The Catholic Side of Disney

saint isidore, garden, nature, renewal, joy, peace

 

saint isidore, garden, nature, renewal, joy, peace

Growing up, I loved Disney movies as many children do. One of my dreams was to go to Disney World, but my family never had the money or time. Still, we enjoyed snuggling together with some popcorn to watch Beauty and the Beast or the newest Pixar show.

However, my parents also expressed concern about several Disney films and kept them from my sisters and me. For example, Ariel in The Little Mermaid disobeyed her father but was rewarded in the end. Pocahontas, on the other hand, confuses history majorly for children. Thus, certain movies were not found at my house.

Funny enough, the little girl whose parents who never took her to Disney World has ended up working there. Being with this huge company has taught me so much about it, its goals, and its outlook on the world. For the most part, my experience has been wonderful as well as renewing to my faith. Disney is certainly not a Catholic corporation, but it does have elements within its movies, parks, and overall company that mirror our values and beliefs.

Creativity and True Beauty Pursued

Disney certainly exhibits the drive to create. Not only that, this company combines that drive with the longing to make beautiful and meaningful works. These are not films filled with potty humor or cussing. There is usually a message of hope, love, courage, and/or other noble traits.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2501,

“. . .man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being’s inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God’s activity in what he has created.”

As I wrote last month, we are called as Christians to use our creative gifts and show true beauty. Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” We are called to give our all into our works whether they be a sketch of a tree or making supper. Our art honors God greatly, a fact we sometimes overlook.

Good Always Wins

Name a Disney movie where the bad guy wins? Can you think of one? No. There is always a sense of despair that the heroes will fail throughout the film. Yet in the end, they pull ahead and save the day while the villains are left to answer for their actions. The Beast learns to love and becomes human, Rapunzel rejects the manipulative lies of Mother Gothel and finds her real family, and Pinocchio sacrifices himself instead of being selfish which results in becoming a real boy. Good always wins.

The Catholic Church obviously believes that good always wins since God is goodness. He will be forever victorious over evil. Bad things happen; terrible hurts do fill this world. However, that does not negate the fact that His holy power is still mighty, and good will always triumph over the darkness. Psalm 112:4 confirms, “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.” Another verse that confirms the power of God and goodness is 1 Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Every Person is Important

Treating each guest with courtesy and helpfulness is a huge part of working at Disney. You must smile and care for everyone you meet no matter how upset they are. Seeing each person for what he or she is – a person – is huge. Guests are not numbers but people whose days are going to be made magical by you.

You might think that sounds corny, but is that not part of what we believe as Catholics, that everyone is important? That even those who annoy us have a purpose to play in this life? Both viewpoints are life-affirming and merciful which is certainly how God wants us to be. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 proclaims, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Numerous Other Ways

There are so many other elements of Disney that I could name that have lined up with my faith. Striving to serve others, wanting to be family-friendly, showing heroic protagonists throughout its films – you could look at each Disney film and pick out elements of just that movie. These three main elements that stand out to me as mirroring and fitting with my faith so well are just the beginning.

Though this does not mean that everything Disney is perfect, I have found more to love and grow from than stumble from over time. Seeing how some of my values and beliefs are honored is a beautiful gift that I am very grateful to have from Disney.

 

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44 thoughts on “The Catholic Side of Disney”

  1. Mickey is Jesus, Walt Disney is the Father, and anything the corporation makes that doesn’t reflect that will be burned away in the fire of His coming. For example, they retconned Mickey’s Rival in House of Mouse with a cartoon named Mickey and The Goatman so to provide a new canonical meeting for Minnie and Mickey that reflects how Minnie the bride really feels about Mortimer, the dead sea, who is Leviathan.

    1. How about Disney’s boycott of ever filming in GA due to their opposition to any restrictions on abortion? Hardly a Catholic value! We’re done with Disney.

  2. Some years ago I took in a short live musical production of Beauty and the Beast, which I think was an attraction at the Disney Studios park. I was impressed that the dialogue didn’t squelch the religious aspects of the story. I don’t know if it’s still part of the park, but if it is I hope it hasn’t changed.

  3. Ms Meeds, I am sorry, but I really, really disagree with you. The good things you cite are in the same realm as a broken clock being right twice a day. I used to love Disney but have come to strongly disapprove of it. Do any recent Disney movies have a dad that isn’t an idiot–if there is one present at all? What’s with the revealing costumes? What’s with the rebellious children–and their being portrayed as being right and their parents as wrong?

