Since beginning this blog I have been asked several times what my favorite Disney movie is. That is a very difficult question. It is easy for me to list Disney movies into three basic categories: Movies I Like, Movies I Don’t Like, and Movies I Haven’t Seen. Suffice it to say that if I’ve seen a Disney movie I have an opinion on it. Some are easy: “Tangled” = LOVE!, “Song of the South” = Awkward & Uncomfortable. However there is a whole range of in between. And picking a favorite? It might be impossible.
Part of the difficulty is that what I like depends on my mood. If I want to sing along, I’m not going to pop in “Toy Story”. I’m going to watch Frozen, sing along, and embarrass the Princess. If I’m in a more thoughtful mood, I might find “Brother Bear”. If I need a good cry, it’s all about “Bambi”. My ‘favorite’ can simply be the movie I most need at the time.
Another issue that factors into the favorite discussion is the messages, often subtle, that the movies give. It is hard to have a favorite movie that does not agree with my world view. It is always important to remember that the movies are a product of their time. The older ones reflect values that I don’t hold myself. Some of them are really dark in places and I’m not talking about animation style. That doesn’t mean they aren’t themselves of value. It means they must be evaluated in the context in which they were created. I cannot expect a movie created 20, 30, or 80 years ago to reflect my current context. In spite of that, I can still enjoy those older movies for the strong, solid messages that transcend the times in which they were made.
Another question I get asked a lot is what my favorite scripture is. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, I answer that question in much the same way. The tools I use to evaluate Disney movies are the same ones I learned evaluating Scripture.
My favorite scripture also changes depending on the mood I’m in. I find words that provide me with comfort, hope, challenge, or inspiration based on what I need at the time. The Bible is packed with stories that cover the range of human experience. There is joy and sorrow; hope and fear. Limiting myself to just one little bit seems like only ever going on vacation to one place. No matter how wonderful it might be, diversity is life giving.
Scripture also must be evaluated in light of the time in which it was written. There are many values that biblical writers had that I do not share. That is simply a fact. The world has changed. It is larger and more diverse for the average person than it was thousands of years ago. Most of us are not farmers. There are people who will go through their entire lives never having to do manual labor. We no longer buy and sell people. Our ideas of equality and worth have changed. This does not mean that Scripture does not have value. God’s messages of truth, grace, and love transcend any culture or time. No matter the social order the biblical writers lived in, they wrote of something bigger than themselves or their own experience. Something that will not change as the years go by.
All this seems to be a long way of saying, I don’t pick favorites. Whether scripture passages or movies, I don’t limit myself. The things that are good and true and right can be found anywhere. I want to experience it all, even the parts that make me uncomfortable. You never know when something you’ve dismissed as irrelevant or out of touch will surprise you with a surprising insight or gift that you never would have found if you played favorites.