Why Disney is Better than the Bible

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. Nearly 20.5 million people visited the attraction in 2017. And that’s not including all the off park resorts, hotels and other theme parks. Mickey Mouse is certainly popular. Not to mention all the memorabilia! Magic Kingdom sells over 300 000 pounds of popcorn and employs nearly 70 000 cast members. Approximately 285 thousand pounds of guest laundry is cleaned by Walt Disney world employees every single day. During the Christmas season, 8.5 million lights and 300 000 yards of ribbon decorate the park. And you think you had a hard time keeping up with the housework?!

However, I am curious to do some research on the underlying (and overwhelming) reasons why Disney products are so popular. What have they got that makes them… well… the most magical place on earth?

Legend has it that Disney created the theme park for his little girls. A place to feel like a princess. Filled with adventure, mystery and treasures. If you have ever been, you know it is a reality. We visited way back when our beloveds were a little younger … a trip the kids still talk about. From the check in desk, to the ice cream vendor, every “cast member” was trained to talk directly to our little “prince and princesses”, and to make everyone’s stay the most special visit ever. We even talked to the cashiers in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot… and they enlightened us that most of the employees were chosen from their home countries and had to undergo two years of training before joining the Epcot world teams.

And it’s not all about the kids. In 2013, about 1 500 weddings were held at Disney. That number has steadily grown, and last year, more than 4 000 ceremonies have been performed each day! I have heard of lots of newlyweds who have chosen the theme parks as a honeymoon destination. You can even choose to live there (if you happen to have a couple of million to put out on a house and are willing to abide by the rules). More and more travel companies are promoting adult only Disney visits. And we are eating it up!

So — I muse — WHY? Just think with me a minute. What would happen if our churches were like Disney? What if they were the most magical places on earth, and every child and adult had your church building on their bucket list for places to visit? What would that mean? The coolest rides? The best shows? The best marketing budget for toys and movie clips? Yeah, Disney has all of those things, and yes, many believers are discovering that Walt’s traditional themes are becoming subtly more “worldly”. I’m not saying we have to compromise our fundamentals to woo seekers with magic and pixie dust. The Bible is God’s living word and is perfect in all it’s details. But it doesn’t change the fact that people are seeking places to belong.

Places where they will be accepted. Maybe a place to feel safe. A place to feel special and loved — even if you have a funny voice, or a tiny fin, or ugly, mean stepsisters. To know that it really is “a small world after all”, and that all it takes is faith and trust. If we really and truly believe that we have the. best. answer. ever. to the problems we all face in this world, why are we not sharing it?! Why are my beloveds seeking adventure and drama in the latest superhero movie? Why do I wish for a fairy tale marriage? {no worries, honey, it’s pretty close…} Why is Disney our celebratory destination and not the streets of gold in Heaven? Is God not bigger and more powerful than Mickey Mouse?

As usual, I don’t have all the answers. I love Disney. The family is trying to convince me to see the new, live action Dumbo movie. I’m gonna cry. Poor Dumbo is snatched away from his momma all too soon. But I’ve got to wonder, am I moved the same way when I read of the atrocities that human babies face in our own world? Does it grieve me the way that it grieves our Heavenly Father? The Bible is filled with adventure, romance, humor, and boundless love. Love that can cross barriers, and the test of time. Are we training our “cast members” to treat every person who walks through our doors, that, they too, can experience the most magical place on earth through the person of Jesus… and that an even greater adventure awaits them after? To infinity and beyond?!

Photo credit: Roberto Gemini Pixabay

I want my daughters to feel like princesses. I want my boys to seek adventure and fight for justice. I want to whistle while I work as my house gets cleaned by a variety of adorable woodland creatures. But I know that, sometimes, fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending. So I entrust my friends and family to be sons and daughters of the king of kings. To put on the whole armour of God, and enlist in the adventure of a lifetime. Because with God’s help, Walt Disney himself, might agree… “if you can dream it, you can do it.”

Spiritual Awakenings at the Grand Canyon

This week has been frigid — I’m talking record breaking low temperatures and epic snowfalls that made even us, winter-hardened Canadians, quiver. Twitter was all a buzz with hashtags like #snowmageddon2019. It’s supposed to warm up again by the weekend, but the past week had me dreaming of warmer places, and so I thought I would muse a bit about our trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon from last year! The week deserves some desert reminiscing!

Looking for a spiritual revelation at the Grand Canyon?

We don’t travel much, so when we do, we drive, we trek, we search, and we plan to fit as much in as our meager budgets will allow! Our trip to the Grand Canyon was no exception. We booked tours and saw as many parts of the world wonder (and surrounding places) as we could. I stopped at the burrow ride to the bottom, though… those winding paths on the canyon edge was just a bit too narrow for my liking! Let alone on the back of a teetering donkey! Sedona was one of our favourite places. The Red Rocks and the views were spectacular!! You simply cannot describe the colours.

If you do any research on Sedona, or Arizona in general, you will inevitably discover that it is a hub for “spiritual awakenings”. There is just something about our spirits that are drawn to a timeless place, full of organic mixes of earth and nature, that provokes within us a yearning to find some deeper meaning to our lives — you can call it a spiritual awakening if you want, but — it’s totally a God thing. He put it deep within us when He breathed life into our souls. Many people search for great revelations. Enlightenment. We inherently know there is something bigger than us. Something more powerful than our frail existence. We often feel the need to be challenged, to be driven, to somehow be more Holy. That’s why so many religious pursuits are just that: pursuits. It’s nice to know that we are saved by a free gift of grace and not our own pursuits and merit. Nonetheless, our faith journeys should drive us towards sanctification. I wrote this in my journal on the plane ride to Vegas:

“… Will be super cool to see the Grand Canyon — I ‘m actually hoping to have a bit of spiritual journey there — to see God’s great handiwork and know that this Great Big God loves me — and cares about my parenting and my kids. To be able to trust Him whole-heartedly and see where He takes my dreams: WHAT ARE MY DREAMS?!

