first, this fantastic little cartoon from naked pastor’s blog, which i thought was a nice pre-amble to what i’m going to talk about in this post:
i took max to see the movie horton hears a who a couple weeks ago. great movie, by the way. wonderful animation, fun characterization, great voices, and loads of fun. i was really impressed how they both wove the book into the movie, and expanded it into a full-length feature.
but what struck me over and over, as i was watching it, was how the antagonist in the film, mrs. kangaroo (voiced by carol burnett), embodies and personifies (or “kangarooizes”) the fear tactics of many in the church, who, by their alarmist sound-bites and expertise at stirring fear with half-truths, guilt by association, and rhetorical trickery, continue to hold large sway over the american church (whew, that was a long sentence). her character made the whole movie feel like a metaphor and social commentary, rather than just a cute children’s story. horton is a dreamer, a listener, a believer in things he cannot see. mrs. kangaroo believes these things (imagination, dreaming, believing in things that can’t be seen, considering things that go against or cut across logic) are suspect at best, and inherently evil at worst.
i wished i’d had a notepad during the movie to write down, verbatim, some of mrs. kangaroo’s arguments. the line she repeats a couple times, which i can’t find online (someone correct me if i have this wrong, which i’m sure i do) is scary, sharp, and priceless:
if it can’t be seen, touched or heard, it must not be real
there’s a great irony in this kind of fear-mongering in the church, of course. the fear-culture creators certainly believe in many things unseen. i do not question their belief in an unseen god, for example. but they are unflinchingly resistant (nervous?) to consider any idea that has not been “seen” by the last 50 – 200 years of their tribe of christianity and modernism. new (and “other”) approaches, thoughts, ideas, theologies, perspectives and points of view are seen as inherently suspect or downright evil. then kicking up a dust storm of fear about how this idea will erode or destroy truth, destroy the church, or destroy our country (“the last christian generation!”), becomes the means of boundary marking, rallying the troups (who are treated as stupid idiots who clearly can’t think for themselves), and — of course — raising funds.
ok, i’m ranting.
horton hears a who really was a cute and fun movie!