December 17, 2015 / MaryKate Morse

Olaf, Culture, and Holiness

Younger leaders…I need your perspective….

As you get older it’s harder and harder to discern between a culture’s normal process of updating norms and values and the idealized values and norms of the past. So, I sometimes ask my adult kids what they think about some music, movie, or event, or person in the news. Their insights are helpful to me.

I saw something on TV, and I can’t get it out of my mind. So I thought, perhaps I should ask for the perspective of the emerging generation of Christian leaders. On some levels this is a no brainer, but on others it seems to me insidiously complex. I know it’s the ‘world,’ but it’s also the world we live in and try to influence.

Here is what I saw. One evening I was flipping channels and stopped on a sitcom I hadn’t seen before (confession, I hardly ever watch sitcoms, except Mash, so you see my point about perhaps being stuck in the past). I stopped because it had an African-American family and a White family working together to provide the show-stopper birthday party for one of their children. When I dropped in on the show, the party was not going well. Neighbors were not impressed; as if that’s really the point of a child’s birthday party, but I digress. So the African-American father had an idea to punch up the party experience. He went upstairs and came down dressed as Olaf, the friendly and funny snowman in Frozen, with white tights and an Olaf body costume.

The little children, who looked like they were around 4-6 years of age, were thrilled and gathered around on the floor to hear Olaf sing. Olaf began singing and dancing. Then in a moment of exuberance his tights split open in the crotch right at eye-level for the kids. Now the ‘censors’ blurred out the area for us viewers but, of course, in the spirit of the show, it wasn’t blurred out for the kids. It was left to the viewers’ imagination whether he had on underwear or not. The children started screaming and running around. The parents were horrified and took their kids and left.

I couldn’t believe I just saw that on national television. I couldn’t believe the canned laughter in the background as the incident happened. I couldn’t believe that anyone would find this funny or fit for viewing. Is this depraved or am I over-reacting? Is this a silly incident or an indication of our culture’s dark confusion? That’s what I really want to know. Do you 20-30 year olds find this disturbing, and if so why and if not, why not?

What does holiness look like in 21st Century North America? Share on X

Then this goes to my next set of questions. What does holiness look like in 21st Century North America? I know what it looked like in the Old Testament. In the New Testament I understand Jesus’ call to a different kind of holiness, a holiness radically imbedded in an embodied relationship with Jesus Christ. I understand that one of the primary ways the Holy Spirit serves us is to guide us into being a holy people, a kingdom of priests, set apart as lights on the hill for the world.

So how do we parse what holiness looks like today, for us as the ‘lights’? We’re so far away from the old adage, “I don’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go with women who do.” But what do we say? And I’m not talking about what we’re not, but what we are? Who do we strive to be and how is that actualized into behaviors that set us apart, but not against culture? I’m going to wait to hear from you, and then after more prayer and thinking I’ll post my thoughts.

Blessings on your Advent journeys, MK