Tag Archives: Gaston

Fleeing the Mob

Read Mark 15:1-20

“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:19 NLT)

TheMobScenePerhaps you have seen the old Universal film, “Frankenstein”, starring Boris Karloff. If so, you will certainly remember the scene of the townspeople forming a mob  and chasing after the monster accidentally killed the little girl while playing with her on the dock. The girl had stumbled upon the monster, well, the monster actually stumbled upon her. All the same, the girl was trying to teach the monster a game of throwing flowers into the water of a pond.

She threw one and it floated. The monster imitated and his floated too; however, when all of the flowers were floating in the water and there were none left to throw, the monster decided to try the same thing with the little girl. It was, in all honesty, an innocent mistake. Unfortunately, the little girl could not swim and ended up drowning. Add that to the fact that this creature, this “monster”, was pieced together with the body parts of dead corpses by a crazed and mad scientist, and the people in the girl’s village were riddled with fear and rage.

Of course, fear and rage make for a deadly combination and, so, an angry and vengeful mob was the result. For those who remember this film, you will remember that this mob chased after the monster and trapped him in a windmill. In their rage, they torched the windmill and the monster inevitably burned alive after the windmill caved in on him. Following the film’s conclusion, one is seriously left wondering who was truly the monster: the creature, or the neglectful mad scientist and the raging mob.

Another film comes to mind when I think of mob mentality. In the Walt Disney film “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston riles a mob when Belle tries to save her father from being committed in a mental institution. In order to show that her father isn’t crazy in his ramblings about a “beast” living up in the castle, she shows Gaston and the crowd the beast through magic mirror the beast gave to her as a gift.

Using fear to persuade them, Gaston is able to easily persuade the  crowd into believing that this beast is ferocious and will come in the night to steal away their children and sink his sharp fangs into their flesh. Belle tries to counteract Gaston by telling the villagers that the beast is actually friendly and means them no harm; however, they’ve already mobbed together with pitchforks and guns and there was no way that reason was ever going to break through to them.

The mob ignored her completely, locked her up with her father, and ran off into the night to go kill the beast. In the end, they did so to their own detriment and at their own peril. Gaston, himself, ends dead as a result of his fear mongering. Thus, both “Frankenstein” and “Beauty and the Beast” can be seen, among other things, as a sharp and potent warning against mobs and the mob mentality.

We are so prone, as human beings, to run to the mill with what “could happen” that we often throw caution and reason to the wind in order to attack what we fear most. I see this happening right now in this country during this election cycle, and it is most certainly happening in our world as well. The more we are attacked by terrorists, and the more people’s perceptions of our stability and security become cynical and/or negative, the more people use that fear to drum up support for action that may or may not be reasonable, let alone practical or warranted.

The challenge for us is to flee the mob, to stay clear of it, to separate ourselves from the ferver, the fear mongering, the hype, the rhetoric, and the polarization that goes on in our communities and in our worlds. We need to put ourselves in an open space where we have room to take a deep breath, think, pray and allow God to guide us. It’s not that we shouldn’t heed warnings and/or look at all fear-inducing warnings as false or bad. They very well could be true; however, it is how we react to them that makes or breaks us. When we react like the common mob caught up in a rageful ferver, we fail to use our heads, our hearts, and our faith. God is calling us to flee the mob and seek God’s guidance and wisdom out in all that we do.

“The mob is the mother of tyrants.” – Diogones

Lord, help us to not to get caught up in the mob mentality and to seek only your ways and your guidance. Amen.

Human Again

Read Daniel 4:8-33

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49 NRSV)

BelleOne of my favorite Walt Disney films of all times is an animated film called, “Beauty and the Beast.” It is one of those rare stories that transcends its medium (e.g. animation) and reflects a truth and/or reality within its viewers. On the surface, the story is about a beautiful french peasant girl named Belle (whose name means beauty in French) who wants nothing more than to escape her present reality and live more than “this provincial life.”

Of course, based on the classic fairytale, we all know that Belle gets more than she bargained for. She finds herself locked up in a castle by a ferocious, hideous beast. Overtime, though, the Beast finds himself falling in love with Belle and, in turn, Belle finds herself falling in love with the Beast. It is, of course, that mutual love between them that will lift the curse on the beast and his castle, and will transform him from a beast into who he was created to be, a charming prince.

What I love about this tale is not so much the “happily ever after” end of it, but in the dark reality that leads up to the need for a “happily ever after.” In the Walt Disney version, each of the characters are shown to have inherent flaws. The prince, at the outset of the film, was cold-hearted and self-centered. When a beggar woman came to him to seek shelter from the cold, he rejected her because of her haggard appearance. Of course, that woman was really an enchantress and she cursed the prince, making his external appearnce match his internal self: a cold-hearted, fercious beast.

His court ended up cursed with him. While they had nothing directly to do with prince’s wicked actions, they were cursed as well. Perhaps some were undeserving of the curse but, as is often the case, they suffered the consquences of the sins and evil of someone else. Some of them were cursed to be transormed into the objects that represented their daily duties. For instnace, the maid became a feather duster, the head master the staff and spokesman for the prince, became a clock. The womanizing servant Lumiere became a candelabra. In essence, the very castle that objectified its subjects, and saw people as a means to an end, became doomed to be objects as well.

Moving beyond the prince, the other characters are imprisoned by their flaws too. Gaston is imrisoned by his own vanity and pride. LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick, is imprisoned by his desire to have status by virtue of his association with Gaston. The townspeople are imprisoned by their fears and ignorance. Maurice, Belle’s father, is imprisoned by is preoccupation with his inventions, allowing them to take precedence over his time with his daughter. Finally, Belle is imprisoned by her desire to have more than what she currently has. She doesn’t want to be stuck living the simple life, with simple people, settled down in a family that keeps her from exploring the world.

In the Broadway play, as the Beast and Belle start to fall in love, there is a musical number that the enchanted objects (e.g. Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Cogsworth, etc.) begin to sing entitled, “Human Again.” Seeing that the Beast and Belle have begun to understand what actually means to selflessly love, there is hope that the kingdom can be restored back to being “human again.” The heart of this song has an important message for us all. If we are to be truly human again, if we are to be as we were created to be, we will be consumed by selfless, unconditional love. In the meantime, we are only shadows (some of us even beastly shadows) of our true selves.

While not everyone will learn what it means to be love, those who do will be restored to their true humanity. Jesus Christ showed us what it means to be truly human, and what we need to do in order to be truly human again. Our challenge is for us to study Jesus teachings and examples one what it means to be love, and to begin to allow Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to perfect us in being truly human again. Let’s not  just admire Christ, but begin to live and love like him.

“Like a real human does, I’ll be all that I was on that glorious morn when we’re fin’lly reborn, and we’re all of us human again!” – Alan Menken and Tim Rice, “Human Again”, Beauty and the Beast

Lord, free me from everything that is keeping me from being truly human. Amen.