Above: various ACSD students dressed in pink during Spirit Week in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month
Have you ever heard of "Disney princess theology"? Before I dive in to what this term means, I want to ask up front for some extra grace. I do not have a degree as a theologian, so I am simply sharing some of my thoughts and perspectives here, hoping it will in some way be helpful. Also, the context in which I first heard this term had to do with challenging white Christians and how their theology may at times be influenced by racism, and I recognize that this topic can be a touchy one. I am just asking that you would hear me out and know that my deep hope is, as always, to remind us that prayer matters and to encourage us to keep praying.
The idea behind Disney princess theology (as explained on the Holy Post podcast) is that when we read the Bible, we tend to see ourselves as the princess in whatever story we are reading - in other words, we identify most with the heroes. We like to think of ourselves as Esther rather than Xerxes or Haman, like Peter rather than Judas, or like the woman anointing Jesus' feet rather than the Pharisees. The uncomfortable truth, however, is that all of us have things in common with a whole host of characters from the stories of the Bible, including those who we don't think of as heroes or princesses.
Why does this matter? Is there any harm in learning from the heroes in the Bible and trying to emulate their good characteristics? Probably in many ways we would do well to ask God for the faith of Moses or the courage of Ruth or the patience of Job. Paul himself encourages believers by saying, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9)
But what happens if we ask God to make us like these heroes of the faith and never take the time to confess the very real ways in which we are not like them? Is it possible that the way we see ourselves affects the way we pray? Or maybe it's that the way we pray affects the way we see ourselves. Maybe it's a little of both.
G. K. Chesterton once famously wrote a very short response to a question that had been posed by The Times. The question was, "What is wrong with the world?" As you can imagine, many people would likely have many thoughts about how this question could be answered - and likely many of their thoughts would be correct - but here is what Chesterton wrote:
G. K. Chesterton
I don't know about you, but for me, when I imagine myself hearing someone respond in that way to that question, it has a way of immediately removing things like defensiveness or pride or animosity. Instead, it creates space for all of us to take a step back and just be human and allow others around us to be human too. When someone says "I'm the problem", it somehow gives me a little more courage to say, maybe I'm part of the problem too.
I suppose his response reminds me a little of the two people Jesus talked about in Luke 18 - the Pharisee who prayed thanking God that he was not like other people who were evil, and the tax collector whose simple cry was "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Interestingly, the verse leading into this passage says: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable."
Let me be the first to say that I have been that Pharisee. I have been confident in my own righteousness and I have looked down on other people. It is so easy to do, and I don't think anyone is immune from this disease of self-righteousness. (Or can we call it Disney princess theology?)
Oh that God would help us to learn to pray more like that tax collector! Imagine what relief we might all experience if we stopped thinking that we can only ever be the hero. Let's keep praying for God to refine us, and let's praise Him when He does give us the courage or strength we may need to be like those great men and women of faith in the Bible. But let's also keep confessing our shortcomings. And let's always remember, Jesus alone is the hero.
Pray with me...
... God, have mercy on all of us, in the ACSD community and beyond
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
... Jesus, show us how to teach our students a theology that is based on Your righteousness, not theirs
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11
... Holy Spirit, come have Your way in all of us
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord Acts 3:19
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory