Parents of infants and toddlers, you will understand.
Most mornings when I wake up with Kai, one of us is slightly more awake than the other. The one of us who’s the more cognizant? That would be the one-year-old who wakes up and literally hits the ground running…or rather, wobbling. Because the requisite 73 cups of coffee have not entered my bloodstream just quite yet, I find that I suffer from Early Morning Stare Syndrome (EMSS). Many of you know full well what I’m talking about – EMSS is when you find yourself awake, not fully “there” mentally, and so you wind up just..staring. At anything: the wall, the dog, reading the ingredients on a box of cereal…the list could go on.
Now, before Kai was born, most of the time I focused my EMSS on “watching” morning cable news programs. However, some of the images and stories on at seven AM aren’t really kid-friendly. And since I’d prefer to not add to the litany of issues that Kai will probably have to eventually work through in therapy, he and I have discovered the majesty and wonder of watching The Disney Channel in the morning. Every. Morning.
Maybe it’s sleep deprivation. Maybe it’s the fact that God likes to show me the spiritual within the mundane. Maybe it’s just that I’m slightly kooky. Whatever the reason, because I’ve seen these shows over and over and over and over again…my mind has decided to begin to hyper-analyze what I’m watching. Probably as a defense mechanism to insure that I don’t snap and start to talk in a sing-song pattern.
Therefore, I present to you, Sonny’s Theological Dissemination of the Disney Channel, using selected cartoons.
HANDY MANNY: completely side-stepping the issue of if Manny represents a negative cartoon stereotype or not, there are two distinct clearly spiritual tenants evident on this show.
One – the tools: Felipe, Turner, Stretch, Squeeze, Pat, Dusty, Rusty and little Flicker. For those of you who have watched more than one episode of this show and who are somewhat versed in the passage from Galatians that outlines the fruit of the Spirit, you may start to see some personality and trait match-ups between – say – an anthropomorphic screwdriver and the gift of patience. And yes: there are eight tools and nine fruits. Perhaps this means that Manny still has to add one more tool to the box…? (Cue the “He’s Still Working On Me” song.)
Two: Kelly. I’ve come to the conclusion that Kelly is the representative of God in this cartoon. Think about it: every time Mandy comes to her in supplication, she has exactly what he needs, when he needs it. All he has to do is ask for it. Now, I’m not sure which might be the more heretical idea to some: that God would run a hardware store or that God would be represented by a woman. Either way, if you stop to think about it, it makes for a neat little allegory and illustration on the way God always has what we need. All we have to do is ask her.
MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE: Toodles is the Holy Spirit.
Jaws off the floor, please.
Think about it: Toodles descends from off-screen, as the manifestation to bestow the gifts when he is called upon. I mean, we’re already completely stretching the meta-contextual ideas of theology and spirituality, so how hard is it to consider the possibility of this as a representation of a concept in Christianity that many of us continue to struggle with to this day? So – if you’re willing to entertain the ideas that the Toodles/Holy Spirit analogue can and does bring the tools we need for the situation we find ourselves in, even going so far as to include a Mystery Mouskatool, showing that we need to be open to whatever the Spirit/Toodles brings us, it goes a long way to helping us understand the working of the Spirit, and how the Spirit operates.
It also makes you giggle a little if you stop to craft the mental image that in Acts 2, instead of tongues of fire, everyone had mouse ears on their head.
And personally, I'd love for They Might Be Giants to lead worship. I finally might hear songs I can get into.
SPECIAL AGENT OSO: perhaps the weakest of the trinity of ‘toons discussed here, Oso doesn’t really contain any deep spiritual issues I’ve been able to observe.
However, I think that whoever writes this cartoon clearly is the pastor of or is a member of an emergent/contemporary church. Why? Because all Oso EVER needs are three special steps. That’s all you need. Three special steps, and you’ll learn to succeed. And you have to do them in sequence.
If THAT doesn’t just reflect the content of what a typical Sunday sermon in an emergent church might sound like, I don’t know what does. All that’s lacking are some blanks to fill in. Even the titles of the episodes on Oso are parodies of titles to James Bond films, thereby checking off the requisite pun/rhyme an emergent preacher might use with the three special steps for success in your life God has in store for you.
Try not to snicker the next time you see or hear one of these preachers speak. It’ll be difficult, I know…