Just saw Disney’s CGI movie Tangled and it was fantastic!  This is an animated film with all the classic elements of a fairy tale but just enough of a modern twist to keep it interesting.

Tangled will appeal to children for the sense of wonder it evokes.  The scenery is fictional, taking viewers to an imaginary land, while similar enough that we can still understand its rules and design.  Among those magical alterations: animals respond to human dialogue, a flower can reverse the curse of aging, and excessively long hair can glow under provocation by a song.  Disney infused enough humor that adults will be drawn in, too and – I can’t believe I am saying this – it carries neither political messages  nor sexual overtones.

Probably the most admirable quality that Tangled presents is a spattering of practical lessons through story and art.  Rapunzel and Flynn Rider find genuine love under unusual circumstances, the sanctity of one’s home is maintained, and the viewer is advised “good things come to those who wait.”  How rarely is instant gratification suppressed in modern society!  Above all the main characters question in what person or object they will place their security and learn the consequences of their greed.  Even actions taken with good intentions cannot in themselves be completely pure.

And so it is in our experience.  In a world where love does not come easy, magical flowers escape our grasp, and hair must be cut, we are reminded: The Lord is our security.  Apart from Him there is no good thing.  He alone is our portion and our cup; He makes our lot secure.  (Psalm 16) 

Go rent Tangled or borrow a copy.  Arrange a family night, a date on the couch, or share some popcorn with friends.  As you recapture that child-like spirit of wonder and get caught up in an animated fairy tale allow your heart to be glad, your tongue to rejoice, and your body to rest secure.


America’s Religion

Baltimore is in a frenzy this weekend.  Like a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the town is covered in a splash of purple.  That’s all because – in case you haven’t heard – the Baltimore Ravens are in their second round of the playoffs this Sunday.  And so fans are showing their support with window decorations, purple lightbulbs, flags, sweatshirts, and more.

My school participated in the excitement this Friday as the normally conservative, uniform-strapped school relaxed its dress code.  Students came in with Ravens jerseys, purple nail polish, hats, beads, purple socks, and gloves with pom poms on the fingertips.  And so I was not surprised when the staff’s weekly “Kudos” email opened with the following pep talk:

I hear scripture applied to football like this all the time.  Even in the regular season with much less important games the Ravens get their admonition from the pulpit or an email, and I, being somewhat indifferent to the sport, give it a chuckle.  However, this time the verse really impacted me.  I reflected upon 1 Corinthians 16:13, but probably not with the animated spirit that the email intended.

Even in a humorous sense, I feel uncomfortable addressing the Ravens with this verse.  It made me wonder, would the team be on their guard against the highly acclaimed New England Patriots while also guarding their hearts (Prov. 4:23) and their minds (Phil. 4:7)?  Would the defensive line work hard to prevent any advancement down the field while also standing firm in the faith off the field? Are the players going to show courage against some heavy hitters in white but act just as courageous for their families like the characters in the recent film by the same name? (FYI: No, I haven’t seen it…)   And will a Ravens football player put on on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) with the same fervor as he might apply his pads?  I pose these as questions because I do not know the character of any individuals, nor is it my place to judge.  I am not optimistic, but there are always individuals who rise above the status quo.  All I know is that nobody has faced criticism from the media for something as simple as “Tebowing” and nobody is working as hard as Drew Brees to publicly share his faith and counsel others in the principles of a Godly marriage.  The verse applied to this team, at least as I read it, is more disheartening than it is inspiring.

After I pondered these thoughts for awhile, my gaze turned to the sea of purple as students shoved their way through a crowded hallway.  The verse made me next question, “Where do I stand in light of these charges?”  Or “How well do we (community, school, nation) measure up to God’s standard of holiness?”  Do we approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) with the same confidence as we have for the home team?  There is so much hype over Sunday’s game; in reality, the anticipation comes with a strange sort of religious zeal.

One’s spirits are lifted when his team wins and the world nearly comes to an end if his team loses.  Team rivalries are more intense in the work place than the disagreements over the work itself.  More flags are flown for one’s team than they are for one’s country.  More airtime is given to football than virtually anything else, whether on the news or in commercials.  The profit made from licensed merchandise stretches into the billions of dollars.  Fans wear jerseys with the name of their favorite player before considering who they represent in their hearts.  I didn’t see it before, but I now understand that football is America’s religion.  

This Sunday I will be cheering for the Ravens to win their game.  That is, I will be cheering for the Ravens to beat the Patriots with one caveat.  My reason for celebration, my hope, and my security is not dependent upon a win or a loss.  Whatever happens, I will be praying that Christ receives the glory – nothing less.  

“He is before all things (even football), and in him all things hold together (not excluding the #1 ranked AFC North Team).  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
(Colossians 1:17-18)