Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Frozen, Russell Brand and Pope St. John Paul II

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Not long after Frozen became the highest grossing animated film of all time, a cyber scandal accusing the masterminds of Disney of a “gay agenda” blew up all over social media. Whatever the potential motivations of Disney may or may not have been, the movie actually left me surprised by hope.

In these seemingly dark times when the culture of death looms around us, the plan God has for us written in our hearts, inscribed in and revealed through our human nature (qua embodied souls) is so undeniable that even adorable cartoon characters get it. When the lead character, Elsa, tries to repress and suppress her magical powers, she is left feeling alone, miserable and with a burden she was not meant to bear. When the pendulum swings the opposite way and she embraces self-centered “freedom” indulging her icy powers, the entire fairytale kingdom of Arendelle suffers from an eternal winter. Clearly, we are not made to suppress or repress our deepest desires, nor should we overindulge. Elsa learns that all is well when we order our “magical powers,” if you will, to love.

I was floored last week when I read this Life Site News article featuring a recent YouTube video by Russell Brand, the British comedian, former husband of Katy Perry and now…outspoken anti-pornography activist?!? The video is worth watching – though fair warning that it includes Brand’s naked chest and casual bedroom backdrop. He uses personal experience backed by sociological evidence to deliver his argument and the best part…he mentions a quote commonly attributed to Pope Saint John Paul II (he refers to him as a “priest,” we’ll take it),
“I heard a quote from a priest that said ‘pornography isn’t a problem because it shows too much, it’s a problem because it shows too little.”
He denounces the book and film, Fifty Shades of Grey and says, “Our attitudes towards sex have become warped and perverted and have deviated from its true function as an expression of love and a means for procreation. Because our acculturation—the way we’ve designed it and expressed it—has become really, really, confused.”
"Elsa" by Sam Howzit is licensed under C.C by 2.0.
Whether you are a princess covered from head to toe in sparkly attire or an outspoken and rugged bloke, clearly you don’t have to be a graduate of the John Paull II Institute to know that you are made for more, to know that you are made for authentic, life-giving love.  Even in the most unsuspecting places we find echoes of the call God has written on our hearts.
Taking a cue from Russell Brand, I leave you with these words from our favorite “priest’s” 1979 encyclical Redempter Hominis,
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
Fifteen years later in his Letter to Families, he further explained,
“The love which the Apostle Paul celebrates in the First Letter to the Corinthians - the love which is "patient" and "kind", and "endures all things" (1 Cor 13:4, 7) - is certainly a demanding love. But this is precisely the source of its beauty: by the very fact that it is demanding, it builds up the true good of man and allows it to radiate to others.”

As a high school religion teacher, I am aware of how very daunting communicating this truth is – and I am even more aware of how my task is actually quite simple. As Disney might put it, I need only awaken them to “their heart’s true desire.” 

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