Although my wife and kids were able to go see Happy Feet when it was on the "big screen" I hadn't had the opportunity until just this past week. I must admit I really enjoyed it. In my opinion they did a great job choosing the voice overs: Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman were great. I really liked the idea of the heart song too that was woven all through the movie; the idea that there is something inside us that serves as our one burning passion, even if in the case of the movie it was a way to woo and secure a mate.
What I found fascinating was the tension between the "old traditional" way of doing things [Emperor penguins sing] and this supposed new intrusive virus [Happy Feet, or Mumble, of course dances and doesn't sing]. Mumble just didn't act like an Emperor penguin so therefore he was banished because his heart song exhibited itself in a non-traditional way.
It made me think a lot about the church. So many desire that Christians look and act just like good Christians always have. Yet there are some of us whose "heart song" isn't best exhibited in the traditional [or at least the modern Western expression] expressions of Christianity. I think of, forgive me Doug [Pagitt], Emergent as the Church's "Happy Feet." Not only are we not content to be defined as Christians simply by tradition, but we are driven by the sense that we are participants in something that is both extremely ancient and extremely new at the same time.
I also found it interesting the risks to which "Mumble" was willing to go to demonstrate that their current state of affairs [a lack of fish] wasn't due to the fact that they had somehow displeased the "Great Gwinn" [the penguin god] but that a new species [human beings] were harvesting their waters taking in massive hauls of fish that were affecting the entire ecosystem.
It made me think about how fear works in the church and how powerful a grip it has on it. We perceive anything "new" as a virus and abhorrent expression of faith that has no place in our current structure, when perhaps, as was the case in Happy Feet, this new expression can lead to life [Mumble manages to get the attention of human beings, after being captured, by unveiling his unique toe tapping gift and thereby the human beings decide that overfishing the area is no longer a viable option if it is going to destroy the Emperor penguin population].
So what's my point to all this? Don't worry be Happy Feet! [OK sorry for that one I had to get it in there]
Seriously though, I think we have to ask ourselves, especially those of us within mainline expressions of Christianity, just was we are willing to risk to get the attention of those we need to. And, not only that, but how might our courage inspire others to join in our own unique version of toe tapping in order that we might reach another entire generation with the Good News of the Gospel.
Well, these are just my initial thoughts anyway. There are so many other things I can pull from the movie, the different species of penguins, and their interaction with Mumble, etc. What do you think?