WAYNEPARK.COM

Pastor, Writer, Contemplative

#GODonFILM: Making Sense of KUNG FU PANDA

I was really embarrassed to announce that as part of our GODonFilM series we were covering Kung Fu Panda 2. But there are some merits:

  1. The theme of technology vs. spirit (i.e., Kung Fu being outmoded by the cannon – the precursor to the gun). So the question is, can something as spiritual / mystical as kung fu stop a speeding bullet? Is technology a contaminant to the purity of spirit? Should we all stop blogging and abandon twitter? Alas, I don’t go here in my talk.
  2. It IS the first movie directed by an Asian-American woman. The perspectival change is already evident between KFP 1 and KFP 2.
  3. Themes of predestination and fate: Evil Lord Shen is told a panda would one day lead to his demise. So the question for you thinkers is; would befriending or eradicating all pandas alter his destiny at all? Is it in any way avoidable / redeemable?
  4. Biblical genocide in true Herodian fashion. ***SPOILER*** of course, Shen, being consummate evil (because he is played by Gary Oldman) goes the genocidal rout. Destroy all Pandas… but of course one survives. How original.
  5. Po wrestles with “daddy issues” (or lack of)

So how did I whip up a sermon out of this?

I chose to look at another family drama played out between two brothers, Joseph and Judah over the course of 14 chapters in Genesis 37 to 50. I wouldn’t say the parallels are precise, but the unfolding family dramas in KFP2 hearken to some of the dysfunctionalities in Israel’s line. I know that’s overreaching but – well worth exploring.

What resulted was a sermon inspired by Robert Alter‘s (Berkeley) narrative critical approach to the Judah / Tamar story wedged in between the larger Joseph framework (what some technical folks call framing, or inclusio, or sandwiching). Here’s a link to the talk.

What delights me is that this sets us up for next week’s talk on the Tree of Life perfectly. So get ready for Joseph / Judah part II this upcoming Sunday.

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