    I’m horrified to think that my kids even know that Disney has “gay” days. I don’t even want young kids to know about sex, never mind need to explain the mechanics of disordered sexual practices and why they are wrong–but A O.K. with Mickey Mouse.

    Isn’t Disney also tied up with ABC Family? (I don’t have a TV and live outside the US, so I’m not sure.) I do know this–that the stuff on ABC Family is not family-oriented to my mind. It seems like there are always 12-year-olds dating and kissing.

  4. Yeah, lighting up the castle at Disney World with the homosexually co-opted rainbow colors this past June 26th was pretty Catholic, don’t you think? Sorry Miss Meeds, you are grasping at straws here. There is nothing truly Catholic about Disney except for maybe some of its employees.

  5. Having read all the comments, all I can say that even attempting to refute all the Disney conspiracy theories and interpolations is like trying to give medicine to a dead person. Revising children’s Disney movies to reflect evil and satanic intent is similar to banning fairy tales because big bad wolves try to blow down houses, or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or the Little Mermaid or perhaps the theme hidden in Romeo Juliet. People need to get a real life!

  6. Anna
    You are not a well-informed about the current Disney agenda and movies.. I am a Retired Police Officer .investigator with 35 years plus. I suggest you research the hidden filth in most Disney movies including Frozen.. Just google and research for yourself. The Homosexual revolution at work from Disney Studio’s. Hidden and subliminal images and messages.

  7. Ms. Anna Rose Meeds. I am truly sorry for your mental afflictions. One would have to deranged to imagine finding anything Catholic about Walt Disney or Disney products.
    respectfully yours;
    Anderson.

    1. You would have to be more deranged to imagine that there was anything Catholic about this bitter post. Anna Rose, one of my best friends has aspergers, and I myself suffer from bad anxiety; thank you for a lovely article.

  8. Some of their films may have “positive” messages in them that align with Catholic/Christian beliefs, but as a corporation they have strong and legendary support for ‘gay marriage’ and they fund Planned Parenthood. About 15 years ago, my daughter and her friend got the surprise of a lifetime when they went to Disney World in Florida and it was Gay Day. Also, some of Disney’s TV programs promote the gay lifestyle as normal. I’m sure Walt Disney is spinning in his grave! Your quote: Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” can be used as an argument against Disney. Disney Corporation is a huge money-making machine who’s sole purpose is to make money for it’s shareholders, not advance the Kingdom of the Lord, as stated in Colossians.

  9. Funny i am at disneyland in california right now and find it to be the worst run amusement park i have ever been too. Sure they smile and say gee i am sorry when they screw up but they do nothing to rectify the the situation. And talk about pushing consumerism on your kids!
    No they are pure capitalist not Catholic.

    1. Catholicism and Capitalism are not mutually exclusive, unlike Marxism and Catholicism. Capitalism is not the problem with modern day Disney.

  10. Marion (Mael Muire)

    When I saw Pocahontas for the first time I was gob-smacked, also, by the fact that throughout the entire picture, the extremely . . . er, healthy eponymous character wore the micro-est of micro-mini-dresses which provided this curvaceous gal with no more coverage than an average-sized bath towel would. And it looked as if she had been poured into it.

    Photos and documentary sketches I’ve seen of early indigenous Americans do not depict the women in revealing costumes. Quite the opposite. They’re covered up.

    I kept asking myself: is this Disney or is this those folks who made Roger Rabbit?

    I wouldn’t let my kid watch Pocahontas for that reason alone – adding another layer to getting accustomed to immodesty all around them.

    1. Now if we could only close down every beach and swimming pool in the US and do something about babies being born in their birthday suits what a wonderful world it would be.

    2. Marion (Mael Muire)

      Thank you, James, for your thoughtful, beautifully-crafted, and incisive reply. Some of my English students are struggling with the concepts of metaphor and simile in our creative writing classes; I shall surely use your offering as an example of how it is done by a Master. That I should live in the same century as you is a privilege beyond compare.

  11. I watched Frozen with my daughter– I think she’d just turned 4– and came out gob-smacked with how much good Catholic-type Christian stuff was in there.
    Had several moments watching the new Avengers movie that were the same; my husband– who’s supposed to help teach RCIA for our parish this year– noticed them, too.

    I suspect a lot of what one gets out is what one puts in, but the problem of expectation comes in, too. And a lot of “Christian” things are more… protestant. Think like contrasting CS Lewis with Tolkien; which is obvious?
    (I love Narnia, but it is a LOT more obvious than Tolkien’s Catholic themes, and it’s hard to do a good story with that much obvious other purpose.)

