The little one continues to be fascinated with Sleeping Beauty, and it has now become a daily subject of conversation. What with all of the skipping of “the bad parts,” she has come to recognize that the story might be more coherent if she knew what she was missing. But she does not want to have to see it. So one of her favorite series of questions now is some variant on, “What bad happens in Sleeping Beauty?… And what else?… And what else about Maleficent [the evil fairy]?… What else does Maleficent do?… But why is she mean to her goblins?… But why…? But how…?”
It was in the midst of one of these Disney princess Q&A sessions that I revealed that Prince Phillip kills the dragon (and later that Maleficent is therefore dead, since the dragon was Maleficent.) “But why?” she asked. We were hovering on the precipice of her initiation into the myth of redemptive violence. But it is true, what Dr. Stanley Hauerwas (standing on the shoulders of Iris Murdoch) has said – that character formation in worship, in Christian community, means that we are not always making decisions, but instead do what comes naturally. And so it was that I answered, “Because Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather thought that it was the only way to save Aurora.” And my good girl predictably asked, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t think they were thinking very hard about it, because there were lots of other things they could have done – can you think of any?” And together we were able to think of a long list of options that did not involve killing anyone, which process was admittedly helped along by the fairies ability to use magic.
Guess those Disney movies are good for something, after all.