Friday, January 24, 2014

Frozen: Disney in a Post-Christian World

Disney's latest animation Frozen is a great example of how post-Christian America really is.

Parents build fear into the girl. Love drives out fear for a believer. Legalistic parents often drive their children to rebel. Rebellion has dire consequences. Rebellion is sin. The wages of sin is death--to self, soul, casualties and in the end the cosmos.

Hans Christian Andersen

Four Loves

Goodwyn: Without giving too much away, what does the movie say about love?

Henn: Well, it says a lot of things about love. It's hard to boil it down to one particular sentence, because you see different types and different levels of love that are culturally prevalent throughout. You've got the very shallow instant gratification kind of love that Anna feels. You've got the element of sacrifice. You've got the innocent childlike love that Olaf brings to the film. So it really paints a very broad picture of different aspects of love and maybe what's true love versus what's really kind of a pretend or a false love. It appeals on a lot of different levels.

Goodwyn: The evolution of female characters in Disney animated features from Cinderella up until now is clear. What does Frozen say to young girls?

Henn: Part of the big evolution in terms of the role of our leading ladies and our princesses, for lack of a better term, have "undergone" is that early on a lot of times the girls tended to be more reactionary to things that would happen to them. They needed somebody to come alongside and save the day, so to speak. And that may have been true years ago, but nowadays, the stories are a little more complicated. The characters are more proactive. It's not things necessarily happening to them alone, but it's their decisions, their wants and dreams and desires that propel them forward, that propel the story. They make decisions and there are consequences good and bad that move the story along. That's been a big jump in the way we've told our stories and the types of stories that we've told, starting with The Little Mermaid, which was kind of the prototype of that new type of story, or new type or heroine where she's making decisions. The world isn't just happening to her and she's just like, "Oh, help! Somebody help me!" She's saying, "I'm not happy with this and I'm going to do something about it." Then she's going to deal with the consequences good and bad of those decisions. That's probably been the biggest swing that I've seen over the course of our films.

Mulan is another great example of that. Her story is she's making a decision because she loves her family. She loves her father so much, but she makes this decision to essentially defy him to protect him. So, those are very deep dilemmas, and very real for some people. We all, boys and girls, men and women, we all have to face those kind of decisions. So I think that kind of storytelling, it's just enriching the films that we're doing these days.

For young girls today, I hope that they look at them as the same way little girls and little boys looked at the characters from the past, as good, positive role models with decisions. There may be consequences good and bad, but that there's a strength there. There's a desire to follow your dreams and follow your heart. Again, you may have to suffer consequences good and bad depending on what those decisions are, but those are very applicable types of role models for kids today, and particularly young girls.

Goodwyn: What in Frozen do you think will appeal to Christians?

Henn: Oh, well, there are a lot of things. It's not always very obvious in the stories, but I think whether it's obvious or not, I think one of the aspects is the whole notion of the different types of love that are demonstrated, are portrayed in the film. You have a variety of types of love shown from Olaf, very naïve, childlike love and affection, to Anna's very reactionary, very seemingly true love, but it's a bit shallow when she meets Hans.

Christian families can use [Frozen] to talk to their kids ultimately [about] honest, sacrificial love. We all understand that. The love of Christ is sacrificing His life because He loved us so much. God so loved the world through Christ. That's sacrificial love. Those are elements that, while not so blatantly, "here's a Christian message", but they're there. For Christian families in particular, they can just peel back the layers a little bit and then be willing to, as parents, talk to their kids and just have conversations about that.

Those things are always prevalent in our films, more in some and less in others. But certainly love is a big part of that, and trust, and the risks involved with love, and within a family structure, and all those things can be talked about.

Pagan Temples and You

We hear a lot about the Bible and its relevance to people today. This is understandable given the huge contrast inherent in the relation between the first and twenty-first centuries. Historical context is sometimes hard to relate to. However, sometimes we are presented with opportunities to see a Biblical historical context in a present-day context, in order to better understand Biblical concepts. In Arizona we have such and opportunity.

In 1 Corinthians 8 we read about something quite odd that we would never expect to see in  twenty-first century America. All of chapter 8 is written "with regard to food sacrificed to idols" (v. 1). Unless you are an American (this applies to those in almost all Westernized countries) who has traveled to India you have likely never seen a food that has been sacrificed to... anything. In this chapter Paul goes on to give instructions about "eating food sacrificed to idols" (v. 4). Further, if you read the entire chapter you will see that Paul is also making a point about how our interaction with food sacrificed to idols could be a 'stumbling block; to the 'weak' and we might cause them to be 'destroyed'.

So, what is going on here? The best way  to understand these kinds of imperatives that Paul gives to the local churches and to see if and how they apply to us today is to put ourselves into their shoes. Sometimes this is an easy task. However, when we are dealing with commands about antiquated--seemingly barbaric practices-- such as eating the meat of animals that have been ceremonially slaughtered to a God of... let's say harvest, while seated in a temple of that God, we will quickly find ourselves clueless as to how we could possibly relate to these first century believers. If only we had a pagan temple with food sacrificed to idols.

