The popularity of Disney is enormous in our culture. With this power Disney yields one needs to zoom in carefully to get a sense of the messaging Disney’s movies feeds our brains. However, as is typically the case when people watch Disney movies (or any Hollywood production), they go into passive mode in which the logical center of the brain shuts down and they become open to the subtle propaganda messages embedded in the film. In short, what Hollywood does is take a person from created to think to now created to be entertained. When a person goes from “thinking mode” to “entertaining mode” they are susceptible to brain washing from the entity that is entertaining them. Disney is an expert at brain washing adults and children alike. Psychologist Jordan Peterson recently described the story line of Disney’s Frozen movie as a ploy of feminist propaganda in which masculinity is represented as evil on one hand and clueless on the other. The film reveals that the real hero of the day is the female’s rise to power in an individualistic manner above the corrupt male. Rather than rehash Peterson’s argument (which I agree with) I will draw out the positive aspects of Frozen. Even in propaganda, we can find small nuggets of truth.
A brief overview of Frozen and we’ll be able to discern the good (i.e. the Biblical themes) and the bad (i.e. the feminist themes). The viewer is taken on a journey in which a town called Arendelle has literally been frozen over by a mysterious spell that Princess Elsa cast on the town. It is stated early on that only an act of true love can restore a frozen heart and thus bring back the peaceful weather to Arendelle. The viewer is led to believe that this will be the typical Disney fairytale movie: something happens to the girl, and the kiss of her “true love” fixes it. Elsa’s sister, Anna, is on the path to being frozen to death so it appears that when Anna receives a kiss from her true love all will be healed.
However, the frozen heart that was the real focus of the movie is Elsa’s spiritual heart, not Anna’s physical heart. As a soldier seeks to strike a blow to Elsa in order to destroy her frozen spell, Anna ends up throwing herself in front of the sword and thus saving her sister. Anna’s giving her life for Elsa is the act of true love that restores Elsa’s spiritually frozen heart. When Elsa realizes what her sister did to save her life, she collapses with emotion on her frozen sister. Then, everything that was frozen by Elsa’s powers begins to thaw. Eventually, Anna thaws and is physically restored. The frozen spell has been deflated, and love wins in the story.
Even in feminism propaganda in which the hero of the day is a woman (not a man), this movie is drawing off deep Biblical themes. First, the concept of being frozen parallels the concept of being captured by sin. The town of Arendelle is trapped in an eternal winter and unable to thrive just like the entire human race is trapped in the chains of sin and unable to flourish. The character of Elsa having this frozen curse is representative of the entire human race having the curse of sin. Just like the frozen cold brings destruction and eventually death, sin brings death and destruction to the human soul.
In fact, that scene where Elsa sings proudly about her curse is reminiscent of many people today glorifying their spiritual sickness. This song is all about human pride. As the lyrics indicated, “No right, no wrong, no rules for me! I’m free! Let it go, let it go.” This line displays the problem of human pride – No one tells me what to do – I am the authority of everything. In short, this song demonstrates the problem of the deadly sin of pride. It is fitting, because at this point in the movie, the death grip of the cold begins to take hold to slowly destroy the town.
The other important Biblical theme is that Anna becomes frozen as the result of her sister’s power. Thus, innocent Anna has to now take on the negative effects of the frozen curse. With Anna dawning the torment of Elsa’s problem, we see the parallel of Jesus having to take on the negative effects of sin inherited from humanity. Here, the feminist propaganda reveals itself. The Jesus character is not male, but female. Be that as it may the Jesus imagery is still there (even though it has been warped). Just like Anna takes on her sister’s curse, Jesus takes on the effects of mankind’s curse. Another key Biblical image we can notice is Anna’s sacrifice of herself to save her sister and all of Arendelle is echoing Jesus’s sacrifice for all of us on the cross. Truly, Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was the act of true love for the entire world. I also want to draw off the realization that Elsa’s frozen heart was not fixed until she realized the nature of her sister’s sacrifice. Notice that evidence of Elsa’s heart’s restoration did not take place until she knew what Anna did. Anna had given her life a minute before, but it wasn’t until Elsa saw what happened, and understood it, that her frozen heart was restored
Now, most Christians will try to sum up emotional sentiments of Jesus by what he did on the cross – he give up his life for us. But, I suspect most Christians don’t have a proper understanding of Jesus’s sacrifice. Real conversion happens when someone understands His sacrifice on the cross. Once you know the full story, then like Elsa, your conversion will begin and your frozen nature of sin will slowly fade into the background. This idea of knowledge leading to a true conversion fits into most conversion stories. Most people will identify as a Christian and try to act the part, but the fact is most don’t have a clue as to what Jesus’s sacrifice is all about. Why? Because when I ask them, their answers tend to be vague, overly emotional, and lacking any concrete knowledge. Therefore, most tend to put on an act about Jesus’ sacrifice so as to fit in or to be perceived as a “good person.” But, this isn’t real conversion like Elsa had in the movie.
