On CAPC: Beware The Frozen Heart
If you’re a fan of the latest Disney fairy-tale inspired-by film Frozen, and are (like me as of last weekend) spoiler-free, you’ll enjoy this. From Amy Lepine Peterson at Christ and Pop Culture:
I’m thankful for every chance to talk about the themes of the movie with my daughter, because I think it could help her avoid a set of lies that I believed for far too long myself. Lies like these: Polite women don’t talk about their bodies; they cover them or pretend they don’t exist. Self-control and modesty are the ultimate virtues for women. Emotions, passions, and love are dangerous and to be feared.
I’m convinced someone at Disney has a fundamentalist/religious background. After Tangled, this is the second film in a row that subtly-yet-strongly explored such themes of legalistic self-denial. Only someone who has truly struggled with such notions — and won out over them not with false freedom but with grace — could know how to explore these themes in a story.
Read the rest of Beware the Frozen Heart.
This story does that so well — I cried during the opening scenes — the two sisters in “Do you Want to Build a Snowman.”
It felt so close to my own story. And I loved how Elsa doesn’t find true freedom in throwing it all away then in “Let it Go.” It’s found through someone else showing her love — real love. Love that dies to save her. Only then does she learn to love, and through love, to turn the curse into something beautiful and bless others.
I still don’t know how to reconcile emotional love with self-sacrificial love. I was taught that the highest form of love is to die for someone else, or less dramatically, at least to sacrifice your own desires.
I’ve never really questioned this, and it’s foundational to my worldview. Even C.S. Lewis taught that emotional love can be selfish — there’s a scene in The Great Divorce where a mother begrudges her child’s right to be with God because of her own emotional need.
I’m not disputing the power of the movie’s message, and I sympathize with the non-gender-specific side of the experience. My passions really do cause problems when I lose control over them.
Anger? Yes, I’ve lashed out and alienated the few friends’ that I’ve had, a handful of times.
Lust? Done it. That’s one thing the Internet’s good for.
Emotional pity? I’m always shaming myself when I post self-pitying comments, and I also regret it afterwards.
So, I’m failing to see how releasing emotions and passions is a good thing.
I don’t mean to play armchair therapist, but seriously, there are points at which self-sacrifice becomes unhealthy, and one of those things is called “codependency.” It can go bad both ways. Either your other is a tool who keeps demanding and demanding until you’re drained, or — like in my case — the giver ends up being rather manipulative because he expects something in return for the above-and-beyond that the recipient never expected or asked for, and the giver ends up drained anyway by means of his own unrealistic expectations and thick head. (You can probably tell that I’m still angry over this.)
But it is a bit of a liberation to be able to tell yourself “I’m feeling sad, and that’s okay,” or “I’m angry, and that’s okay as long as I don’t take it out on people who don’t deserve it,” instead of having to suppress it because the only way you know how to deal with it is to stomp it down and deny it until you don’t feel it anymore. Any armchair psychologist can tell you that denial is not an actual method for dealing with things.
Tangenting off on this emotional train, I present this link: http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/feelings-returning
Of course, but that doesn’t have much to do with the apparent contradiction between emotional love and self-sacrificial love.
I think we’re supposed to acknowledge our feelings and desires. Christian self-sacrifice should not be self-delusion, but we obviously shouldn’t try to gratify our desires most of the time.
Buddhism and Christianity are both big on self-denial, but I think there’s a critical difference between them. The Buddhist version of self-denial is about purging yourself from harmful passion and ambition, leaving yourself empty. I would say that the confused Christians that Darin Hufford writes about in the Free Believers article are living like Buddhists. Proper Christian self-sacrifice is to acknowledge and even revel in passion, but to deny ourselves the things that we are passionate for, and therefore to suffer willingly.
Obviously, this is hard to do. So, instead of loving with all our emotions but then willingly embracing personal sorrow (which is the true test of real love), we decide that we should sacrifice our emotional desire to love at all. Also, after you realize that you hurt people you like, it’s easy to tell yourself that the most loving thing you can do for others is to stay away from them.
(Not that I’m an expert on Buddhism or even Christianity, but I don’t have the patience to describe my limited understanding of Buddhism and to chronicle how I came to this possibly erroneous belief about the difference between the two religions.)
Okay, then, I’m missing the <i>purpose</i> for this theoretical sacrifice. Why does one have to deny oneself this desired thing? If it’s just out of principle of desiring the thing, then that just looks like self-flagellation. Is there a reason the thing would be harmful to you or someone you care about?
Man, it’s hard to talk about this in generalities. Just what would you do as non-emotional, sacrificial love in a relationship? How do you expect it would benefit your other? Or do you think your potential other would be harmed just by being in a relationship with you? That’s another can of worms.
That’s what is relevant to this discussion, because that’s what the character in the movie came to believe. I haven’t seen the movie, but I read the CAPC article. She accidentally zaps her sister with her magical powers or something, and then she realizes that she must bury her magic. If she can’t contain her magic, she has to flee from other people in order to prevent herself from hurting them. The magic is analogous to feelings and to emotional love.
But my confusion is over the definition of love. And it is just theoretical confusion, not some repressed situation that I’m griping about.
“Love is not what you feel, love is what you do.” “Love is a choice.” “If you really love someone, you should be willing to let them go for their own good.” “By this we know love, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.” “Selfish love is actually disguised hatred.”
“God gave us feelings, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to express them.”
Can anyone else see the apparent contradiction?
So you prefer sacrificial love because it’s easier to identify and define? Is warm-fuzzy-love just too ambiguous and existential for you to really put stock in?
*rattles Prozac bottle* This might call for drastic measures.
But on a more serious note, there’s a point at which logic is rather futile on emotions, and I think we’re approaching that point. Warm-fuzzies may not have an easily definable purpose, but I like them anyway.
I didn’t say that I prefer anything. I’m getting mixed messages about the true definition of love, and I’m confused. If love is sacrificial, how can it also be self-gratifying?
That’s assuming there is a single “true” definition of love, particularly since the English language only has the one word to encompass all the nuances. Yeah, it can be contradictory and confusing. I’m not sure there’s much we can do to fix that.