Monday, December 22, 2014

Between Books - Faith and the Magic Kingdom

I have often said that for me one of the most spiritual places in the world is a Disney theme park.  I know that it sounds silly between the crowds and the expense.  But for me and my family it is truly one of the few places in the world where my mind and soul find rest.  Now I know that I am not the only one finding spiritual lessons in theme parks.

Faith and the Magic Kingdom by Randy Crane connects Disneyland to lessons in Christian living.  Crane walks his readers through a tour of the park from front to back and through each land, writing on the history or theming of attractions, shops and other park elements.  He provides 2 to 6 pages at each stop giving both history and a connection to the Bible.  Overall, Crane gives the park a thorough walk-through visiting every land and every major location, though not all shops.  Wait, Crane totally missed churro carts and worse of all the Tiki Juice Bar.  In his over 100 plus entries along with Disney history, Crane makes a connection to Christian life and the Bible.

I have actually read a fair number of devotional books in my day.  And I would say Faith in the Magic Kingdom stands up well in that market.  Like most devotional books it attempts to link a story with a lesson from Christian life.  Crane's lessons include Christian salvation, living in community, what does Christian freedom mean, and integrity.  Though this list is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are 100 plus entries and the lessons do not generally overlap.  The key to me with a devotional is not the lesson but the hook.  Can the author's point of view draw you in, especially since the devotional market is quite crowded and the majority of big name Christian authors have a devotional title.  As a Disney fan Crane's hook of Disneyland worked well for me.  And I think that Christians who love Disneyland and use devotional reading to deepen their faith will enjoy this title.  And a Christian believer who has a fan who is a Disney fan with faith-based questions could look at this book as a resource. 

Crane does admit that some of his Disneyland to faith connections are not as strong as others.  Though I found his writing to be clear and well thought out.  I personally read it at a time that was somewhat a crisis event in the Between Family.  And his words generally helped uplift my spirit during some worrisome moments.

But I will also say I read Faith and the Magic Kingdom mostly wrong.  During the crisis event I would read an entry and then mull it over as the events of the day also crashed against my mind and what I had read.  In short I thought about my reading for a small percentage of the book.  But the majority I blasted through because I needed to get a review ready and I needed to make it to the end.  This title is really not meant for that type of full-speed reading.  Most will want to take one entry at a time, perhaps one a day, and contemplate the text.  Those who journal would likely find material to add to their meditative log.  But when one is charging through the reading, if they are like me, the reader will likely take notice of the Disney facts while not really mulling over the spiritual content.

I was concerned that Crane's Disney facts would be light or too generic.  Overall his facts rely in his vast experience within the park.  And they are chosen to help support the spiritual theme of the entry.  A stand out entry for me provided background on Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, which I do not believe I have ever stumbled on before.  So even for the most read Disney fans there are likely new gems in the text.    

With a Kindle price of around $9, Faith and the Magic Kingdom is competitively priced in the devotional space.  Likewise it also is priced fairly for a guide book.  But the advantage that it has over devotionals with much bigger named authors is the ability to borrow the title through the Kindle Unlimited program.  I think the question of print or Kindle version comes down to how one prefers to use a devotional, especially considering note taking.

I do know that it sounds silly, but my spiritual life always feels fresher after I have visited a Disney theme park.  And Faith and the Magic Kingdom shows me that I am not the only stranger in a strange land with this experiences.  Therefore I am glad to see a writer connect spiritual lessons to my favorite place on Earth especially as I read during the holiday season.  I think my real big question is when does the volume on Disney California Adventure get released? And how will he work the Tiki Juice Bar into that volume?

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