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Epic Theology

Finding God through the lens of an artist

What Disney Teaches Us About Adulting: An Introduction

This blog series is adapted from my panel at the 2018 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. For those who were unable to make it, here’s what you missed!

Our government tells us that we are an adult at the age of 18.

Quick question, who is over the age of 18?

Of those who are of legal age, who actually feels like an adult?

Better yet, who feels like an adult all of the time?

I’d wager that number is not nearly as many as our laws would suggest.

Why is that? That’s a big question that expands FAR beyond the scope of this blog, but I want to explore a bit of the conversation here.

To start out, let’s talk about what it means to be an adult. In my research, I’ve found a few different definitions, because no one seems to really know for sure.  Some definitions I’ve found include:

  • A person who is fully grown or developed.
  • The stage of the life cycle after reproductive capacity has been attained.
  • Having attained full size and strength; grown up; mature.
  • Having the ability to make your own decisions and dealing with the consequences.
  • A person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible.

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To add to our confusion, western society, in the aftermath of World War II, created a social structure called the adolescent. Before this, people generally moved from childhood to adulthood directly around the onset of puberty, often with an accompanying rite of passage. However, we have lengthened this transition and created an “in-between” stage where we are no longer children, but not quite adults yet. Over the decades, this adolescent stage has grown longer and longer. Many no longer really believe 18 year olds to be adults, but how about 22 year olds? Or 25 year olds? Or 30 year olds? When asked when someone becomes an adult, the answer is often, “It depends.”

Now that we’ve separated biological adulthood (being able to reproduce) from social adulthood (being seen as an adult), we must have something else that lets us know we’ve arrived at being an adult. Instead of relying on puberty, we rely on social “markers” that let us know that whoever has accomplished these markers is an adult.

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In the spirit of goodwill, I want to be very clear that I don’t mean to demean or belittle anyone who has not accomplished one of these markers. There are plenty of reasons why someone hasn’t yet, or perhaps will never go through these events, either by choice or by the nature of who you are. Just take what you can from this series and don’t take any of it too seriously. If you seriously disagree with me, please let me know. I would love to have a conversation

Now, I’ve narrowed down potential markers to these seven:

  1. Getting a Job
  2. Moving out/buying a house
  3. Looking After oneself
  4. Saving for the Future
  5. Finding an Identity
  6. Getting Married
  7. Having Kids

That said, for many of us, Disney films may have been the biggest media influence on our childhoods. Whether we wanted to be a princess or a street rat or a singing candelabra, we grew up within the stories that Disney has been telling.

We’re going to look at each of these markers in turn to see where Disney movies have given us wisdom and where they have led us astray. We will also compare the lessons from the films with wisdom from the Scriptures. Hopefully, by the end, we’ll have a little more information on what it means to be an adult and how we can start adulting a little better.

Until next time,

Blessings

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Spring Update

Ah, the joys of spring! As a Canadian, there is something magical about seeing everyone emerge from the hibernation of winter (all 8 months of it) and get outside. There are kids running around the common spaces of our townhouse complex. People are barbecuing and lying in the sun. Runners and joggers and walkers are out and looking alive.

As Martin Luther beautifully said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

It truly is remarkable, and I couldn’t be happier.

It has been a few weeks since my last post, and I wanted to let you all know what’s been going on and where we’ll be headed over the summer.

First, our Comic Expo adventure was a resounding success. We had over 100 people show up to the screening of Star of Wonder, which filled the room and ended up with people being turned away at the door. Since I was expecting about 20 of my friends to show up and few others, this was stunning. God really wanted people to see our little film! We had another full panel later that evening (despite competing with the cast of Back to the Future during the time slot) where I got to speak on Disney films and being an adult (more on this below). I got to make a few great connections and saw God’s heart for artists of all stripes. Quite an exciting weekend!

From there, we’ve moved into a busy season of training (the Sharpen Music and Tech Conference) and now promotional video creation. This time last year, I was just starting my new job and felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to get a project off the ground. I now have over a dozen projects due in the next two months! The culture at our church is moving to really take advantage of the power of film and testimony. Again, God’s grace and guidance is the only thing I can attribute this to, which is encouraging. Knowing we are following where God is leading really bolsters my faith and keeps me moving when life gets busy.

After the promo season dies down, I’m hoping to film another short (much shorter than Star of Wonder…I learned my lesson) over the summer to screen in the fall. We’re still in the planning stages, so I’ll hopefully be able to let you all in on the secrets and the creative process as they start happening.

Finally, we have our chaplaincy up and running full steam ahead. For those who live in Calgary and haven’t heard the invite, we are hosting a gathering of the Kingdom Artist Network tonight at 7:00PM at RockPointe Church’s Bowridge site. There will be snacks, coffee, and some time with special guest Karla Adolphe. I hope some of you can make it out to connect with likeminded artists.

The Network is growing all the time and we are very excited to see what God has in store for this band of faithful artists.

As for EpicTheology, I am taking the lessons I put together for the Expo panel on Disney films and translating them here. We will spend the next 7 or so weeks exploring what it means to be an adult and what Disney and the Bible teach us about the subject. So, please, stay tuned!

Thank you all for making EpicTheology such a wonderful place to write and discuss art and God. You, my readers, are the reason I put down so many of my thoughts onto digital paper. I look forward to connecting with more of you over the summer.

Blessings

Worship Language: Intellectual

Well, everyone, we are at the end of our journey through the Worship Languages. Here are the other eight we’ve been through already:

Naturalist
Sensate
Traditionalist
Ascetic
Activist
Caregiver
Enthusiast
Contemplative

And today, we are going to explore the brainy bunch: The Intellectuals!

Intellectuals worship God with their minds. They love to learn new things about God and are closest to Him during study or while digging into apologetics or theology.

