October 2, 2009

Mass Production

The word "cloning" takes on many forms and meanings. For some, it's a scientific term that can mean anything good and helpful to the things made of science fiction horror films. Filmmakers are fascinated with cloning and perfection to this day. (Just check out the new movie "Surrogates"!)

In the circle of Disney park fans, the same phrase and connotation is not one held with such high regard. One of the most recent reasons the term has gained such a poor reputation is to be found in the 2001 opening of Disney's California Adventure.

Here was the promise of a great theme park, the first one built next to the original and greatest. The one Walt Disney designed and loved until his death. Instead of something worthy of the Disney name, fans were severly disappointed, as the park was filled with cheap off-the-shelf carnival rides, films, and yes, clones. Muppets 3D, It's Tough to Be a Bug, and Return to Neverland were attractions directly airlifted from the parks in Florida.

In this park, cloning also earned a bad name in reverse: Disney Imagineering, under the direction of the company executives, decided to clone the one truly original and spectacular attraction to be found in the park: Soarin' Over California. This cutting edge attraction defined the theme of this painfully poor park, yet it was later placed into Epcot in Florida. The very vocal and loyal Disneyland Resort fans were now even more angry. Not only were they handed a poorly executed second rate park, now its premier and redeeming attraction was given over to its older and much larger resort.

Cries of mass production rang out as discussion began to hit the surface: talk of the attraction making the rounds to Disney parks in Paris and then in Tokyo came up. Fans were not pleased- but the trend bacame even more popular- and profitable- as multiple versions of newer attractions began appearing at other parks. Even the pending spectacular remake of California Adventure includes a Little Mermaid journey- which will also find its home in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

This kind of mass production cheapens the product and therefore the experience. Yet, there's only one place where I find mass production appealing; even a command, actually. And that is for the followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells his disciples that those whose who love Him will reproduce (See Mark 4:20). What a challenge! The parable of the seeds reveal the many different responses to Him. Just listen to the last part of his words on the subject: "Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word,making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop- thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."

Jesus' Great Commandment to love one another is also joined by the Great Commission to share this good news with those around you- the good news that in Him alone, God has provided a perfect payment for all our failures and shortcomings, and we can exchange this life for one of eternal peace that will be met in Him. A life with hope in the midst of sorrow and joy in the midst of pain. The cost? Everything you are- in exchange for everything He is and everything He offers. It's high price to pay for accepting such a gift. But he paid the ultimate price for us on the cross.

Some critics say Christians are clones; that we all look and think alike. Yet, there are many varieties of believers- just look at us individually and how many different places we worship. I think if we are similar in any regard, I would hope it is because we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus himself.

So let me ask: Can you think of anyone more worthy to become like than Jesus? I can't- and I only pray I become more like him. It's a cloning of which I am humbled to become a part.
(Images copyright Walt Disney Company/ Touchstone Pictures.)

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