    1. ” And a lot of “Christian” things are more… protestant. ”

      Just as an exercise in relativism, it would be interesting if you ( I assume you have friends
      from a variety of faiths ) substituted a good and faithful friend’s … Name, in place of the
      word “protestant” and see how it rolls off the tongue. 🙂

    2. My grandmother was raised as close to being in the Church of Scotland as is physically possible in Nowhere, California. The only thing she disliked more than the Papists would be the English. It was a major concession for her to be at her baby boy’s wedding to an observant Catholic, and an even bigger one for her to not interfere with our religious practices; some of her daughter-in-laws were not so honorable, especially the ones that were “raised Catholic.”

      That’s where I found out that even when we believe the same things, there are major differences in what’s an “acceptable” way to express them– and a lot of people will change their minds rather than agree with Catholic doctrine, when it’s explained to them in day-to-day terms. Thankfully, anime has done a really good job of making many Catholic twists on things exotic and interesting, rather than alien and scary, at least for some 30s-and-under folks. It at least gets some of the vocabulary into their minds.

      An exercise for you: can you think of any good and faithful friends who consistently do not express things in the same manner than you do? How about any relatives that you can turn off of an idea by phrasing it in a certain way? Groups of friends that use this turn of phrase and metaphor, rather than another? Examples for me would be relatives– who tend to use more rural and agriculturally related viewpoints– and gamer friends, Navy friends, geek friends and Catholic blog friends. Most people fit in more than one category, but if I use a certain turn of phrase with one group it can get a diametrically opposite response from another, if it’s not ignored altogether.

      Like Tolkien vs Lewis. Radically different styles, even when they’re both “Christian fantasy stories.”

    3. “That’s where I found out that even when we believe the same things, there are major differences in what’s an “acceptable” way to express them– and a lot of people will change their minds rather than agree with Catholic doctrine, when it’s explained to them in day-to-day terms.”

      I would probably need an example as this sounds contradictory in nature. ie:
      we believe the same things – “acceptable” way to express – change their minds rather than agree – explained to them in day-to-day terms.
      As one ages it helps if you stay clear of politics and religion in tete a tete mode
      if you know there are febrile differences. Ones vote is a private matter and the other is a personal relationship with God or lack thereof.

    4. “What part are you having trouble understanding?”

      I would probably need an example as this sounds …

      ” Have you tried the mental exercise I suggested?”

      Yes, I can think of only one example, very recent – but am still waiting for
      something concrete from you.

    5. I gave three solid posts– my initial statement, an elaboration of something you took issue with coupled with some examples, and a request for clarification.
      You seem to have taken offense to the mere idea that Catholics and Protestants do not express things in the same way–as if that rather drab observation was insulting to someone–and then spun off in an unrelated digression about avoiding two of the three forbidden topics in questionable conversation.
      Without a clear expression of exactly what you are having a problem with, I can’t help you.

    6. Last time around.
      I have a concrete example of what I think (?) you mean. This means I can provide a dramatic scene using fictional names, real time events and clear commentary. Your second and esp third paragraphs seem to be opaque and vague statements that do not provide any example. When you say “ That’s
      where I found out that even when we believe the same things, there are major
      differences in what’s an “acceptable” way to express them– and a lot of people will change their minds rather than agree with Catholic doctrine, when it’s explained to them in day-to-day terms. The keywords I highlighted – believe
      the same – major differences – change minds rather than agree ( about believing the same ) – do not constitute a “solid” post. At least this is how I see it. Forgive the digression, you’re too young to have experienced it..

    7. You are still not saying what you’ve got an issue with and seem to have branched off in yet another direction with an unclear thing I’m too young to have experienced. (If it’s digression, I’m sad to say that even with ruthless trimming about half of what I write is digression… possibly more; is a digression of a digression count as the same digression, a second one, or a multiplied digression?)

      Also, your formatting for highlighting does not seem to have come through.

    8. Ok, I’ll start at THE beginning. I have always had a problem with the word
      protestant. To me it’s no different than Muslims referring to most of humanity
      as “kafir” which means infidel. This is why I asked to envision a non Catholic
      friend and insert their name in place of. The family that referred in thought to
      you as “papists” has a religious affiliation. It is a proper noun and deserves the dignity of being distinguished as such. Methodists are not Lutherans and
      to ID their affiliation gives the reader some cause to understand what a
      particular issue involves. I asked for an example (not to be forward) hoping
      you might reference the wedding and what might have transpired esp with those“raised Catholic” to give me a better idea of how to answer your challenge. I’m not too old to have experienced anime and how it can bridge gaps but am too old to stop seriously digressing as pointed out by other columnists.
      .

