I finally had the chance to watch “Rise of the Guardians” with Luna the other day. Being a Dreamworks production, it didn’t disappoint. I now want to get the books to share with her as well.
While watching it I recognized symbology from a variety of cultural, mythological, and spiritual belief systems. It made me glad I’ve cut out my awareness of reviews and commentaries on these things, because I am pretty sure this wonderful movie probably was denigrated and attacked as an effort to subvert religious values of our Christian nation.
I’m a Christian, but, it really bothers me when this happens.
Our country was founded of freedom OF religion. The intent being that any citizen of our nation would have the freedom to believe whatever they choose to believe and practice the tenets of that religion without persecution or government intervention. They can also choose not to believe or practice any religion at all. Therefore, the USA is not a “Christian” nation. It is a nation where Christians are co-citizens with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Neo-Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists and various denominations and sects of these and other belief systems. We do not have a right to expect our beliefs and religious mores to be adhered to by government or public institutions. We do not have a right to hold anyone, other than ourselves, accountable for teaching or disseminating our belief system. We have the responsibility to respect others in the manner in which we wish to be respected.
So, when I watch movies with Luna which aren’t specifically Christian in nature, I do not expect them to conform to the familiar symbols and figures of Christianity. Instead, I look for the themes and messages that align with the values I’ve learned from my faith. Values like hope, love, faith, community, cooperation, kindness and the like.
The characters in Rise of the Guardians are the guardians of childhood innocence: Wonder, Hope, Memory, and Dreams. They oppose fear and the things that strip away these intangible qualities of innocence.
So many of the conflicts and damage in our world have their roots in the neglect, abuse, and loss of childhood innocence. Identifying root causes and diagnosing mental health disorders often requires understanding and knowing childhood events. Many healing and recovery practices have people face their childhood experiences and memories where the loss of innocence took place. A significant number of self-help and personal development teachings include learning and practicing things that were an automatic and inherent part of being a child.
Those of us with unstable, disorganized, chaotic and insecure childhoods lose the innocence of childhood at too early a stage. Some fare better than others in their capacity to hold onto some part of these things. Some find the ability to still believe and pass it on. Often, though, without intending, willing, or trying we wind up in life patterns that perpetuate it.
We lose our wonder, hope, memories, and dreams.
We stop dreaming so we stop trying to achieve the dreams. We forget the joy and freedom (if we ever knew it) of exploring, getting to know the world around us, and the excitement of making new friends. We stop hoping for the things that fulfill us – unconditional love and acceptance, being part of something, bigger than ourselves, which encompasses us – and stop investing the time and effort to bring the dreams and hopes to fruition. Our sense of curiosity and wonder, which lead to gratitude and appreciation for the world around us and the people in them, leaving us uninterested and apathetic.
Loss of innocence is part of the process of growing up and happens quite suddenly and painfully for many of us.
Part of the maturation and growth process is reconnecting to that innocence. Letting wonder back in, remembering what is meaningful and significant, allowing dreams to flow, and allowing hope to conquer fear.
This is what I got out of the movie. Regardless of which mystical, religious, or mythological context the characters were based in, this movie illuminated and reflected values inherent in my Christian faith.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“. . . and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”