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In church, our Intellectuals are going to be very engaged during a good, thinky sermon. Biblical exegesis, complex theology, or church history may be exactly what they need to connect with God and feel closer to Him. Hymns or worship songs with great theology or scriptural references can also draw the Intellectual in. Hearing a solid philosophical debate can also help the Intellectual to cement their beliefs and feel even closer to God.

Outside of church, a good Bible college can really help the Intellectual. I spent four years at Ambrose University and loved it dearly. Getting concentrated time to sift through Greek texts and the writings of the church fathers and mothers fed my soul in ways that I have not felt since. (Intellectual is one of my top 3 languages, in case you missed that). I still enjoy reading old text and new ideas and hope to go back for my next degree soon.

Intellectual artists (capital I) should allow their study to influence their work. Perhaps a Bible reading can inspire the painter to play with Scriptural themes in their work. A choreographer can try to capture as much of the Trinity that they can in their next piece. A writer can make allusions to older works or church history in their stories. Whatever inspires and draws you closer to God, study it!

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Intellectuals need to be aware, however, that there is a difference between knowing ABOUT God and knowing God. We are called into community with our Creator and we need to spend time in prayer with Him to truly get to know Him. Just as it is not enough for me to study my wife’s likes, dislikes, history, and dreams; I also have to spend time with her, journeying together though life. It is the same with God.

Bottom line for Intellectuals: spend time often in study, but also spend time often in prayer.

If you are an Intellectual, how do you best connect to God?

Worship Language: Contemplative

Hello everyone,

We’re nearing the end of our journey through the Worship Languages. We have two left. It’s been a great experience for me to dig into each of these with you and really think about how we can support our artists who connect to God in different ways, and how artists themselves can better connect with their Creator.

Today, we’re going to be talking about the quiet worshippers: the Contemplatives.

The Contemplative worships God through adoration, meditation, and prayer. They spend their time thinking deeply on the persons of God and speaking to Him at length. They get up early in the morning or stay up late for their devotional time. Contemplatives can sit for a long time just basking in the glow of the face of his or her Father.

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The musical worship of a church service can be helpful for the Contemplative if it allows the worshipper to pour out his or her heart authentically before God. Dedicated prayer time, perhaps with leading questions or statements will also serve our Contemplatives. The sermon can feed a Contemplative if it gives the worshipper more reasons to pour out love and adoration to the Creator. Contemplatives can serve on a prayer team, standing before God on behalf of individuals or the congregation at large, praising Him and asking for His help.

The Contemplative artist should spend much time in prayer before, during, and after the creation of his or her art. Seeking God’s face and His will for your work will allow each brush stroke, each dance step, each shutter click to become an outpouring of one’s adoration. Speak to God as you create, out loud if need be, and listen for His voice in your work.

If you can, get away from life for a time. Like the Ascetic, the Contemplative may find regular life distracting and a retreat can offer an extended time to speak with God and to listen as He responds. Unlike the Ascetic, the Contemplative may enjoy retreating with others and can feed off the words of love and adoration of others. Use this and allow it to push you deeper into God’s love.

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The Contemplative must remember, however, that we live in a world populated with people who need God’s love. If the Contemplative spends all of his or her day gazing into the face of God, he or she runs the risk of forgetting about the mission He has entrusted to His Church. We must love God AND love people.

Bottom line for Contemplatives: create space to spend time with your loving Father, and pour out your love to others as an offering to Him.

If you are a Contemplative, how do you best connect with God?

Blessings

We’re at the Calgary Expo Again!

Hey all,

Bonus post this week. For those who haven’t heard, I’ll be at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo again this year. I’m teaching another panel, which is awesome, but we’ve also been accepted into their short film screening for our film Star of Wonder!

Last year, I taught a panel session on post-apocalyptic media and what it can teach us about surviving today (you know, before the zombies rise or we run out of gas or the nukes go off). It was well attended, with between 80 and 100 people showing up. I had a blast with both the teaching portion and the Q&A that followed. I got a lot of feedback for an article that I want to write sometime in the near future.

This year, I’m going to be teaching on Disney films and what they teach us about being an adult. I’ll be going through some recent and classic films and explore both the helpful messages (friends are important), and the less so (getting married at 16 is always a good idea). We will look at some modern markers of adulthood and see how Disney reinforces or subverts those markers.

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On a related note, I’m excited that the voice actors of Belle, Ariel, and Pocahontas will be at the Expo this year, so there will be plenty of Disney love to go around.

This panel will be in the Palomino Room D at 7:00PM on Friday, April 27th. If you are going to be at the Expo on Friday evening, come check out some great Disney discussion! If you aren’t, then buy a ticket anyways and come hang out!

I’m also very excited to screen Star of Wonder in front of a public audience. We got great feedback from the church when it was screened there just before Christmas, but this will be the first time the film is being shown to the general public. I think the Steampunk-Christmas adventure will go over well, but having never been to one of the Expo screenings, I don’t have any idea what to expect.

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Star of Wonder will be screened in the Quarter Horse room (right next to the Palomino rooms) at 1:00PM on Friday, April 27th. Again, if you’d like to see the film on a bigger screen than your computer, come join us for a fun adventure!

If you can’t make it to the screening, the film can also be seen here.

I’m quite excited for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo this year. I have some people I want to connect with, some art to buy, and some geekiness to celebrate. If you’re going to attend, please let me know. I would love to share an overpriced Coke with you and chat about whatever nerdiness is your cup of tea (mine is often tea itself, but that’s for another post).

I hope you are all surviving this extended winter (if your local weather is anything like mine) and having a great week.

*Edit – the date and time of the Screening has been changed from the original post*

Blessings

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