HT readers may be interested in my six predictions for the future of American evangelicalism, as part of Patheos’ big symposium. I ran down some of the other participants’ contributions at FT. I’m pleased to see that neither naiveté nor despair are finding a wide audience among the participating leaders. As always, your comments are welcome!
John Lasseter’s Disney – the Pixar he founded and the Walt Disney Animation Studios he has reformed – are becoming the new source and center of a renewed, and in some ways simply new, American culture. They are the only major institution in the American public square that 1) teaches people the meaning of life, and 2) has the ear of virtually everyone. And the lessons they teach are entirely edifying.
They are slowly but surely turning our dying culture inside out.
They teach us the meaning of death (Toy Story 2) and love (Frozen) and the heroic (The Incredibles) and manhood (UP) and womanhood (Brave) and parenthood (Finding Nemo) and brotherhood (Toy Story) and politics (Toy Story 3) and commerce (WALL-E) and art (Ratatouille) and science (Big Hero 6). No one else teaches these things and is listened to receptively by all sectors of society.
What else do you want? They are becoming the source and center of a new, and renewed, American culture.
I am aware that you cannot build a culture only on movies. Questions of authority, and hence of the role of religion, cannot be avoided forever. It remains an open question what will happen when the renewed America of John Lasseter’s Disney clashes with the dying America of Obergefell and Burwell – those cases being as good a couple of proxies as any for the roles of Keymaster and Gatekeeper to our forthcoming Gozer the Gozerian (featuring special guest star Donald Trump as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man).
I hope and expect that diligent work by the church in the coming decade, work to love America with a holy love and convict America with a loving holiness, will position us for a positive outcome. That positive outcome is not a cultural victory of Christians over non-Christians; what does that idea even mean? A positive outcome would be a new moral consensus between Americans of goodwill and different faiths.
It’s interesting that I’m hearing a lot of people talk about this article, which boils down to “Pixar is a tool of the capitalist oppressor.” The apostles of materialism are right to be mad at the New Disney. People today feel a deep moral disconnect in their daily lives. The materialists, whether in or out of power, rely on that. Those in power rely on it to keep our energies sapped and our minds sluggish; revolutionaries know that it’s the only thing that makes their call for an overthrow of the political and economic system seem either plausible or legitimate. Anything that helps people redraw moral connections in their daily lives without either merely going with the flow or overthrowing democratic capitalism is a deadly poison to them both. We should anticipate that all efforts at moral edification in the public square will be opposed by them, revolutionary and reactionary alike.
But they will be supported by all the non-materialists, which is to say, the overwhelming majority; and, just as important, they are already finding a home in centers of cultural power like Disney.
Now to the business at hand. If you liked my 21 word review of Inside Out, you’re going to love the next 4,000.
And so the games begin. May the odds be ever in your favor!
From the Daily Bruin; HT Kausfiles
What kind of strange doctrine do we have here? A boy needs a mother, his mother?
Joe Rantz had one girl friend in his youth. He married her the day both of them graduated from the University of Washington. Joe’s wife Joyce, who had a hand in bring up his own half-siblings, was a devoted wife. This is how Brown describes her:
Over the years, Joe and Joyce raised five children – Fred, Judy, Jerry, Barb, and Jenny. In all these years, Joyce never forgot what Joe had gone through in his early years, and she never wavered from a vow she had made to herself early in their relationship: come what may, she would make sure that he never went through anything like it again, would never again be abandoned, would always have a warm and loving home.
Joyce died before Joe. In his old age and death, Joe is looked after by his children.
“The next culture war?” Man, wife, fidelity, vows, work, children, home, glory – these are the things we have been destroying, the things that men and women, boys and girls, want most, if they want anything at all, except for this one thing. Why, Chesterton asked, are we “home-sick at home?” If “the boys in the boat” teach us anything, it is that to be what we are, we must know, in experience or in hope, what a home is – father, mother, their children. Transcendence passes through the home.
For the record, and wholly aware of the “no true Scotsman” potential, here:
I know of not one writer, politician, pundit, thinker, academic, or public intellectual who thinks well of the execrable nuisance Donald Trump. I know a few people may feel relieved to see him offend people whose constant state of offense limits public discourse, but utterly nobody who thinks he offers a credible–or even intelligible–response to any current problem.
Can we please stop talking about him, now?