My previous post, reflecting on some of the things I’ve read about Spike Jonze’ movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, was largely sparked by Russell Moore’s post on the movie. Part of that was the paragraph I cited in that post, reflecting on what is good about the original book. Part of it too, though, was Dr. Moore’s comment about Christians who object to the movie on the grounds that it’s too scary—something which he seems to think (and I agree) is rooted in the tendency of so much of the church to sanitize our faith, and with it our worldview, to make it nice and safe.
I’m amazed though by the way some Christians react to things like this. They furrow their brow because the Max character screams at this mother, and bites her, even though this is hardly glorified in the movie. They wag their heads at how “dark” the idea of this wild world is. Of course it is “dark.” The universe is dark; that’s why we need the Light of Galilee.
Where the Wild Things Are isn’t going to be a classic movie the way it is a classic book. But the Christian discomfort with wildness will be with us for a while. And it’s the reason too many of our children find Maurice Sendak more realistic than Sunday school.
Too many of our Bible study curricula for children declaw the Bible, excising all the snakes and dragons and wildness. We reduce the Bible to a set of ethical guidelines and a text on how gentle and kind Jesus is. The problem is, our kids know there are monsters out there. God put that awareness in them. They’re looking for a sheep-herding dragon-slayer, the One who can put all the wild things under His feet.