Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
"So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, your body clothed in righteousness, and your feet fitted with a readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Eph. 6:14-16
Are you ready? The Sorcerer's Apprentice asks that question of its young titular hero, Dave (Jay Baruchel), and we, the audience, are left to wonder: is this apprentice truly ready for what lies ahead?
Based on the Mickey Mouse animated short film in Fantasia (1940), this new live-action version once again explores the discovery and training of a young, inexperienced student to take on the mantle of defending the world against the powers of darkness.
Mentored by the millennium-old sorcerer Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), Dave must step into his role as the Prime Merliner - a distant descendent of King Arthur's wizard Merlin who has the potential of vanquishing evil.
However, when we find Dave, he is just a college student studying physics in New York City, not quite ready to be on his own in the world in his academic career, let alone any magical one. Balthazar encourages this young man to step up to his destiny, but Dave maintains he is far from ready to take on such a role.
At one time or another, we have all been in Dave's shoes. Whether with our relationships, our career, our prayer life and church participation, or even with the smallest tasks, we often claim we're just not ready to go there yet. Perhaps we feel unprepared or unworthy of whatever we're called to step into, but no matter - we often use "readiness" as the excuse for inaction.
But when we rely on the notion (sometimes true, often false) that we are unready for the next step in life too much, dangerous things can happen. In society, there is a growing fear of commitment - and this rears its ugly head in marriages and within families. Men and women put off the sacrament of marriage, citing readiness as the reason. Or even worse, they take the leap into marriage but then aren't ready for the hard work that relationships require to succeed.
In the Scriptures, notable figures such as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jonah claimed they weren't ready for God's call. But to each of them, God encouraged them and challenged them to put aside any fear of readiness - and charge ahead.
In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, is Dave ready for the challenges that await him? Perhaps he requires more discipline and confidence, but Balthazar believes in him and his readiness. The same goes for us: God believes we are ready. When will we believe God's judgment?
St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, challenges the community to be ready for a nonviolent battle - not with people, as Roman soldiers might do, but with the powers of evil in the world: corruption, selfishness, lies, persecution, hatred, violence, and apathy. He tells them, "So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, your body clothed in righteousness, and your feet fitted with a readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (Eph. 6:14-16)
This last point St. Paul makes, about faith, is important is bolstering our readiness. We fool ourselves when we believe we must face the world alone - and for that, yes, we will never be ready. By ourselves, we are powerless against the struggles of the world. But what seperates a believer from others is their faith that God will never leave them alone.
When we take a stand against the powers of evil in the world, we do it with a community of faith. We do it with our friends, our family, our colleagues, and our church - and through that unity, we are doing it with God and the powers of heaven.
On his own, Dave could not vanquish evil. But with Balthazar by his side and the support of his friends and loved ones, he was more than ready to take on the coming storm.
So whatever task or new adventure lies before us, will we be ready? If we have faith in God and believe in the power of community, nothing will ever be impossible for us.