The Preacher’s New Groove

My girls are obsessed — obsessed, mind you — with The Emperor’s New Groove, which by conventional standards is a mediocre (at best) film in the middle of a mediocre (at best) period in Disney history.  So I take a weird sort of delight in sharing with you information they almost certainly do not have, and do not want, about this film.

Originally entitled The Kingdom of the Sun, it was to be a “romantic comedy musical” in which, The Prince and the Pauper–style, the emperor Manco switches places with a peasant.  He finds love with a peasant girl and eventually thwarts the evil witch Ysma’s plot to blot out the sun so she would quit aging. 

“Manco,” as it turns out, means “bad movie” in Turkish.  (It means something far, far more offensive in Japanese.)  The irony was not long lost on Disney executives.  Cost overruns and tepid responses from test audiences, combined with poor numbers from Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, prompted them to change gears with much of the film already completed.  They brought on a new team to provide new direction, a new script, and some new characters — including my girls’ beloved Kronk, voiced by Patrick Warburton.  And, of course, “Manco” became Kuzco, who himself was extremely offensive but deliberately so and not at the expense of the filmmakers or any particular demographic group.

The final product, though hardly a smash hit or a classic, managed to turn a profit and is generally well received.  But it almost wasn’t.

That’s a rather longwinded introduction to the topic of adjustments, but I myself needed a bit of coaxing.  I hate making adjustments, personally.  If I’ve already completed some work on an article, sermon, or whatever, I am determined to use it.  It may not be timely, relevant, or even very good.  But it’s done.  Nothing goes to waste.

Except, of course, that is silly.  “Throwing good money after bad” became a cliché for a reason.  What I like to call “refusing to quit” could better be described as “stubbornly refusing to admit I am wrong.”  It’s not as great a virtue as I sometimes like to believe.  It very well may be a vice, in fact — a vice that, in certain circumstances, could imperil my soul.  Whether or not I should actually change my attitude, behavior or values will depend on the circumstance, of course.  What should be beyond debate is that I should be willing to entertain the possibility of change.

Paul saw his faith in a state of constant flux — trending backward from time to time, unfortunately (Romans 7:21-23), but generally, with God’s help, trending forward (Philippians 3:13-14).  He urges in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?”  I don’t know what kind of “test” you conduct in your own faith examination, but I hope it is as rigorous as it is regular.  Me, I vary my Bible reading and studying techniques.  I reevaluate previously held positions.  I seek out people who disagree with me and evaluate their arguments.  I constantly examine my own life in light of Scripture and see if I can shine the light of Jesus more effectively than I have been.

Common sense tells me I can do better.  Jesus tells me I should do better.  But I will never do better if I just keep doing what I’ve been doing without any effort to improve.  I owe the Lord more than that.  I owe my brethren more than that.  I owe myself more than that.  

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