Pixar’s twenty-third film, Soul (Disney+), offers glimpses into the afterlife and the nature of the soul, not as an academic presentation on metaphysics or theology, but to tell a story about life. Nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature Film, there’s no doubt that Soul is a fun, compelling film, beautifully scored and animated, and voiced by excellent talent (such as Jamie Foxx as Joe and Tina Fey as 22). Christian readers are sure to have had a few red flags raised, theologically speaking, leading to several questions. Joe is almost dead, but he can return to his body? The afterlife made a mistake? Souls exist before they are born? Humans can visit celestial realms via meditation? Does God exist or do anything in this fictional world? Parents may be especially alarmed, unsure of how to assess Soul, or not sure if their children should even be allowed to view it. In the end, Soul is about life and the wonderful possibilities and experiences it holds for each of us. There is more to life than achieving our dreams. And biblically Christians are to live our lives, glorifying God in what we do. Soul is not crafted to teach us the minutiae of eschatology, including what happens when we die. Instead, it focuses on the value of life and making the most of the time we have. Ultimately, Soul is a life-affirming story, celebrating the promise that life holds. For the Christian, made in God’s image, we have the potential for what we paradoxically may term ordinary greatness. Our lives may seem ordinary, but we are destined for royalty as children of God. Yes, this life can be heartbreaking and difficult, but it also holds so much more that is good and true and holy.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Robert Velarde about his online-exclusive article, “Has Pixar Lost Its Soul? :Assessing an Animated Journey to the Afterlife and Back”.
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