I grew up in the 1950’s in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of you baby boomers like me will remember the Disney movie Fantasia made in 1940. I didn’t know what was going on in the film other than it got boring about half way through. That was about the time the hippo’s with tutu’s started dancing.
However, I do remember two of the eight compositions and accompanying film parts vividly. I remember the scary ones, A Night on Bald Mountain and especially, our subject for today, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was based on a poem written by German poet Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe in 1797. Later French composer, Paul Dukas, wrote music to Goethe’s poem in 1897.
According to Wikipedia, the poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform. Tired of fetching water by pail, the apprentice enchants a broom to do the work for him – using magic in which he is not yet fully trained. The floor is soon awash with water, and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how.
The apprentice splits the broom in two with an axe, but each of the pieces becomes a whole new broom and takes up a pail and continues fetching water, now at twice the speed. When all seems lost, the old sorcerer returns and quickly breaks the spell. The poem finishes with the old sorcerer’s statement that powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.
In the Disney piece, which retains the title “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, Mickey Mouse plays the apprentice, and the story follows Goethe’s original closely, except that the sorcerer (“Yen Sid”, or Disney backwards), is stern and angry with his apprentice when he saves him. Fantasia popularized Goethe’s story to a worldwide audience. The segment proved so popular that it was repeated, in its original form, in the sequel Fantasia 2000.
That was quite a hard lesson for Mickey to learn. Maybe that is a tough one for us to learn also. Power and authority in the wrong hands creates bigger and larger problems than they were intended to solve. Mickey had enough knowledge to be dangerous. Even if he initially had good intentions, he lacked the skill and wisdom to control the power. What caused the problem? Mickey wanted to be Yen Sid, the sorcerer. The lesson: There’s no problem until there’s a problem.
One manageable broom and bucket multiplied one thousand times into unmanageable, utter chaos. The power he released ended up overpowering him. The whole world would have been overcome by uncontrollable brooms and buckets if the one who knew what to do with the power didn’t save the day. The Sorcerer’s last statement is, “powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.” Not bad advice I would say.
Watching what is going on in our country and the world today, I am concerned. Have you noticed that the more human logic, reasoning, and the worship of man try to edge God’s wisdom out of our culture, education, government and nation, the more problems it creates? Have you noticed all those brooms and buckets out there? That’s not negative, it’s reality. We have heaps of generally well-intended Mickey Mouse’s trying to do what only the Master can do. They are Edging God Out rather than Exalting God Only.
Long ago the writer of Psalm Two prophetically foresaw this continuous loop saga. “Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples? Earth leaders push for position, Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks, God deniers saying: ‘Let’s get free of God.’” Oops…that way of thinking can create a lot of problems.
The Psalmist goes on to say: “So rebel-kings, use your heads; Upstart judges, learn your lesson; worship God in adoring embrace. If you make a run for God, you won’t regret it.” This wasn’t personal. It is loving wisdom for the creation by the loving Creator in action. Mind the brooms!
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.