Stone steps, candles, stained glass windows, and gargoyles. These are some of the more concrete images that come to mind when I think of the Notre Dame Cathedral. You see, two summers ago I traveled through France on a People to People trip. This experience was both rewarding and very challenging at the same time. You see, one of my good friends on the trip had completely different religious beliefs than I had, and this catalyzed much tension between us. As a Christian, I felt a lot of pressure to say the right thing all the time. That is, until the day we toured through the cathedral of Notre Dame. It was here I realized an essential truth about Christian culture: Christianity is like a Disney movie.
Walking through the cathedral I was amazed by the grandness of it all and felt very small in comparison to both the history that surrounded me, and the other tourists who had all come from unique backgrounds and religious beliefs. But this day was not special because of my surroundings. It was significant because of what my friend asked me. She started asking me questions about my faith with a non-judgmental attitude I had never seen in her before. She asked me hard questions, like: “why would a loving God let bad things happen,” and “how do you know God is really faithful.” Obviously there wasn’t an easy answer to these questions, but I was still able to share my faith with her without feeling it was my responsibility to actually “convert her.” I just needed to understand that as a Christian, some things are out of my control and that is ok. So why is Christian culture like a Disney movie? There are several central reasons why.
First, Christian culture is like a Disney movie in the way that the central hero of the story feels the need to fight evil, and save the world, all on their own. Often times Christians are made out to be hypocritical in the way that they claim to have all the answers and “force” their beliefs on others. This example parallels any typical Disney movie. The hero thinks they can make it on their own, they fail, and their friends end up bailing them out of trouble, and saving the day. This concept coincides with my story since I felt it was all up to me to validate my faith, rather than give the situation to God. In this way, Christian culture and Disney heroes at times need to just step back, and let God–or the faithful friend–save the day.
Secondly, Christian culture is like a Disney movie in the way that they both have climaxes. Even when all hope seems lost—whether it is frustration with a friend or just battling an evil Disney villain—there’s always a chance things will turn around. So since the trials of life are often challenging, thankfully, Disney movies and Christian culture have one more similarity.
The third connection is that Christian culture and Disney movies all end in a redemptive light. In John 16 it says this: “In this world, you will have tribulations, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Just as Christians have hope all things will be made new at the end of time, so do all Disney movies have promising endings as well.
The hopeful ending I found in my story was that: on that July afternoon my agnostic friend actually expressed enthusiasm for Christianity. Rather than “bashing” it, she shared her newfound interest in going to Church. So when life’s problems seem “hopeless” and “frustrating” because they can’t be solved within an hour and a half Disney—movie—time–slot; there still is hope.
So this is why Christian culture is like a classic Disney movie. Both possess a protagonist who feels responsible for “saving the day: from sharing your faith, to just freeing yourself from an infinitely high tower, and ringing 13 ton bells. Both have climatic situations, in which the heroes’ efforts are not enough, and their friends—or God—come to their rescue creating a redemptive ending. This experience with my friend really opened my eyes to realizing that I’m not able to control everything in life, and that’s ok. This is why I believe that Disney movies are like Christian culture. Although the protagonists are not perfect, in the end, they can always be redeemed.