I was going to write a lighthearted post about my Tinkerbell frustrations and asking if anyone knew the new series of films and whether they are good or not, and then I started thinking a little too hard.
Background (old news for anyone who knows me IRL): I’m referring to the Disney film and mostly its after-life, the on-going commercialization, here. I’m not talking about the point-of-light Tinkerbell in a play. Anyway, in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell TRIES TO KILL Wendy. She is a would-be murderess. (That’s how I always refer to her, “The Would-be Murderess, Tinkerbell”). Yes, she is sorry at the end and all is forgiven as Wendy chooses to enter the grown-up world and Peter Pan returns to Neverland and Tinkerbell. So that’s fine. But then, in the afterlife of the movie, all the glory goes to Tinkerbell. She has figurines, jackets, sweatshirts, jewelry, mugs, her own line of movies, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum. Now, I don’t know about the movies which are marketed to little girls (and I’d really like to if anyone does), but a lot of the Tinkerbell products are a little naughty and quite sexualized. It’s “edgy” and Tinkerbell is edgy and the good Wendy is forgotten. Tinkerbell became one of the “Princesses” and now anchors her own fairy franchise and Wendy is just a boring grown-up.
Full confession: I’m a Wendy (literally and perhaps in character), so I take this personally. It’s difficult to find any good Wendy stuff (and maybe that’s okay–it’s unique when I do find it–and yes, I do buy into the Disney commercialization empire–Yikes! That might be the real confession).
But now I’m thinking theologically, and I have two ideas rattling in my brain, neither fully formed.
1) Last week, during the Session meeting an elder brought up the question, do we have the task of, while welcoming the baby absolutely, also somehow acknowledging that having a baby out-of-wedlock is not God’s best plan? Our Pastor added to this the question of how to encourage the “good girls” sitting quietly in the pews when the “bad girls” (I’m hating the term, but having trouble finding an alternate right now) get to stand on the chancel and have everyone ooh and aww over their babies. And also, we have a number of single mothers in the congregation, what are we doing for them? And a whole lot of other issues. It’s the beginning of a dialogue that can bear fruit and she ended up going there in the sermon. So she preached on Matthew and the Psalm and confronted the issues head-on, mostly in real stories of real people, in what must have been a somewhat uncomfortable sermon for the mother-of-the-child, but was Truth and was loving and focused on belonging to God and thus also to the church and the responsibility of the church to the particular child and her mother as well as to one another in general. So what does that have to do with Tinkerbell and Wendy? Our society glorifies the edgy Tinkerbell and forgets Wendy who chooses to grow up, to be mature, to sit quietly in the pew. There might be rewards in the long run, but as a teenager, being the steady, invisible one is not easy. And the glorification of Tinkerbell in our society doesn’t make it any easier.
2) But here’s the other thing: Redemption. Tinkerbell tries to have Wendy killed, but she is sorry and she does risk her own life to make it up. We have to forgive Tinkerbell. She’s the prodigal. God throws the party for the sinner who is redeemed. Period.
Yet I find myself going back to point (1) (since that’s who I am). We need to find a way to help the “good girls” have their own parties and not become the judgmental and resentful “Older Brother,” but to learn compassion and God’s (not Self-) righteousness. I’m saying this badly, but I think there’s something here.
I don’t think “Purity Balls” are the answer, though I understand the impulse. I do think at least one underlying motive for them is precisely what I’m talking about. There must be something else though, something a little less fraught with its own difficulties.