Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kung Fu Panda - A Reflection

Last night my family watched Kung Fu Panda. My Dad could and probably should be the president of the Bruce Lee fan club so I kind of have a soft spot for Kung Fu flicks (I grew up convinced that Enter the Dragon was the greatest movie ever made), and the movie was enjoyable, nothing offensive to the kiddo. But there was one hitch that left a bad taste in my mouth. No there wasn't any foul language or nudity or anything like that, but sometimes it is the more subtle things that trip off the radar. And this was one of those moments for me.

It came near the end of the movie when the Panda has really become the Dragon Warrior and has earned the right to see the Dragon Scroll, he opens the scroll that is supposed to give limitless Kung Fu power (pretty cool for any kid under 13) and what he discovers in the scroll is the problem for me, the scroll is simply a blank reflective surface. What the Panda learns is that all the power that he needs is simply to believe in himself. And when he does this he easily beats up the bad guy.

Why is that a problem, don't we want our kids to believe in themselves. To have a healthy self-esteem and self-awareness. Well sure, but part of a truly healthy self-awareness is that we are not truly independent people. I depend on people everyday. I need other people. But the deeper and more troubling angle is that I don't want my kid or yours to be convinced that they have in themselves all they need because the truth is that our kids and everyone of us are desperately dependent on God. We need His strength, we need His Wisdom, we need His forgiveness, we need His daily guidance, we need to experience His love, and the deeper fact is that all we have has been given directly from His kind hand. When we look at the source of hope it is not an inward look. When I look inward I am frightened by what I see, by what I'm capable of. But the true look of hope is an outward look into the face of God, because we see there love and power perfectly mingled. In His kindness He perfectly cares for His covenant people, and in His power He is able to care for them without ever a worry of failure. So lets keep our kids and ourselves from looking at our reflections and instead gaze into the face of God.


Joshua Owen said...

Thanks for the review. My mother-in-law got the movie for the kids to watch this weekend. I'll see if Caleb picks up on the gospel of self-esteem (which is not another gospel).

Joshua Owen said...

Well, we watched the movie Thursday. Caleb did not have much to say about the self-esteem message, though he was concerned about whether they worshiped the true God or not. He wasn't sure about the repeated statement, "There are no accidents." We talked a little about the providence of God in governing affairs. We agreed that there are no accidents from God's perspective, though there are things that happen that we don't intend, like rear-ending someone on a bridge on the first day of Christmas vacation (1994). However, we had to take exception to the statement that there "no good news and bad news, only news." This statement truly shows the difference between the impersonal spirituality of Buddhism that cannot make moral or aesthetic distinctions, and the personal and sovereign God revealed in Jesus Christ, who declares things good and separates the clean and the unclean.

Our church has been discussing Acts 17 and the use of culture to build bridges to unbelievers. Often these discussions only revolve around what we might call "high culture." But the exchanges that took place between my son and me shows that even pop-culture can be used to explore worldview questions that are only finally answered in the good news of Jesus Christ.