I grew up in the 1950s in Phoenix.
Like me, most of you baby boomers will remember the Disney movie “Fantasia” made in 1940. I had no idea what was going on in the movie other than it got boring halfway through . It was around the time the tutus-clad hippos started dancing.
However, I remember very well two of the eight compositions and the parts of the film that accompany them. I remember the scary ones, “A Night on Bald Mountain”, and especially our topic today, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is based on a poem written by German poet Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe in 1797. Later, French composer Paul Dukas wrote a musical score to Goethe’s poetry in 1897.
According to Wikipedia, the poem begins as an old wizard leaves his workshop, leaving his apprentice with tasks to perform. Tired of fetching water from the bucket, the apprentice enchants a broom to do its job – using magic it is not yet fully trained in.
Unfortunately, the ground is soon filled with water and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how to stop it.
The apprentice desperately splits the broom in half with an ax to stop the broom spinning out of control. Then each piece becomes a brand new broom, picks up a bucket and continues to fetch water, now at twice the speed. Brooms begin to multiply and chaos ensues. When all seems lost, the old wizard returns and quickly breaks the spell. The poem ends with the wizard’s statement that the master himself should call only powerful spirits.
In the Disney play, which retains the title “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, Mickey Mouse plays the apprentice, and the story closely follows Goethe’s original, except that the sorcerer (“Yen Sid”, or Disney spelled upside down) is stern and angry at his apprentice when he saves him. Fantasia popularized Goethe’s story to a global audience. The segment proved so popular that Disney repeated it in its original form in the “Fantasia 2000” sequel.
It was a hard lesson for Mickey to learn. This is perhaps a difficult lesson for us modern humans to learn. Power and authority in the wrong untrained and undisciplined hands create multiple endless and ever-growing problems beyond their ability to solve. Mickey had enough knowledge to be dangerous. But unfortunately, Mickey lacked the skill and wisdom to control a great power.
What caused the problem? Mickey wanted to be someone he wasn’t, Yen Sid, the wizard. He was tired of doing things the same way. Most people are like Mickey. They don’t know what they want, but it’s something different from them. The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation but false progress. The lesson: A bright eye indicates curiosity. A black eye, too!
A manageable, productive broom and bucket multiplied a thousand times and turned into total, unmanageable chaos. The power that Mickey unleashed ended up overpowering him. Brooms and buckets out of control would have overcome the whole world if he who knew what to do and had the wisdom and the power had not saved the day. So, the wizard’s last statement is: “The master himself should call only powerful spirits.” Not bad advice, I would say.
Looking at what is happening in our country and in the world today, I am worried. Have you noticed that the more human logic, reasoning and deification of man tries to eliminate the wisdom of God from our culture, our education, our government and our nation, the more problems it creates? Have you noticed that all those unmanageable brooms and buckets made by those so-called leaders of the Mickey genre multiply faster than a speedball?
It’s not negative. It is reality. We have loads of sometimes well-meaning Mickeys trying to do what only the master can do. Consciously or unconsciously, they push God away rather than exalt God alone. It’s called EGO Ego-driven activism means keeping your foot on the accelerator even when it’s time to hit the brake. Advice is rarely welcome, and those who need it most love it the least. However well-meaning, fallen human nature can never stop whatever trouble we humans can create.
Long ago, the author of Psalm 2 of the Bible prophetically foresaw this continuous looping saga. “Why this great noise, nations? Why the wicked plots, people? Earth leaders push for position, demagogues and delegates gather for summit talks, God deniers say, “Let’s get free from God.” ” Whoops ! This rhetoric and this way of life creates many problems; Mickey asks.
The Psalmist says, “So, rebellious kings, use your heads; upstart judges, learn your lesson; worship God in an adoring embrace. If you run for God, you won’t regret it.
This advice was not critical. This is loving advice to us humans from our loving creator. The problem with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
Another analogy to today’s issues is Humpty Dumpty, lying fragmented on the floor after falling from a wall. Have you ever wondered why all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together? Maybe it’s because they forgot to ask the king.