Onward

(There may be some spoilers ahead, so be warned, but I tried not to reveal anything too important).

My wife and I watched Onward last night on Disney+ and loved it. Yes, it made us cry. It will probably make you cry, too, if you haven’t already watched it.

It’s a really cool movie. I’ve been thinking lately that there hasn’t been enough mainstream content that has the element of Lord of the Rings/Dungeons & Dragons-type wizards with staffs and cool spells. This movie helped fill that lack in an original way.

The movie also plays with the cool and thought-provoking idea that the world used to have a lot more magic in it, but with the advances humans have made in science and technology, “magic” has become somewhat “normal” to us. What I mean is that it’s perfectly normal for us to be able to speak to someone in an instant who literally lives on the other side of the globe. Besides that, think of everyday things like running water and gas stoves and lawn mowers. How amazing is it that we can “conjure” water or fire in an instant, and that we have a machine that we can drive around with blades that automatically spin and cut grass at a uniform length?

The more thought-provoking and fun aspect of this idea, though (at least to me), is to consider the type of “magic” — or miracles — that we read about in the scriptures, like the Bible. Moses created running water by tapping on a rock with a staff. Do we believe that actually happened? Elijah called down fireballs from heaven. Do we believe that? Jesus came back to life after being dead for three days. Did that really happen?

There’s a great scene in the movie where the main character essentially has to exercise faith — he has to believe in himself and in the magic — in order to perform a spell that will allow him to walk across a chasm on an invisible bridge. It’s a great metaphor for faith. The character had to believe in something that was not seen — that was true — in order to get where he wanted to go.

There’s a lot of talk in society these days about finding our passion and following our dreams. Essentially, we want to determine where we want to go. Our greatest desires are usually (or at least they should be) rather difficult to achieve. They lie on the other side of a great chasm, which can represent our fears and doubts. There is a bridge there that will take us straight across, but it’s invisible. Are you going to take a step out into the chasm? Or are you going to wait until you can see the bridge? Here’s the spoiler: the bridge will never become visible.

There is magic — there are miracles — in the world today, but they aren’t visible to our natural eyes. They have to be seen with an eye of faith. Even if you saw Elijah call down fire from heaven, would you believe what you saw? Maybe you’d try to find some logical/scientific explanation, as we often do. Maybe you’d be able to come up with some sort of explanation. But would it really help you understand what you saw?

Some things just have to be taken on faith for the time being. We aren’t ready to understand them. If we accept that, then we can enjoy the wonder of them, and we can trust that we will understand them at a future time. Life’s a lot more fun that way. It’s a lot more fun when we allow some magic in.

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