Christianity and the wild

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.

Hallelujah! Amen.

Posted in Books, Children, Religion and theology.


  1. I LOVE this! I teach 2nd and 3rd graders in Sunday School, and (shh, don't tell) although we use the story in the packets, we use very little of the other materials. My kids are so wise to the ways of monsters and this world that we can get our own little dramas going that are way over the head of simplified games and activities. Our discussions are sometimes amazing, and even a little scary. These kids have such a different worldview than I did at 7 and 8 years old, and it's humbling to see their hunger for Christ, even at that age.

    Thanks for a great post! Reading a little backwards, now I'm going to read the other one about the wild things. lol

  2. Yes, my kids read the actual bible, the storybooks are silly and full of conjecture and opinion anyway. They ask things like,

    "Hey mom, what is gonna happen to Satan?"

    which leaves me no choice but to read the pertinent chapters in revelation to them. They love it.

  3. Yeah, we have had long talks about that too. I just tell them that Satan broke God's heart, and that He will probably always love him — He just can't trust Him.

    It is interesting that Satan seems, of all creatures, somehow unredeemable. Being that He is so terribly intelligent, and beautiful, it makes me very sad as well. I should have loved to see him as he was.

  4. Pingback: Embracing the wildness of faith | Wholly Living

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