Assertive and free-spirited, the new Disney heroine models today's feminist ideal. Pocahontas follows her dreams and submits to no one. Brave and athletic, she scales mountains, climbs trees, and steers a canoe better than a man. Like "women who run with wolves," she does what she wants--and does it well.
"What is my path?" she asks the wise old spirit of Grandmother Willow, a magical tree in the forest. "How am I ever going to find it?"
"Listen..." says her enchanted counselor. "All around you are spirits, child. They live in the earth, the water, the sky. If you listen, they will guide you."
The Indian maiden believes. Why shouldn't she? Not only does the tree spirit's advice fit the context of Disney's fictionalized history, it also fits today's cultural shift toward a global spirituality, a seductive blend of all the world's religions. Few realize that when children learn to see the world through a pantheistic lens, our Christian words take on a new universalist meaning.
The villains in Disney's new fantasy are the greedy white males who have come to exploit the land and steal its gold. Even the best of them, handsome John Smith, is made to look foolish compared to the nature-wise woman he loves. Their exchange of wisdom flows one way only: from Indian to European. So when Smith unwittingly offers to build an English civilization on Indian lands, Pocahontas shows her disgust, then teaches him a lesson on pagan oneness. Her message now echoes in the hearts of children everywhere through the hit song "The Colors of the Wind", which keeps reminding them that mountains, trees... everything is filled with spiritual life and linked in a never-ending circle.
It all makes sense when you watch the movie. With subtle mastery, its makers highlight the anti-Western message and stir predictable indignation: How can the crude British sailors, so ignorant of the spiritual things, call natives "heathen"? Those Christian intruders are the real savages who batter the earth and rob its friends.
In contrast, the Indians seem flawless. They care for the land. They commune with its spirits. They love each other. Kekata, the tribal shaman or medicine man provides spiritual protection and guidance. The ghostly images in the smoke from his magic fire warn the tribe to shun the newcomers who "prowl the earth like ravenous wolves." The only exception is John Smith who learned to see life and nature from Pocahonta's perspective. In the end, he risks his life to stop the war.
In line with today's quest for gender "equity", the deep spiritual insights come from women. As multicultural lessons tell us: patriarchy brings war and oppression; matriarchy brings wisdom and peace -- especially if the female heroines are non-Western. It doesn't matter if the source of matriarchal wisdom comes from humans, ancestral spirits, or nature spirits. So when chief Powhatan feels the spirit of Pocahontas dead mother guiding him, he heeds her lofty wisdom: "...there will be no more killing. Let us be guided instead to a place of peace."
The true story about Pocahontas would have undermined Disney's politically correct message. It tells about a girl between 10 and 14 years old, who helped the settlers of the Jamestown colony. They, in turn, shared their Christian faith with her. Pocahontas apparently accepted Christ and was baptized. After she married John Rolfe, the two traveled to England where she was "received at the court." On the return trip, the brave 22-year-old died of smallpox.
Pocahontas' tribe belonged to the Algonkin family, a nation at war long before European settlers came. Dr. Clark Wissler, an anthropologist recognized as a world authority on the American Indian, tells how the "warlike" Iroquois invaded Algonkin country. Like other nations throughout history--Greek, Aztec, English, etc.--they expanded into new territories. "The Algonkin were not merely at war with Iroquois but often with each other. There were about a hundred Algonkin tribes... In revenge for past injuries, a few members of one tribe would stealthily approach the camp of a hostile tribe, take a scalp or two and escape.... [T]he highest honors went to the man who was the most daring and ruthless in such raids...."
Not unique to Indians, brutality has characterized all cultures inspired by occult powers--Norse, Aztec, Babylonian, Nazi.... Disney simply twisted the fact. Remember, history documents Pocahontas' conversion to Christianity, not Smith's conversion to pantheism.
But do the facts really matter? After all, this is only a Disney movie!
Columnist Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has an insightful response: "The curriculum, the movie screen, the art gallery... are all ideological battlefields -- and in most of these institutions, only one side is battling. That is why they are winning.... Being factually wrong does not matter to those who are politically correct.... charges which turn out to be hoaxes do not bother them because these charges serve to raise consciousness....
To shift America's consciousness from a Judeo/Christian world view to a global/earth-centered perspective, Disney and other social engineers have invented new role models not tainted by an uncompromising reality. They know that rational arguments do less to change consciousness than an incessant flood of ideas and impressions. Advertisers wouldn't pay millions for minute-long televised exposure if it didn't help sell their product. Facts matters little compared to the perceived goodness and subjective feelings of the viewer.
Since Pocahontas majors in spectacular scenery, delightful animals, and feel good sentiments, its subtle seductions are difficult to resist. People ask, "Why shouldn't we all be one family? How can it be wrong to love and respect all religions? So much is good -- why focus on the bad?
The most seductive deceptions hide behind "good" ideals. God calls His people be in the world but not of the world, to be missionaries but not mission fields, to share His love without compromising His truth. That love must point the way to Christ, not conform His message to the world. Spirituality without the cross can only lead to disillusionment in the present life and separation from God for eternity. While this politically incorrect message may divide and disturb, we cannot change reality to fit popular beliefs. Pocahontas does just that.
Don't be discouraged. "Blessed are you," said Jesus, "when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven...."
To equip your family to recognize and resist the earth-centered spirituality that permeates movies, music, and public schools, read Under the Spell of Mother Earth, Your Child and the New Age, and A Wardrobe from the King by Berit Kjos. Available through Christian bookstores or order direct from Victor Books (800-323-9409)
1. Pantheism: all is god or god is in all. Usually found with polytheism: many gods or spirits.
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 18 (Chicago: William Benton, 1968), 85.
3. Clark Wissler, Indians of the United States (New York: Anchor Book, 1940), 70-71.
4. Thomas Sowell, "The right to infiltrate," Forbes (March 13, 1995); 74.
5. Christ's death on the cross to cleanse and free us from sin is the heart of the gospel. The Native American promise of unconditional entrance to heavenly bliss--taught as multicultural education--is deadly as well as deceptive.
6. Matthew 24:12, 5:11-12.