Maybe that will be the awakening. That’d be cool. To have a great revelation of some “dream” I should take on. Hmmmn… will have to see what that takes me to….”

March 2017

I’m sorry to report that there was no great revelation the day our eyes beheld the glory of the Cavern. There was no voice from Heaven, no burning bush experience, no tongues of fire. Not for lack of trying. Our tour guide made sure we didn’t peek as we drove along. We were expected to see the grandeur of the Grand Canyon in all it’s finest in one great unearthing. To have that awe inspiring first view. To be honest, it is just too huge to fathom. It almost seems fake. Our minds cannot grasp how wide and vast the expanse is. You can see for miles and miles. Perhaps that is the point. When you first lay eyes on the vastness of a cavern carved out of rock and behold the raging Colorado River from the upper rim… you cannot help but be reminded of how fragile we tiny humans are. How insignificant we are compared to our great big God who flung stars into space! Yet, He has us right where He wants us to be. He is in control — always. This, my friend, is the daily encouragement we need. Not always a grand spiritual awakening. Not always a full revelation of our dreams to pursue, not always visions, dreams or flashes of light. Sometimes it is a still, small whisper that simply says: keep going. I’ve got you right where you need to be today, and tomorrow will be just one more step on the journey. You’ve got this — because God’s got you.

You’ve got this — because God’s got you!

Legacies

a guest post from Abbie B.

Super excited to be sharing from a friend today!  Abbie is much (much!) younger than I, and yet, I am slightly jealous of her adventures.  I asked her to share a bit of her story after seeing a photo from her Jamaican trip.  Ya’ll know I love a good photo — and this one struck something within me — there is compassion and hope embodied in it, and yet sorrow and despair.  So I knew there must be a story behind it.  I have asked Abbie to share the story.  Enjoy!

Growing up knowing that both my Nana and my Grandma were overseas missionary nurses had always been an inspiration, and created a question of whether or not that might be God’s calling on my own life. When I began my nursing journey, I had many people ask me if I was going to follow in my Grandma and Nana’s footsteps. I always replied:  “If that’s what God wants.” I never wanted to say “I don’t know”.

So, when the opportunity of doing an International placement in Jamaica came up, I jumped at the opportunity.  Being a hands on person, I knew that I needed to experience being an international nurse to know if that was where God was leading me.

I didn’t know what I was going to be walking into when I landed in Jamaica, I didn’t know how I would feel! There was a part of me that was scared to walk into a new culture that I’d never experienced, the other part of me was excited for the challenge that was waiting.  My time was split between an orphanage and a small primary school.  Both places were completely different.  Walking into the orphanage, my heart felt heavy,  it was so hard knowing that some of these children didn’t have a permanent place to call home and to feel safe. We spent a majority of our time with the babies. Some who were premature, some toddlers, some who were not able to walk because of varying mobility impairments.  It was so hard to see the needs of the children, whether it was just to hold premature babies or to take a toddler out of their crib and help them walk.  It was even harder when a new baby would come in and try to settle.  My heart broke at their cries for comfort and security.  Working at the orphanage really affirmed in me that my heart is for people who are displaced and broken. Really breaking my heart for what breaks God’s. Our days there were spent doing Head to Toe Assessments (checking all the major body’s systems to make sure that there isn’t anything abnormal), bathing, changing clothes and diapers, playing games, reading, feeding, giving medications when needed to the babies and toddlers, as well as teaching the care givers at the orphanage about the misconceptions of asthma or hygiene.  Which at times was difficult for me because I never wanted to feel like a “know it all”,  or that I was stepping on toes.  I really learned how to be collaborative with those around me.

Working at the primary school was a good break from the emotional roller coaster (not that I didn’t love the orphanage) because I got to use a different side of my brain and skills while at the school.  It was more of “health teaching” with the children there. We brought down nurse and doctor costumes and I got to explain what the different instruments were and played games with them.  It wasn’t a large school by any means, but it felt like a family there — which was such a different feel than the orphanage.  I took the teachers’ blood pressures daily,  to see patterns of increase and decrease, answered their questions about what diabetes, heart failure, asthma etc. all are, and how some can be avoided, and that some is just up to genetics. So many amazing conversations about what health is and what it means to people either physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  It amazes me how we can be from different parts of the world and find a common ground — and from there — relationships are built.

I loved my international placement,  and in a lot of ways I’m still decompressing and sorting through the lessons I learned.  The one thing that I will always hold with me is when I was leaving, the woman that we were staying with, said to me “You have a beautiful heart, don’t ever lose it.” God’s given me passions, He’s created a heart in me for people to feel safe and secure, to have a place where they feel like they belong.  By the end of my placement, I had a whole new appreciation for my grandma and Nana. Their faith, their consistency, and their commitment to serve God in the unknown. The whole time I was there I was asking God:  “Is this what you want me to do? Is this where you are leading me?” By the end I realized that being a long term missionary isn’t something that God is calling me to.   I think short term trips are still an open door that God isn’t going to be closing anytime soon.  I know that community is where God is calling me and I’ve really seen that in Toronto.  There are so many who are broken and displaced for varying reasons.  My heart breaks for them, and all I want to do is step beside them and walk with them through the hard times.  I’m excited to see where God leads me, as scary as that is,  I trust that He knows best and He will be faithful in giving me the strength to follow through.

Indeed He will, Abbie.  I wish you much joy in the adventure!