Beneath the Pelagian Surface of Moana: A Conference Breakout Preview

Allow me to channel SNL’s Bennett Brauer (Chris Farley): I don’t “read much” and I […]

Charlotte Getz / 4.12.17

Allow me to channel SNL’s Bennett Brauer (Chris Farley):

I don’t “read much” and I don’t
“look the part” I’m not
“seminary trained” or even
“theologically inclined.”

I don’t “know what ‘Pelagian’ means” and I
“don’t look comfortable in front of an audience” I
“sleep in my make-up” and
“also with stuffed animals” I guess I
“talk too much” and I
“sweat when I’m nervous” and I
“can’t remember names” because I’m
“too concerned with myself” even though I
“don’t bathe regularly” and I’ve
“let myself go.”

I haven’t “learned my lesson” my
“coffee hasn’t kicked in yet” I haven’t
“kept calm” or
“found my bliss” but I’m
“talking at this conference anyway.”

On the surface of things, Moana (Disney) tells the story of a model-gorgeous Polynesian girl who saves her people through sheer grit and perseverance. Bennett Brauer would say:

She “has what it takes” she
“does her part” she
“takes the bull by the horns” and
“pulls herself up by her sandal-straps.”

In our culture today – so driven and exhausted by the lie that our success (our salvation) is in our own hands – this is an incredibly seductive notion. (Don’t all of us, even we gospel-warriors at Mockingbird, operate under this impulse every day?)

As we take a closer look at this beautiful film, what we will discover is a character riddled with self-doubt. She is neither capable nor equipped to offer life and rescue to her village (which is slowly being consumed by a “terrible darkness”).

Moana, like me, like you, has only one credential: she is chosen.

In this breakout session, we will explore how aspects of this remarkable narrative offer us – lowly, incapable, and weak – grace, hope, and a way forward in the grind of our everyday lives as Christians.

We possess neither the ability, free will, power, nor the righteousness to repair ourselves and escape the wrath of God. It must all be God’s work, Christ’s work, or there is no salvation.” — Michael Horton.