While emotional sentiments are nice they tend to be ambiguous platitudes that don’t offer people the stability that truth through knowledge does. The fact is that feelings and emotions is not a way to discover the truth. No one uses their feelings to solve a math problem. Knowledge gives people truth. Feelings come after truth. And the whole point of feeling is a response to truth. In other words, feelings only kick in after the truth has been established, and truth is established by knowledge, not feelings.
Deep down all people desperately want to know the truth in life. No one wakes up and says, “I hope I get deceived today so that I can have great feelings.” Thus, we all want to know the truth, however, we are looking for the truth in all the wrong places. Jesus famously declared that he was the truth (see John 14-6, 18:37, 8:31-32, 17:17). However, instead of finding the truth in Jesus and the Church he established, we mainly look towards the pop culture for truth. So, real conversion starts when we begin to dump the teachings of the pop culture and explore the teachings of the Church. Since Jesus declared this church would not falter (see Matthew 16:18), and his apostles declared the Church was the “foundation of truth” (see 1 Tim 3:15), then we can safely say that truth is found most directly in this Church. To follow the Church over the pop culture is going to take time, but eventually this is where real conversion begins. For me, I came to the shocking conclusion that the Church is the best path to ultimate reality (truth) and not the pop culture. After the conversion, I slowly began to drop the cares of the modern culture (pleasure, power, trends, money) and moved toward God. This was that ah-ha moment of understanding in which my frozen soul began to be thawed out by God’s message.
So, the real kicker is in the understanding of Jesus’s sacrifice. It is important to see that in the Frozen story, my story, and Jesus’s story, true healing comes after the understanding.
Jesus himself hinted at the importance of understanding in the parable of the sower (see Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23). Notice in the parable, Jesus talks about 4 types of ground that represent 4 types of people trying to hear God’s message. With the first type, Jesus says when “any one who hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what is sown in his heart.” (verse 19). So, because people are so addicted to the pop culture, they don’t take the time to try to learn about God’s message. Therefore, they become naive and are easy prey for the devil to deceive them. Then, the second is one who “hears the word with joy” they last for a little while but have no root, so they fall away. The second type of person implies you need more than just mere emotion to understand God’s message. So, approaching Christianity with warm and fuzzy feelings is not going to work to understand it. This makes sense because as I stated before emotion is not a way to know truth, emotion is a response to truth. Then, the third type of person hears the word, “but the cares of the world and the delight of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (verse 22). For my whole life I fit into the third category. I couldn’t decipher much of God’s sacrifice or what it meant because I was addicted to the pleasures of the modern culture. I suspect the vast majority people fit into these these 3 categories. Also, as the second type of person implies, people who try to connect to God via emotion will not last, because there is no root. Where does the root come from? It comes from understanding. Jesus confirms this when he says of the fourth type of person, “As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it, he indeed bears fruit.” (verse 23, see also Psalm 32:9)
Once we really understand what Jesus did on the cross, we will reach that magical ah-ha moment and then our real emotions will kick in. You don’t need to be a theologian or a scholar to understand God’s message. All you need to do is be a sincere, honest, humble seeker of the truth. God tells us that if you honestly want to understand, you will. He’ll give it to you. See the following passages below for proof:
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me (Proverb 8:17)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
And to close, Jesus guarantees us that if we seek him, he’ll be there, “Seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7).
Now, the above verses suggest this seeking is not on our terms but on God’s terms. So, this seeking to understand is not going to be based on what you want to be true. This seeking is going to be based of what is true. Also, this seeking will at times be a painful process as we give up our way and move to God’s way. However, after this seeking, the understanding finally comes in. As Elsa’s heart melted when she understood, so too will your heart. In this Year of Mercy, let us seek the real Jesus and not our version of what we want him to be. Let us not seek what we want to be true, but rather what is true.
Once we understand, the frozen nature of our soul will begin to be healed.