[by Dean Smith] What is the greatest horror show of all time? I am sure a number could be thrown out. For the record I hate horror shows, but while attending Bible School I ended up going to the movie Alien. I remember my friend and I almost running back to the car after watching it, we were so terrified.
On Halloween evening in 1938, a CBS radio station in New York City broadcast a script of H.G. Wells’ book War of the Worlds. During the first two-thirds of the broadcast, it was treated as an actual news cast. People were so caught up by the story that portrayed an invasion of New York City by Martians that many actually fled their homes in fear. CBS was bombarded by calls about the invasion.
Surely these would be considered contenders, but still they are not terrifying enough to top my list.
To find my greatest horror show of all time, you must look to more family friendly fare — a Disney production.
It is none other than the infamous Disney cartoon Bambi produced in 1942. The story involves a fawn, Bambi, whose mother was killed by a hunter leaving Bambi all alone.
To grasp the horror, you have to focus on the cartoon’s target audience — four to seven-year old children. Ask yourself, what would be this group’s greatest fear? It would be losing their mother.
And that is exactly what happens to Bambi, he loses his mother — from a child’s perspective she is murdered. Bambi is left in the care of a distant father who has no concern and little to do with Bambi. My wife remembers watching the show as a young child and she found it deeply disturbing.
And in fact, many of the Disney productions have a similar theme — the mothers are killed or are mysteriously absent. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel didn’t have a mother and in Beauty and the Beast, there is no mention of Belle’s mom, only her dad. Even in a more recent Disney creation, Ice Age, a mother dies.
So claiming on one hand to be family viewing, many of their productions would fit better in a horror genre — at least from a child’s perspective.
Why did Disney movies go this way?
So why did Walt Disney, the founder of Disney, take his production company down this road? Glamour magazine recently did an interview with Disney executive producer Don Hahn.
When asked by Glamour why so many Disney productions have dead or missing mothers, Hahn told about a story from Walt Disney’s life that seems to have contributed in part to this morbid theme.
In the late 1930s, Disney bought a home for his mom and dad as a gift. But there was something wrong with the furnace and Disney sent some studio technicians to check it over.
But a short while later, the furnace leaked and when the housemaid arrived one morning, she found both Disney’s parents unconscious in the house. She pulled them out of the home. They were hospitalized, but Disney’s mother died. That took place in 1938.
He never spoke about that time because he personally felt responsible because he had become so successful that he said, “Let me buy you a house.” It’s every kid’s dream to buy their parents a house and just through a strange freak of nature—through no fault of his own—the studio workers didn’t know what they were doing. There’s a theory, and I’m not a psychologist, but he was really haunted by that. That idea that he really contributed to his mom’s death was really tragic. If you dig, you can read about it. It’s not a secret within their family, but it’s just a tragedy that is so difficult to even talk about. It helps to understand the man a little bit more.
Four years later, Disney released Bambi. One wonders if Bambi is actually a story of how unresolved issues from our past not only haunt us, but those around us?
One of the most difficult things we will ever face is forgiving ourselves and if Hahn is right, Walt Disney struggled with this. Many are plagued by memories and incidents that happened year’s ago.
The Bible says:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASV).
We are not only forgiven, but we are also cleansed. This means every stain and remembrance of the sin is washed away.
In Jeremiah 31:34, God says “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” He promises that if we seek forgiveness that He will never REMEMBER our sin. Since God can never forget, He must choose to forget.
This is the key to forgetting our past. We need to first realize that we are forgiven because we have confessed our sins and our mistakes and then willfully choose to forget.
When you look at the life of the Apostle Paul we see a similar story as Walt Disney.
Before his conversion to Christ, Paul, then named Saul, was a Pharisee and he actively persecuted Christians. Saul traveled from city to city having Christians imprisoned (Acts 8:3, 9:2). He was also involved in the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as prior to the stoning the men who murdered Stephen laid their robes at Saul’s feet (Acts 7:54-60) — suggesting he played a significant role in this incident.
But after his conversion, Paul understood two things. He understood God’s grace and the need to put his past behind him.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 NASV)
When those memories of past failures pop into our minds, we need to choose to forget, because God has forgotten them.
But it is a process. We see hints that at times Paul still struggled with his past. Years later, he mentions in his letter to the Corinthians that he was the least of the Apostles because of his persecution of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:9).
But Paul also understood the need to put his past behind him.
When those thoughts or feelings of guilt pop up, stop punishing yourself and chose to FORGET, because God already has.