fbpx
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Trusting Our Flaws

While watching Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” I felt I had been transported to the study halls of my yeshiva — and not in a good way.

Until a week ago, “A Wrinkle in Time” was an award-winning fantasy novel beloved by children, teens and adults for more than half a century. But now, it’s a big-budget flop that tantalizes and teases but ultimately fails to move or inspire.

The movie generally sticks to the novel’s storyline about Meg, a brilliant but troubled young girl whose scientist father goes missing. With the help of omniscient ancient witches, played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey, Meg learns how to “tesser” — find the wrinkles in the universe to travel through space and find her father. The witches tell Meg that her father discovered “tessering” and had been on a space journey when he was trapped by the all-encompassing dark force of evil called The IT. They accompany Meg on her journey to defeat The IT’s darkness with the light of love.

The broad strokes of the story are the same in the book and the film. However, the film does not practice what it preaches. It is afraid to embrace itself.

The lesson of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is that we are most powerful when we accept that our flaws are what make us unique.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote “A Wrinkle in Time” in the same spirit C.S. Lewis wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia” series: A fable with modern, liberal Christian values. In the novel, Christianity is part of the story. In the movie, it does not exist.

The novel often explains the supernatural with fantasy physics, giving it a very academic and science-y feel. The witches are considered angels of light and are quirkier in the book than in the movie. Their conversations are more thought-provoking and frequently riff on philosophy and religion in ways that challenge the readers.

Meg is darker and stranger in the book than in the movie and her father is more flawed and less forgivable in the book.

I understand that Disney stripped the movie of its strong, Christian overtones and made its difficult themes more palatable for fear of alienating audiences. Instead, it decided to tell the story with a “universalist” message.

This form of insular thinking also plays out in our religion. The Orthodox Jewish community also is afraid of the outside world. Unnecessary interactions with outsiders often are discouraged, for fear a yeshiva student might bolt if they see too much of the outside world.

The lesson of “A Wrinkle in Time” is that we are most powerful when we accept that our flaws are what make us unique. Erasing our flaws is not the goal. Struggling with our flaws and using our personalities to make a difference in the world is the goal.

“A Wrinkle in Time” succumbed to The IT of strict conformity and groupthink. It is not just a beautiful story being held back by its flaws. The challenging non-universalist “flaws” make it special. They replaced its imperfections with perfect costumes and impeccable set design because they thought we couldn’t handle it. That is why it flopped.

Religion and films like “A Wrinkle in Time” should embrace their limitations and trust their audiences. We can handle it.


Eli Fink is a rabbi, writer and managing supervisor at the Jewish Journal.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

What Does Leading With Heart Look Like in Modern Life?

This Rosh Hashanah, consider how you can cultivate the four pillars of heart-centered leadership.

A Moment in Time: 5781 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Dear all, As we approach the Jewish New Year of 5781, I think we can safely say that 5780 came with incredible challenges. I can’t...

Remembering the Life and Work of the Woman who Championed Women’s Rights: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

She died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

3 Holocaust Monuments Vandalized With Swastikas in Ukraine and Russia

Police are investigating the instances of vandalism.

Letters: 9/11 Commemoration, Spots and Activism, UAE

9/11 Commemoration “Grow, grow, grow,” we imagine angels whispering to every blade of grass. How much more so to every human soul. That kind of...

Kosovo to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

“As a victim of genocidal actions & ethnic cleansing, [Kosovo] understands too well the weight of discrimination & hate.”

86 Jewish Groups Contest Leila Khaled’s SFSU Speaking Event

The groups sent a letter to the SFSU president asking if Khaled is legitimately protected under academic freedom.

Culture

‘A Wilderness of Error’ Revisits Infamous Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case

As recounted in journalist Joe McGinniss’ 1983 book and the subsequent miniseries “Fatal Vision,” MacDonald was convicted of the murders, but was he guilty?

‘The Get’ to Tell Story of Notorious Chasidic Rabbi

The show is based off a GQ article.

Novel’s Russian Jews Find Rough Going in Israel

The setting of “Jerusalem as a Second Language,” a new novel by Rochelle Distelheim (Aubade Publishing), harks back to a remarkable moment in history.

Personalizing Home Ritual With ‘HighHolidaysAtHome’

The team has developed guides and webinars. They're providing steps to invoke various aspects of the holidays as well as family memories. 

Apples of Hope for Rosh Hashanah

As a new year begins, we remember the hard times of recent months but also look forward to the future with a promise of new beginnings.

Latest Articles
Latest

What Does Leading With Heart Look Like in Modern Life?

This Rosh Hashanah, consider how you can cultivate the four pillars of heart-centered leadership.

A Moment in Time: 5781 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Dear all, As we approach the Jewish New Year of 5781, I think we can safely say that 5780 came with incredible challenges. I can’t...

Remembering the Life and Work of the Woman who Championed Women’s Rights: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

She died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Hollywood

‘Dirty Dancing’ Sequel Starring Jennifer Grey Announced

It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

Podcasts

A Rosh HaSchitt’s Creek Sameach to You!

How long has this pandemic been? This week we're giving a big Shofar Wave to 5780 as it exits the building, reviewing some Jewy...

Pandemic Times Episode 88: Words of Light for Rosh Hashanah

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Excerpts of inspiring messages from community leaders. How do we manage our lives during the coronavirus crisis? How...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x