What’s Missing From Pixar’s Inside Out

After a successful opening weekend, Pixar’s new film Inside Out is getting rave reviews. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98% and has already passed $100M at the box offices. Most people are applauding how Pixar conveyed the complex idea of animating the emotions inside a person’s brain in a dynamic and simple way, while adding classic humor and a tear-jerking story. *No spoilers, I promise.

Inside Out does deliver a powerful message about the role our emotions play in our daily decisions. We often understand emotions as the result of an action or event, so they are usually the effect of something. For example, it is common for us to say “I did poorly at work today, which made me sad” or “I lost my keys, which made me angry.”

But this ignores the fact that actions and events can actually be the effect of our emotions, meaning they are the root cause. That completely changes the mindset when you understand “I was sad, which made me do poorly at work today” or “I was angry, which made me lose my keys.” Inside Out demonstrates this well, because it is the emotions that power the actions of 11 year-old Riley, not the other way around.

Amy Poehler, who voices the emotion Joy in the movie, notes this neglect of our emotional intelligence when discussing her character on her website. She says, “we are really focused on the external as a society, so we are really into what happens to you, rather than how you feel about what happens to you.”

By making emotions the focus, Inside Out redefines the negative connotation emotions carry. In most Western cultures, we associate emotions with negative metaphors (perhaps a beast or a tornado) and view them as problematic annoyances. But Inside Out shows how vital our emotions are to the ability to adapt and navigate life. More specifically, the narrative suggests that even “negative” emotions, like sadness, are vital to our well being. We need to embrace every emotion in a balanced way in order to accurately understand our experiences and the resulting actions.

Even still, there is a remarkably significant part of Inside Out that people have yet to recognize–there is no villain. It isn’t obvious because the plot is engaging and follows a natural path of conflict and resolution, but the absence of a villain teaches us a very important lesson.

Our minds, and our emotions, are not the enemy.

No single emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, disgust, or fear, is bad. The fact that they are not the villains of Inside Out represents the truth that we need all of those emotions.

As an American, I frequently get frustrated by my feelings and I’m irritated that they prevent me from the ideal mode of happiness that our culture is taught to strive for. But constant happiness is a myth, and ignoring our other emotions has left this country with a lot of deep scars.

As a Christian, I have often felt like some of my emotions are wrong, or that I’m not strong enough in my faith because I feel sad and afraid at times. This is another lie we need to dispel, because our faith and our relationship with God are not determined by our feelings.

Colossians 1:21-23 says:
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [Christ] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (ESV).

The good news of the gospel is that even our minds and our emotions are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself experienced anger and sadness and fear, all of which were godly. Our emotions can be bad if they come from a place of hostility or evil, but by centering ourselves on Christ our emotions are restored to a healthy and necessary part of our lives. 

Pixar’s new movie is worth seeing for many reasons, but it is worth remembering because of what it can teach us. Emotions are not a bad thing, your mind is not the enemy, and Amy Poehler will always be a perfect casting choice.

Have you seen the movie yet?
What did you think?

Jesus, Sex, and Controversy

One thing that continues to puzzle me about writing and blogging is why some posts get more attention than others.

There are obvious reasons, such as when a post is controversial or speaks about a current event in a new way.

For example:
How many people would read this if it had the word sex in the title? How many people would read this if it had the word Jesus in the title?
How many people would read this if it had both sex and Jesus in the title? (Or how many of you did read it for that reason?)

These days it seems like people get more excited about a sex scandal, or a reality star’s sex change, than they do about war, politics, or faith.

The heart of the problem is that our definition of sex has a controversial connotation, but Jesus often does not. Somehow the name of Jesus doesn’t have as much impact on our culture today as sex does.
But why? Is it because we want to keep him safe? Is it because we are afraid making him controversial will turn people away? Somehow this lie has snuck in to the point where we felt the need to keep Jesus safely confined, instead of letting him push the boundaries like he always intended.

Because when Jesus first came, he was the most controversial topic of the day. Everything he said and did was far from safe. He shared meals with society’s outcasts, he spoke to those that any “good” Jewish person would shun, and he healed people that everyone else ignored. If the internet had existed at the time, his name would consistently be trending and your Facebook news feed would be covered with stories on him.

The actions and messages of Jesus were so different and so alluring that the controversy alerted people to the fact that he was nothing like everyone else. It showed people that he represented a promise of something better, because it was something that pushed beyond safe boundaries.

We have lost the radical message that made Jesus so controversial. It is important to note that this message centered around love, not hatred. There are Christians today who do supposedly radical things and make headlines, but they are not representing the love of Christ. They have created their own agenda based on incorrect assumptions, and it is controversial in a negative way.

There are always going to be critics, regardless of how positive the message is. Some people won’t ever hear the message, because it wasn’t controversial enough to outshine the Caitlyn Jenners or Jim Duggars of the world.

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) are still applicable today:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Whether it be blogging, speaking, or writing wordy comments—the way we discuss ideas should not look the same as the rest of the world around us. Hateful words and ignorant criticisms are pretensions that go against the knowledge of a loving God. We do not need to be overly controversial or have click-bait titles. Take hearts and minds captive by lifting up love, rather than waging a war of angry words and edgy messages.The radical love of Jesus is strong enough to grab attention on its own. 

Do you think Jesus is controversial?

How is his message different from the ones we hear today?

A Round Up of Great Posts On and By Women

Today is International Women’s Day. Men, before you get your boxers in a bunch, just remember that we still love you and appreciate you. But there are a lot of women in the world who don’t hear that message, and today honors the progress that has been made, as well as the work left to do.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite posts and thoughts on and by women:

For inspiration:
I Am A Dangerous Woman poem by Idelette McVicker

“There are still major obstacles for women: violence against women is still a pandemic, too few women are in leadership roles and most workplaces don’t make enough accommodations for working mothers, especially in the United States. But there have been some brief glimmers of progress, evidence that when we commit to global action for women, we actually can move the needle toward greater gender equality.”

“First wave feminists provided role models and a framework for responding to present-day issues of inequality. Second wave feminists led me to realize the necessity of a compassionate response to hurting souls longing for freedom from oppression. Scripture has compelled me to grapple with what it takes to build a more just world for all people—regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other human labels.”

For people interested in Hollywood:

For the Outdoor Enthusiasts:

Yosemite National Park did an AWESOME post with pictures and stories on influential women in its history

For my bookish friends:
“This is why we don’t stop talking about gender. This is why we don’t stop talking about diversity. This is why these conversations are vital, flourishing, and unapologetic. Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable and let’s keep talking.”

“Far more books are published by men than by women, perhaps because publishers feel that books by men are a safer bet. We can affect this by making a choice when it comes to the books we buy, since how we chose to spend our money is the most effective weapon we have.”

And in case you want some recommendations for great books by women, other than the Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf options:

Finally, to all the women in my life I would like to say thank you. To my mom, who taught me what strength means. To my aunts and grandmothers, who reminded me of our individual gifts and power. To my friends, who live bold and courageous lives that inspire me to embrace who I am. Thanks for being you and for teaching me how great women can be.

Who is a woman in your life that inspires you?
What are some great posts or stories you have found about women?