    9. I’m sorry you feel that way about the description Protestant, but I am not going to try to find a work-around to convey the meaning of “those churches founded in protest of aspects or perceived flaws in the Catholic Church” any more than I will stop calling us the Catholic Church, or the citizens of the USA “Americans.” (Both of which seriously peeve several people of my acquaintance, but are perfectly clear in meaning.)

      *Wry* For the worst of my aunts, that is at least partly because she changes what church she’s in with a high frequency– and none of them are as big-name as the Methodists or Lutherans; she would simply describe as “Christian” or, if pressed, “real Christians.”

      Part of why I am not giving a lot of specific examples is because almost invariably people will argue with me about what happened, and I cannot refute them without airing a lot more of other people’s dirty laundry than I think can be justified. My equally geeky husband has compared some of the background information to Warhammer dwarves. (they have a thing called a book of grudges– which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like; my family is not that bad, but obviously the subject can make it seem so)

      I did think of a well-known example that works as an illustration of saying similar things in very different ways— the “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” question. I not only talk to Him every day, but I talk to His mother and nag his friends– yet I still would not describe that as a “personal relationship.”
      The related “have you accepted Christ as your personal savior”– I’m a confirmed, practicing Catholic; at my confirmation, at every baptism in our parish, every time I accept the Host– I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
      But we don’t express it the same, and in some cases you will end up chasing them verbally around in circles as they try to explain why talking to Him every day is somehow not personal, especially not if it’s done in a church.

      As someone that has a shirt that says “Proud Infidel,” I am probably not the best target for finding anything wrong with Muslims calling those who do not hold to their beliefs as non-believers, even if the implication can be quite rude. (And horrifically deadly– I have “problems” with their actions towards those who do not share their specific beliefs, not that they have a term for it.)
      One of my projects for this winter is to try to make some crafts with Nazarene in Arabic script worked into it, for similar reasons. The implications of what their actions would be are horrific, but the term itself? I am proud to follow the Nazarene. (Even if I don’t use that lovely black-and-gold icon on Facebook.)

    10. I have a bumper sticker in my workshop that says ” The only trouble with Baptists is they don’t hold them under long enough.” Would never air this as its a private joke about people who use cell phones and claim the bible is literally accurate.
      So, my fav nephew gets married. Raised and educated Catholic but
      lapsed (under 40) and lives far away but comes home to his mom and dad’s beautiful estate for the ceremony. My other fav nephew, his younger brother, a parochial school teacher and practicing Catholic is asked by said sibling to secure a JP-for-a-day license and marry them. My sis, a practicing Catholic is not too happy about this but arranges the whole affair – one of the most beautiful ceremonies and reception I’ve ever been to. So, in ending, my example is I get to tweak dear sister’s nose with the wording of the invitation – that shows her disappointment – by inviting people to the “union” of Jack and Jill rather than the “marriage” I’m done, Fox. Have a good one.
      .

    11. If I were, do you think it would change the validity of anything I say?

      Truth is no less true if it’s from someone from whom truth is unexpected; falsehoods are no less true when they’re in the voice of a generally truthful person.

      To argue against a point, attack the point– don’t proclaim impressions of someone who is making it, and attack those. All it demonstrates is information about you, rather than the arguments involved.

    12. Foxfier, I don’t think there was anything truly Catholic in Frozen, it is not just thinking it so that makes it so- and subjectively sure we can take away anything we want from Disney movies- but to objectively see things as they are is a different matter and it is the thing to which we are called- the truth is accuracy in representation as as St. Pope John Paul II said “the truth is not consensus, but the convergence of the mind with reality.” Anna Rose appears to be a lovely soul, and there is no doubt in my mind that there are many good and perhaps even holy people who work at Disney World, including Anna, but this does not mean that the movies, tv programs, including Modern Family and many other immoral programmings, are good, quite the opposite in fact. Christ told us to “judge not by appearance but righteous judgement.” Frozen is particularly vile, but as He said “satan comes as an angel of light.” It will not surprise me at all to learn that even on Catholic sites that the truth about Disney will illicit ad hominem attacks. But so be it, read this review and refute its points or attack its author. Read Andersen’s Snow Queen to see an authentic and beautiful fairy tale that is actually good for the edification of a child’s soul.

      http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/05/disneys-frozen-heart.html

    13. You are quite welcome to explain how self sacrifice and various other themes are not Catholic– as you point out, just thinking does not make it so.

