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I passionately resent it when the irresistible forces of time mess with my pristine childhood imprinting. When you took your first steps watching Cinderella lose her glass slipper, or Sleeping Beauty kissed free from the curse, you form certain expectations of life. One of the glories of innocence is to view the world in very elementary categories; good and bad, love and hatred, youth and age, beauty and cruelty. This simplicity gives immature brains time to process the intricacies of a complex world in their proper season.

Walt Disney movies were the most significant pop-culture forces of their day. Based on fairy tales, folk stories, timeless works of literature and fabulous, symphonic compositions, they became beloved favorites. They set the industry standard for excellence, creativity and craftsmanship, elevating everything with a flourish of grace. Cartoon animation was revolutionized. Such was the fodder I cut my tender eye-teeth upon. To see it bastardized to feed the frenzy for fashionable wickedness grieves me past words.

It’s hard to believe, but Disney, the last bastion in Hollywood for entertainment decency and fairy tale happily ever after has finally sold the Virgin out for the Villainess. Who is the latest marquee headliner? Maleficent. I’m not joking. Apparently, loveable princesses are Box Office passé. The spotlight has shifted to revel instead on the dark, mesmerizing energy of hatred. It’s become vogue to magnify the occult; to put every ferocious form of vice and depravity under the lens and deconstruct it to feed the insatiable appetite of this generation. Somewhere, poor Walt is turning over in his mausoleum.

As a youngster, I vividly recall the visceral emotion I felt when the envenomed beauty of Maleficent swept into the story. Undeniable elegance mixed with pure malevolence takes the breath away. The amazing thing is, that to this day, I still recognize that moment of childhood enlightenment when unclean or malevolent strongholds enter my vicinity. Internal yellow warning lights flash. Sadly, we long ago learned there is a spirit that takes pleasure in harming others just because it can. It delights in being cruel, causing pain and wreaking havoc wherever it enters. Unfortunately, this is not the stuff of mere fairy tale.

It’s not that hard to recognize overt agents of evil, even though they seem much subtler than historically. Trickier by far is recognizing the coiled vipers nestling within our own bosoms. Whether it is the voice of our own internal self-hatred, or the Judas-traitors in our close circles of relationship, hatred is unfailingly near at hand. Just as Maleficent showed up when the blessings of new birth were being celebrated, so Satan is a past-master at the art of concealment and subterfuge in the fabric of the everyday. We’ve become experts at hiding our contempt, scorn, skepticism, enmity and offense behind complex webs of social interaction. Recognizing the dark matter of hatred for its’ true nature is one of the finest masteries of life. It takes serious tutelage under the Holy Spirit to even come close to it.

Psalms 35-39 are a wonderful study in enemies, adversity, enmity and hatred. When David was on the run from Saul, the hostility leveled against him caused his own deep self-hatred to rise to the surface. The difficult issues of his childhood and strained relationship with Jesse, his father, became magnified. His internal dialog became a morass of negative reaction, extirpated only by his gift for worship and his unfailing trust in God.

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation. All my bones shall say, “Lord, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”

Attackers gathered against me, And I did not know it; They tore at me and did not cease; With ungodly mockers at feasts They gnashed at me with their teeth.

Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions.

This You have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me. Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, To my cause, my God and my Lord. Psalm 35:1,3, 9-10, 15-17, 22-23 NKJV

Lately, I’ve been tentatively exploring the darkest corners of my own heart. I’m trying to be honest about my personal deep-seated slag-heap from the past. Family issues have turned an unflinching spotlight upon terrain where forgiveness and reconciliation are not a completed process. There are viruses of offence and resentment. Venom and vitriol still tremble on my tongue; a sure sign that bitterness lurks latently. The soul is a huge storehouse with any number of dangers on the loose, so when you find yourself revisiting sites of old trauma, you realize there is still work left to do.

Welcome to the world of grown-ups. Disney ideas of nice and good aren’t going to survive the crucible of modern culture and the acid test of authentic spirituality. Trade in your naïve, religious, rose-colored glasses for the eagle-eyed gaze of the prophetic. Find a pair of stout boots, because you’ll be trampling serpents and scorpions. Get your spiritual armor on. It’s time to anticipate trouble in advance by admitting to our own natural bent towards wickedness and hatred.

It takes courage and honesty not to let the emnity and twisted bitterness of others disillusion us and kill our faith. The fresh oils of the Word and worship keep us cleansed every day from pernicious agents. Don’t let hatred poison you from believing in the goodness of God and the absolutely complete and infallible work of Christ’s cross. That ancient enemy, as personified in Maleficent, has already been thoroughly, finally, defeated.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 NKJV

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