This one is right up there with the ‘religion’ professor, where I went to school, who packed the house one night with a lecture on the religious themes in Bruce Springsteen songs. (It was the ’80s. We were all huge fans.)
[Jennifer] Porter, who teaches religious studies at Memorial University in St. John’s [Newfoundland], was struck by the religious overtones at the Orlando, Fla. theme park – so much so that she’s starting a course on it in January, with the tongue-in-cheek title Religion and Disney: Not Just Another Mickey Mouse Course.
“The theme park productions, fireworks displays and so on always involve a morality tale and a requirement of the audience to believe in the power of good, and believe in the power of wishes… does that affect Disney audiences? Does that affect how they see the world?” [she said]
…she discovered Star Wars-Disney crossover fans debating whether Disney toys like Mickey Mouse dressed as a Jedi knight should be considered canonical – as officially part of the Star Wars universe. “What I was struck by was the strangeness, to me, that someone would argue Disney products should be canonical,” she said. “That got my attention.”
There’s always room to connect true faith with popular culture, but it’s a dangerous and delicate business lest the wrong one end up framing or driving the discussion. I’ve used popular films and music in teaching Sunday school, but in doing so, I’ve recognized just how delicate and dangerous it is. (E.g., “Can we skip the scripture/lesson and just watch the movie?” Uh, no…)
Be sure to check out the snowman photo-animation on the Memorial University website. Kids will especially love it. Guess they have a lot of time on their hands during those long, cold, dark winters up/out there in ‘Newfie’.