Where have all the pagans gone? Well, you may not have to look too far if you live in Arizona. While we may not have any pagans as the word is used in the Bible; and while we may not have any temples where we might eat food sacrificed to idols, on Sunday, March 2nd you will have the 'opportunity' (you will be able to decide after reading this if it really is an opportunity) to experience something very close. On that day the general public who are not members of the LDS organization will be allowed to enter something that looks very much like a 'pagan temple'. The LDS org. has built something that is visually impressive and in my opinion is an abomination (spiritually and architecturally!): the Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple.

You may be wondering how on earth this is relevant to 1 Corinthians 8. Well, I will now tell you.

The Gilbert Arizona Temple will be dedicated in three sessions at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Sessions will be broadcast to all stakes and districts in Arizona, and Sunday block meetings will be cancelled for those units. Members ages 8 and older who have been issued a recommend may view the broadcast. Specific instructions for attendance will be made available through local priesthood leaders.

Angel Moroni Raising
On May 15, 2012, hundreds of spectators gathered to the Gilbert Arizona Temple to witness the raising of the gold-leafed angel Moroni statue atop the single central spire. Numerous students, who attend a grade school across the street from the temple, gathered in the school parking lot that day with their families. As Moroni began his flight, a large group of middle school students created a spiritually poignant moment as they broke into song, singing the Primary favorite I Love to See the Temple.

The Gila Valley LDS Temple quote:

"There is a difference in just attending the temple and having a rich spiritual experience. The real blessings of the temple come as we enhance our temple experience. To do so, we must feel a spirit of reverence for the temple and a spirit of worship."
—L. Lionel Kendrick
Acts 19:21-41 Zeal for the Temple of Artemis

About sixteen stories tall.
 About 915,000 sq ft. property

About one hundred feet tall.
About 68,000 sq ft. building.

Monday, January 13, 2014

23 ὃς ἐν νόμῳ καυχᾶσαι, διὰ τῆς παραβάσεως τοῦ νόμου τὸν θεὸν ἀτιμάζεις; 24 τὸ γὰρ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ δι’ ὑμᾶς βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, καθὼς γέγραπται.
25 Περιτομὴ μὲν γὰρ ὠφελεῖ ἐὰν νόμον πράσσῃς· ἐὰν δὲ παραβάτης νόμου ᾖς, ἡ περιτομή σου ἀκροβυστία γέγονεν.26 ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ἀκροβυστία τὰ δικαιώματα τοῦ νόμου φυλάσσῃ,οὐχ ἡ ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται; 27 καὶ κρινεῖ ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία τὸν νόμον τελοῦσα σὲ τὸν διὰ γράμματος καὶ περιτομῆς παραβάτην νόμου. 28 οὐ γὰρ ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ Ἰουδαῖός ἐστιν, οὐδὲ ἡ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ ἐν σαρκὶ περιτομή· 29 ἀλλ’ ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος, καὶ περιτομὴ καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι, οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ.

 ηὐχόμην γὰρ ἀνάθεμα εἶναι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα, οἵτινές εἰσιν Ἰσραηλῖται, ὧν ἡ υἱοθεσία καὶ ἡ δόξα καὶ αἱ διαθῆκαι καὶ ἡ νομοθεσία καὶ ἡ λατρεία καὶ αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι, ὧν οἱ πατέρες, καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων, θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας· ἀμήν.
Οὐχ οἷον δὲ ὅτι ἐκπέπτωκεν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ. οὐ γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἐξ Ἰσραήλ, οὗτοι Ἰσραήλ· οὐδ’ ὅτι εἰσὶν σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ, πάντες τέκνα, ἀλλ’· Ἐν Ἰσαὰκ κληθήσεταί σοι σπέρμα. τοῦτ’ ἔστιν, οὐ τὰ τέκνα τῆς σαρκὸς ταῦτα τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα· ἐπαγγελίας γὰρ ὁ λόγος οὗτος· Κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον ἐλεύσομαι καὶ ἔσται τῇ Σάρρᾳ υἱός. 10 οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥεβέκκα ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἔχουσα, Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν· 11 μήπω γὰρ γεννηθέντων μηδὲ πραξάντων τι ἀγαθὸν ἢ φαῦλον, ἵνα ἡ κατ’ ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ μένῃ, 12 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος, ἐρρέθη αὐτῇ ὅτι Ὁ μείζων δουλεύσει τῷ ἐλάσσονι· 13 καθὼς γέγραπται· Τὸν Ἰακὼβ ἠγάπησα, τὸν δὲ Ἠσαῦ ἐμίσησα.