The Church of God vs. the Church of Disney

Entertainment makes up a great portion of our lives.  I myself grew up in the era of the Star Wars prequel movies – and to this day, I’m still a pretty big fan.  The thrill of watching the hero win for the millionth time never gets old, and reinventing that same narrative with a new and creative style is usually what makes for some of the best movies and books we come to know and love.  It’s the source of many of our conversations with friends and family – what was reserved for nerds in the 80’s is now cool for anyone to talk about.  And that’s perfectly normal – we talk about the things we enjoy and care about; we love to share our hobbies, achievements, and things we like to do. 

All men of this stamp (seeking pleasure in worldly things), I maintain, are pressing on in pursuit of joy, but they do not know where they may obtain a joy that is both great and enduring. Seneca, Letter LIX

Why am I singling out Disney?  Well, within the last few years, companies have suddenly started to care about ‘values’ and ‘politics’ in a bigger way than just making money and producing quality work – no, their work has to represent values that they, the company, stand for – and anyone who doesn’t like those values is their enemy.  This applies on both sides of the political spectrum.  To me, Disney is one of the largest corporations who is adamant on making everyone know what they stand for through their content and political overtures. 

“Representation” is a big buzzword that these companies use; this word is specifically directed at justifying anything they want to talk about – good and bad alike.  This form of representation, which comes through mass media and their content, isn’t about representation at all – most of it seems to be all about indoctrination and about pushing their product onto a consumer, plain and simple.  Do you think companies really go about “representation” because they really care about these issues or that they really aren’t trying to push their own agenda on their consumers?  An example of how companies can be hypocritical can be found in John Boyega, an African-American actor for the newer Star Wars trilogy.  He was singled out and significantly reduced in marketing directed at Chinese consumers – as Chinese society has very different views than America, and so Disney was willing to cave to them.  It’s still about money, and even when it’s not directly about the money, it’s about pushing an agenda. 

On the other hand, Moses Ingram acted in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi TV show, and there was some criticism directed at her new character, with a big fuss made on social media.  Let’s be clear here – racism is never excusable, in any form, in any way – and having seen the show, I personally thought Moses acted very well and didn’t deserve the rabid critiques of the fanbase.  The point I’m making here is that these companies are treated very selectively, and people almost worship them and their agendas, eating up any content they push out, arguing about every last detail and either treating actors/actresses as angels sent from God or as minions sent right out of Hell itself because they didn’t act well in a movie. 

It’s not a bad thing to love a good Disney movie – there’s so much to love about our forms of entertainment.  But isn’t it so interesting to see how emotionally attached people become to these forms of entertainment?  Isn’t it so interesting to see how our entertainment becomes ingrained into our lifestyle?  We enjoy watching football, so we go play football.  Or let’s talk about the enormous amount of Baby Yoda merchandise swelled up by worldwide market?  Doesn’t this seem almost like a religion of its own sort – even though it’s not claiming to be “true”? 

I often hear progressives refer to religion as just another form of entertainment to make us feel good.  The old saying from Karl Marx goes: “Religion is the opium of the masses,” and that’s what many people who aren’t religious think about it.  But look at most of our entertainment!  Whether it’s sports or Disney movies (as fun as both of these are to watch and buy merchandise from), this is what we talk about all the time!  Not only that, but this is what we let influence our lives and teach our children by spending time with it!  Fans of different shows and sports argue and discuss these things all the time – they know the littlest, tiniest details, yet if you asked them to say a rosary or to pray with them, they’d struggle to remember the words, or even to stay awake because it isn’t “fun.” 

This “Church of Disney,” even though it applies to entertainment going far beyond Disney movies, is worldly and focused on producing content that makes money and indoctrinates us with their values – to present their values in a good light, and to make the values they don’t support look bad.  That’s not to say we can’t enjoy it, but we have to realize what it is and that there are people behind these companies with a purpose in mind, who seek to influence society, and who are out to make money.  That’s also not to say that there aren’t great directors and actors out there who want to make amazing movies that everyone loves.  But in an age where screenwriting and review sites usually help guide audiences even before the film is released, going against the grain doesn’t usually lead to success. 

As we all know, the American corporate system is a good thing overall – it’s good that big studios can create amazing content. But it has an agenda, and is not unbiased at all.  With these companies entering into politics not just to protect their own riches, but to push an agenda that they stand for, they’re blurring the lines between the Separation of Church and State. 

Christ said “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), not the Magical Kingdom down in Florida.  It’s easy to critique religious identity if you don’t believe in religion; it’s a whole different idea to live up to that.  Entertainment and relaxation aren’t bad things, but we, as faithful Catholics, should primarily prioritize our faith above everything else – such as going to Church, finding time for prayer, and charitable works for those in need instead of worshipping Mickey Mouse by giving him all our time and attention.  St. Paul puts this very well in his letter to the Colossians:

Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God:Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:2)

Far from what the enemies of religion say is an “opium,” we should focus our attention on Christ, even when it doesn’t feel fun or seems boring.  Instead of selective “representation,” we should seek to save everyone, unbiasedly, and take our position as baptized Catholics, representatives of the Kingdom of God on earth.  We should live that out with our friends and family, just as much as we talk about the newest Marvel movie – rather than follow the gospel of the “Church of Disney.”

We worship God – not heaven and earth, of which two parts this world consists… but God who made heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; who made every soul, whatever be the nature of its life, whether it have life without sensation and reason, or life with sensation, or life with both sensation and reason.

  – St. Augustine, City of God Book VII

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Joshua Nelson attended Franciscan University of Steubenville to earn a BA in Philosophy and a Minor in Finance, along with attending the University of Michigan for a Masters in Accounting. He has a deep love and passion for the re-emerging philosophy of Stoicism, and believes it applicable to many aspects of our modern Catholic life, especially when it comes to bringing the supernatural into our ordinary routines. As an elected part-time Township Trustee, he serves his community by trying to bring his uniquely Catholic perspective into both his private and public life.

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