The next movie on the blog for Christian Parallels in the Movies is Pocahontas. As soon as this movie came to my mind, I started singing the song, “Colors of the Wind.” The lyrics came ringing through my head from at least 20 years ago, “You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you…” And this truly is the heart of the message of this movie. We say people are savages simply because they are not like us.
Let’s start at the beginning of the movie. The movie opens with a crew getting ready to sail off from England to Jamestown, Virginia singing the song “Virginia Company.” We are quickly introduced to our hero, John Smith. The men admire him for his bravery, knowledge, and expertise. Then we meet General Ratcliffe. He is also greeted with respect; however, it is definitely not the personal respect given to John Smith.
Not long after the ship sets sail from England, we see them encounter a storm. Smith is called upon for help, secures the cannons, and ensures he can do much more than that, especially when it comes to dealing with savages/Indians. Then a man goes overboard. Everyone is willing to just let him be, but Smith jumps in after him and saves him.
After Smith and the man, Thomas, are back on board, Ratcliffe comes out and gives a speech about how needed everyone is. As soon as he is alone though, he reveals he needs them to get him gold and make a name for himself. Ratcliffe is the obvious face of greed and self-perseverance.
Meanwhile, we meet our other characters. These characters are the Savages, Indians, that the English men are so quick to disregard and kill. We see them farming the land, fishing, and celebrating the return of their leader, Chief Powhatan, from war. However, the chief’s daughter is not there to welcome him home. Pocahontas is quickly described as a free spirit like her mother.
We learn that Pocahontas has been having dreams about a spinning arrow. Grandmother Willow encourages her to listen to her heart. This is also happening as Chief Powhatan is telling Pocahontas she should marry a great warrior named Kocoum.
As with all Disney movies, arranged marriages do not appeal to our main character. He’s so serious. Though she knows it would be a good choice, her heart is telling her something else is coming.
As she is encouraged to listen to her heart, she senses it coming now and on clouds. Cue the ship sails from the Virginia Company. Pocahontas is almost immediately drawn to John Smith.
Meanwhile, greedy Ratcliffe has all the men tearing up the land looking for gold and cutting down trees to build shelters. After an encounter between the Indians and settlers, both groups determine the other to be savages.
Tensions are building, but Pocahontas and John Smith are falling in love… this really is the part I don’t like about this movie- an unnecessary love story between the two… but I will overlook it because the message of this movie is a good message.
In a series of events that Pocahontas feels is her fault, John Smith is captured by the Indian tribe and going to be killed in the morning. Knowing the John Smith has been taken captive, Ratcliffe sees this as his opportunity to take out the Indians, so he can have their gold.
As the two groups sing about the other being savages, they come head to head to fight. But Pocahontas intervenes and saves John Smith’s life. She tells her father that this is where the path of hatred has brought them.
Recognizing that his daughter is right, Chief Powhatan tells everyone that his daughter speaks with wisdom beyond her years and he would not continue to create hate. He puts down his weapon, but Ratcliffe still wants his gold. So, he decides to shoot Powhatan only to have John Smith jump in front of the bullet.
The movie ends with harmony between the two groups who once misunderstood each other, but now have a common ground- brotherhood- humanity.
This movie has two themes flowing throughout it. First, we have our sin problem- selfishness, greediness, self-promotion. This is clearly represented by Ratcliffe. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He only wants to find gold. Never mind that the land is filled with all sorts of beauty and potential for resources. He wants to find gold so that he can make a name for himself.
While the movie makes this point obvious, its not so obvious in real life. The truth is we are either led by the Holy Spirit or led by the world. What leads you? Self-image? Power? Money? If you even had to stop to think about this, the answer is probably not God.
Recently my cousin posted on Facebook that she used to be so self-conscience about what people thought about her. One of her friends told her not to worry because no one was thinking about her, they were all thinking about themselves. As you can tell, that really stuck with me. People are so wrap up in themselves that they really don’t care about others or even notice them. Which leads me to the next message of this movie.
A person is a person no matter what. Just because people are not like you, does not make them a savage. These two groups of people did not know each other’s way of life and assumed that only their way was the right way.
There are so many obvious ways to relate to this- race, culture, age/generations… I know you can see this one too, so let’s look somewhere uncomfortable- what about within the church?
My religion is right… yours in wrong. Music. We must only sing hymns… we must only sing contemporary. We must worship God only in the building… If you don’t go to church, you aren’t a real Christian.
Let me ask you again- what leads you when it comes to church? Familiarity? Tradition? Other people’s expectations? A Check off your Good-Christian list?
Guys! We got it all wrong! Church isn’t just about us!
Church is not a building.
It is not just something we do on Sundays.
Church is the body of Christ working to create God’s Kingdom here on Earth. But sadly, Church has become something we do rather than who we are.
We create division. We create a culture that is inclusive. Like a club that you have just always belonged to and somehow others don’t feel welcome… when really, we should be seeking the lost and growing this club… Making sure there is not only room but a place for them in our Church, in our hearts.
We cannot treat the outsider like a savage and expect them to want to follow our God. The Bible says they will know they are Christians by our love for one another. We must make sure they see our love for one another. True. Genuine. Brotherhood/Sisterhood. Every day of the week… not just Sundays in a designated building.
I hope and pray that if you are not already, you will be led by the Holy Spirit. You will come to church with a pure heart ready to grow in relationship with the Father and with other believers. We have been given a very special gift- salvation from our sins through Jesus Christ. We cannot keep this Good News to ourselves. We must share this news with all people and make room for them in our churches.
To close this post, I want to post some lyrics of the song “Colors of the Wind.”
You think I’m an
And you’ve been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don’t know
You don’t know
You think you own
whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only
people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew