Alan Cross blogs at Downshore Drift.
When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.
That is the part we all know. The rest of the song is insightful as well:
If your heart is in your dream, No request is too extreme, When you wish upon a star, As dreamers do
Fate is kind, She brings to those who love, The sweet fulfillment of, Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue, Fate steps in and sees you through, When you wish upon a star, Your dreams come true
So, we can be whatever we want to be if we just dream it and do it. Progress is inevitable. The human imagination and will can conquer any challenge. We can do it – if we just dream hard enough and set our minds to it. This message is promoted constantly and shows up all over the parks. In front of Cinderella’s Castle, there was a show that we saw that had Minnie and Mickey and all of the Disney princesses and this was the theme of the show. Wish and dream and your destiny will come to you. People in the crowd were wiping tears from their eyes. It was magical.
Epcot tells the story of human progress and how we can conquer anything through Science, Technology, imagination, and working together. It’s a small world, after all! Right? We are all one and we can build a better tomorrow if we just dream it and try. When I was walking into Epcot one morning, the song playing over the PA was called, “Celebrate You!” It is time to celebrate ME! I like that message. My selfishness does, anyway.
Disney exists as an institution to make obscene profits and provide fun for people. But, they also exist as an institution to tell a certain story and to convey a certain type of “truth.” People pay big money to be a part of it and Disney works hard to tell their story correctly. They could just stop at being an amusement park that provides fun for families – but they are so much more than that. They are telling a story and sending a message.
In thinking about all of this, I realized that their approach was very powerful. They built an institution to tell a story and people drove long distances, stood in line, paid huge sums of money, and went through many ordeals to immerse themselves (“Immersive” is a word that Disney uses to convey their approach) in the Disney “magic” and mystique. Is Disney wrong to do this? While I disagree with their story/message, I actually think that they are geniuses.
The Church has a much better story. We have THE Story. It is true and it is powerful and lifechanging. We should tell it well and tell it creatively. Building ministries and institutions to tell the Story of Christ and Salvation and Hope in the Cross is needed. We shouldn’t invest time, resources, and energy to tell the story just so we can “reach more people.” We come across as salesmen when we do that. However, we should give our whole lives to tell the Gospel Story in every possible way as worship to God. We should give our time, treasure, and talent to tell the Story because it is a story worth telling. We should engage our children with wonder and beauty and goodness and we should work hard to build institutions that will last through the cultural storm. I am not saying that the Bible proscribes any certain way that we are to build these institutions and strengthen them. Obviously, marriage, the family, the local church, indwelling our communities with justice and righteousness, and Christian colleges, hospitals, ministries, and businesses are valid, important, and needed. We should start there. But, as we build these things and take the time to tell the Gospel Story through every aspect of our lives, we should always be looking for new ways that the Story can be told. How can we engage people with the Gospel? How can we give them a firm place to stand in the midst of a culture that tells them that they are crazy to believe what they believe?
I have learned a lot from Disney and from the believers in India. Mostly, I have realized that we are always telling a story of some sort and we are always building institutions and kingdoms even if we don’t realize it. The question is, are we building up the world’s institutions or are we bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom that will last?
In the next post, I will work out how we can build Christian institutions that will serve the mission of the Gospel rather than call upon the mission to serve the institutions.