The World is “Dark, Selfish, and Cruel.”

by Lana Hope cross posted from her blog Wide Open Ground

I watch Tangled on TV at McDonalds this afternoon. I was supposed to be reading Paul Ricoeur (I had it on the table), but this is the time in the semester when I already have term papers semi-planned out, when our grad seminars are almost finished (they finish April 2nd), and when one more book is just not important enough to study with detail. (In case any professors see this, I am reading the book; but my brain is on overload, and I’m not going through and making 50 pages of notes on it like I normally do.)

I love the movie because each time I discover something new, but this time in particular I saw it differently because the movie was without sound. I had to read it.

The witch mother says the world is “dark, selfish and cruel” and Rapunzel says she is free at last. This tension between the dark and freedom is nicely played out.

And we can’t say that the cruel, dark, and selfish aspect is imaginary. The witch mom is not the only problem. Flynn and Rapunzel almost die at the bottom of the water. The thieves try to turn them in. Rapunzel deals with agony within her own soul, and she gets hurt.

But there’s freedom too. There’s joys. There’s the lanturns. There’s new friendships, and thieves turning their lives around. At the end, there’s a celebration with the whole community.

It’s been pointed out many times, and I’ve written about this out as well, that Rapunzel represents the homeshooler who was hid from the outside world. But I think Rapunzel also represents us all because we wrestle between greater freedom and between staying hidden.

We run from pain, we change our circumstances, we move, we slowly learn to back away from toxic relationship and parents, but there’s always that struggle with the demons inside that make freedom less free than it could be. But it’s that very struggle that makes the lanturns all the more beautiful when we keep on the path anyway. Rapunzel did it. She stepped out of the tower. She did it!

Last year I realized that I can’t imagine a world without any evil. And I’m glad for it.

I hiked down the grand canyon. I’ve done 10+ mile mountain hikes before, but this was the harder on me because I was not used to the dry heat (I’ve always lived in humid climates). But every step I took even when darkness was catching upon us, I said, “I’m glad this is hard.”

The struggle, mentally, physically, spiritually is what gets me up in the morning. If grad school was not challenging, I’d stay in bed. If I had no internal battle, I would not appreciate how far I’ve come.

But there’s a problem. In order for God to let me hurt myself, other people have freedom too. And that means that we hurt each other.

I think one reason theodicies get a bad reputation is that people falsely assume that a theodicy explains all evils. It doesn’t. It explains some evils. But it explains enough evils that mostly I’m glad that this world was designed with free will.

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Read everything by Lana Hope!

Lana Hope was homeschooled 1st-12th grade in a small town and rural culture. Involved in ATI, her life growing up was gendered, sheltered, and with a lot of shame and rules in disguise of Biblical principles and character qualities. After college Lana moved to SE Asia and began working with the abused, and upon discovering that the large world is not at all like she had been taught, she finally questioned it all, from Calvinism to the homeschool movement to the foundation of her Christian faith. Today Lana is a Christian Universalist, holds a B.A. in English, and is currently working on a M.A. in philosophy.  She blogs about the struggles she has faced leaving fundamentalism and homeschooling behind and how travel and missions has wrecked her life for good and bad at her blog www.wideopenground.com.

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