at the-church-that-might-have-been. According to the snopes.com forum, “Here is some Haunted Mansion trivia that came in my Disney catalog:  an early Disneyland park concept featured a church on Main Street USA surrounded by a graveyard leading up to a haunted house.” Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion eventually found a home in New Orlean’s Square, without the church.

And now, here’s the story of the-church-that-actually-is

According to the Disney resort webpage, Walt was so captivated by the colorful river barges of Europe, that he designed an attraction called Canal Boats of the World. On Opening Day, so much of the landscaping was not yet in place, it was nicknamed, “The Mud Bank Ride.”

Two months later, Canal Boats closed while Storybook Land was constructed and the muddy banks were landscaped with miniature plants, including a bonsai tree planted by Walt Disney himself that remains to this day. The revisioned attraction re-opened on June 16, 1956.

Back in July of 1951 Walt Disney Productions had released its 13th animated feature, Alice in Wonderland – the story of a little girl who gets lost in a nonsensical world. Though a box office flop, Alice influenced Fantasyland more than any other, maybe because Uncle Walt had a soft spot for her from as far back as the 1920’s when he produced a series of shorts featuring a live-action Alice interacting with cartoons. The “Alice Comedies” became a cornerstone of Walt’s early career success. It’s no wonder then that Alice has her own dark ride, teacups ride, and her village appears in Storybook Land.

As you float under the first bridge, you immediately see Alice’s cottage on the left along the river, with a church up the hill. Neither of these structures is featured in the movie, however, Alice’s voice can be clearly heard coming from the church, singing “All in the Golden Afternoon”, a selection from the movie.

Though not featured, I believe the church might appear in the movie. Check out this clip of Walt introducing the Alice in Wonderland feature on Christmas Eve 1954, and notice the river, with a clock tower that might be a church in the background – clear influences on Alice’s Village in Storybook Land.

If you have the time and would like to see where Alice’s church appears in the context of the entire ride, start looking around time marker 1:50, on the left, after the homes of the 3 Little Pigs in this home movie.

Attendance tip: The Storybook Land Canal Boats entrance is located along the parade route, so the attraction closes about an hour before any parade. On busy days, the best time to catch this ride is right after the parade passes.

So far, this is the only church we’ve found in Disneyland. If you find one, please let us know!

The churchyard gets special treatment around Christmas with a beautifully lit tree.

Alice dreamed she fell down a dark rabbit hole and found herself lost in a world of nonsense. The Thinking Christian Woman knows that, up above, in the light of the Son – in Jesus the Christ (symbolized by the village church) – God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and He is eager to reveal His secrets to those who walk uprightly! (Proverb 3:32)

Note: This post title is an homage to the Little Brown Church in the Wildwood in Nashua, Iowa, made famous by the old country song by the same name (link takes you to a vintage Carter Family recording).  I have been to this sweet country church with my parents, Dad being a native Iowan, and I think it even looks a tiny little bit like Alice’s church!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Aug 222011
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 1

Note: We introduced the Taking Disney Captive to Christ series back in June to help transform and elevate Disney “magic” through the higher thoughts and values of God’s wisdom.

According to the official website, Main Street, U.S.A. is the gateway to Disneyland Park. Stroll down the street where turn-of-the-century architecture and transportation recreate the quintessential small town of Middle America in the early 1900’s. Welcome to Main Street, U.S.A. – home, sweet home in the park!”

If quintessential means “representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class” (Merriam-Webster), and if the average Midwestern downtown has at least one church, and if Main Street, U.S.A. was inspired by Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri where there were two churches on Main Street when Walt lived there, then the Thinking Christian Woman just has to ask,

“Where’s the church on Main Street, U.S.A.?”
Walt Disney grew up in church. His father, Elias Disney – a deacon in the St. Paul Congregational Church in Chicago – named his fourth, and youngest, son after the family minister, Walter Parr. 

There is evidence to conclude that Walt never intended to exclude God from Disneyland. In a live broadcast seen around the world on opening day in 1955, Walt asked his nephew, Reverend Glenn D. Puder, to lead in a prayer of dedication.

“I have known Walt Disney for many years, and have long been aware of the spiritual motivation in the heart of this man who has dreamed Disneyland into being….beyond the creeds that would divide us, let us unite in a silent prayer, that this, and every worthy endeavor, may prosper at God’s hand. Let us bow in prayer.”

Then-governor of California, Goodwin J. Knight, followed and said, in part, “Mr. and Mrs. Disney, reverend clergy, and my fellow Americans. Today is a wonderful day and all America is proud as we open Disneyland….all built by American labor and American capital under the belief that this is a God-fearing and a God-loving country.”

It is possible that Walt wanted to be as inclusive as possible by generally avoiding the emblems and trappings of organized religion in the park. And, to be fair, there’s no school, library or post office on Main Street U.S.A. either, but that doesn’t mean Walt was against learning, reading and letter writing!

Walt’s daughter, Sharon Disney Lund, once said, “He was a very religious man, but he didn’t believe you had to go to church to be religious….He respected every religion.” Diane Disney Miller added, “He definitely believed in God – very definitely. But I think he’d had it [with organized religion] as a child. He never went to church.”

For such a fertile creative spirit as Disney, the formal structure of church around the turn of the century may have seemed stifling. The Thinking Christian Woman will look more in depth at the faith of Walt Disney in a future post. For more insights into why some believers have difficulty with organized religion, read Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow.
There may be no church building on Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A., but the Thinking Christian Woman knows that the church of the living God is not a building made with human hands – WE are His church. Every time a believer walks down Main Street, U.S.A., or anywhere else, God’s church is present there!

And even though there is no church building on Main Street U.S.A, there IS an actual church in Disneyland, and we will show you where! Stay tuned to The Thinking Christian Woman for a future installment of Taking Disney Captive to Christ!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Jun 012011
 

The Thinking Christian Woman is excited to announce two new series that will appear in the next few months and continue intermittently.

Taking Disney Captive to Christ

 

2 Corinthians10:5 encourages us to be intellectual spiritual warriors “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (NKJV)

In this series, we will look into all things Disney – from Tinker Bell to Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Philip, from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to Toy Story Midway Mania, and beyond! – to find hidden messages of faith and to transform and elevate Disney “magic” through the higher thoughts and values of God’s wisdom.

As an Annual Passholder in Southern California, I enjoy visiting the parks and looking for connections (or not) between Disney and the Judeo-Christian worldview. It will be fun to compare notes with all of you, including those of you who more regularly visit the Florida Disney parks.

A Lawyerly Look at the Good Book

Isaiah 33:22 says “The Lord is our Lawgiver…” and James 4:12 says “There is one Lawgiver…” (NKJV)

This series will focus on demystifying our rights and responsibilities under the law by discovering how common legal principles play out on the pages of the Lawgiver’s book!

This series will draw on experiences as an attorney in private, solo practice for 19 years as of this month, and as a volunteer judge (judge pro tem) in Small Claims Court for the past 13 years (oh the stories I could tell!).  

Check back frequently, or choose to follow this blog by email, if these topics interest you! 

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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