    14. The audience may require much more time and space that permits here, but I would be happy to help. Start by reading the attached article and refuting the points in that. If I am wrong and Disney somehow conveys Catholic themes instead of the secular humanist agendas I assert than I am blind and foolish- but if you are wrong……

    15. My time is quite limited; you made a specific claim, and then branched out. I’m not going to go to an entirely different blog to boil down your views and then work on refuting them, especially not when the very post you responded to pointed out that a lot of what you get out is what you put in.

      If you are primed to expect, oh, that Frozen is a materialistic praising of homosexuality (as some reviews I vaguely remember did), you’ll find evidence; if you have been reading a rather random selection of Catholic theology and lots of Chesterton, plus early century English mystery novels, then the caritas and chastity themes slap you across the face.

    16. sure Foxfier, subjectively you can make Frozen mean whatever you want it to mean and you can even conjecture that the Church would approve of such an ideological diatribe, but I am suggesting that objectively Frozen has disordered themes grounded disordered ideologies much like Disney itself, which in general, is far less than wholesome- it is only people subjectively cherry picking that can make such personal claims- However, there is nothing truly noble that slaps you across the face in Frozen other than fanciful wishful thinking no matter how many English mystery novels you read and Chesterton would most certainly not approve and sure there is random catholic theology put out by heretical ideologues that would promote the themes in Frozen, still by Catholic moral standards, objectively speaking it is a foul movie not suited for children. It seems you are unable to defend your position against the linked article but I expected that.

      We really ought to be more careful about what we expose our children to-

    17. That would be a “no,” then.

      You have not made an argument for your claims, you have demanded that I go elsewhere and distill the argument I am to respond to from an old post elsewhere, you claim bad faith or at very least massive incompetence for those who disagree with you, and your claims grow wilder yet still do not have any actual argument for them, and seem to be assuming quite a few arguments that have not actually been made.

      You are even leveling claims of heresy about a cartoon movie, apparently because you really like a story it was very faintly inspired by.

      It’s clear that no, you are not interested in making a specific, concise argument– even something as minor as the theme of self-sacrifice, which if you’d responded to I could have elaborated on in the theme of vulnerability, and our culture’s lack of intimacy, and the emphasis on romantic love to the exclusion of all other sorts and the destructiveness of even well-meant selfishness– and that further conversation will just drive you into ever wilder claims.

      Heck, you could even have made an argument about how Anderson’s story was so much better, which I would’ve most likely responded with by pointing out the “fairy tale” format allows things that do not work in a musical– the ice-mirror-shard works in the former, but would come across as mental illness in the latter, which radically changes the theme of the story. (For a similar break, contrast a cartoon character being hit with an anvil, vs a live-action movie character being hit with an anvil. Or shot, or any other grievous bodily harm.)

      But I am not going to run off to somewhere else in hopes that I can make an response for someone who disagrees with me, but can’t be bothered to actually respond to what is said here.

    18. A lot of confusion here Fire-

      I would never say that anyone who disagrees with me is in bad faith or even wrong, my opinion doesn’t matter- also, it is absurd to suggest the the movie is heretical, it can’t be it isn’t even Christian- a Catholic who promotes it is promoting heretical ideas, the main themes are grounded in feminism. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all did things that their countrymen considered good and even Christian things, that doesn’t make them Christian. It is a bad idea to defend a company like Disney against Christians, but I do understand your points.

  12. I remember waiting to see the new Disney Movie every Sunday night with great anticipation as a child and to this day when I see the painted Disney castle and hear the tune it brings those memories right back to me and I smile. I remember every year at Christmas watching all of Disney’s old Christmas shows and still watch them now, to this day. Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge- Winnie The Pooh (and yes, my husband thinks I’m nuts, but he always secretly watches them with me…because he remembers this as a child too) My kids and Grandkids have all grown up on the old Disney shows, they were wonderful! Walt Disney was a very gifted man!
    Thanks for the little walk down memory lane 🙂

  13. Anna Rose-get ready-you are going to be deluged with stories of the evil of Disney. And then you will have to decide if you stay there. Often my wife comes up with another company or entity to boycott and I tell her if you follow your principles, and follow the money and all the entaglements of all the companies and corporations, you will end up living naked on the top of a mountain with nothing made by modern man, hoping that with your bare hands you can kill a wolf. God bless you and keep you always safe in the palm of His hand. Guy

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