Week two of our worship series, “Life, Death, and Disney,” features the movie “Soul.” “Soul” is a beautiful, award-winning movie that explores themes of purpose and meaning, basically asking, “What makes life worth living?”
The story of the movie’s release is noteworthy. Release was postponed twice because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Eventually it was released directly to the Disney Plus streaming service, on Christmas Day, 2020. It was the first Pixar movie to not be released in theaters. I find it fascinating to think about how a movie that asks such existential questions was released in a season during which we have all been asking them.
What makes life worth living? How do we find the “spark” that keeps us going? Is there such a thing?
In the case of Joe Gardner, the main character of the movie “Soul,” music provides that spark. He is a jazz pianist, pursuing a breakthrough gig that will launch his music career. Ever since he was a child, jazz music had motivated him and provided focus for his life.
The book of Ecclesiastes explores similar questions. Considering that life in this world is fleeting and the same fate befalls everyone that lives, what makes life worth living? “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.”
There’s no doubt that we’ve been going through some major adversity in recent years. The collective trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic, the constant state of bitter conflict among our political leaders, the dawning realization that systems we once relied on are corrupt and fragile, the powerful taking advantage of the circumstances for their own profit and prestige … after all of this, what makes life worth living?
I encourage you to watch the movie “Soul” some time this week. It is available on Disney Plus and for purchase on Amazon Prime. It is visually creative and delightful to watch. The soundtrack features original jazz compositions by Jon Batiste. The characters are deep and full. And it will raise some important existential questions that we’ll be pondering together in worship.
See y’all in church.