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Lessons from the Lego Movie

Warner Bros

Lilia Draime - published on 03/20/14

If seeing it isn't high on your priority list, that needs to change right away.

Almost as soon as he stepped out of the theater, my brother, a successful investment banker, called me to say that if seeing The Lego Movie was not at the top of my to-do list, then I needed to rethink my priorities.  

More than three weeks later, I finally saw the movie with my sister for her eighteenth birthday.  It was absolutely amazing.  Everything from the cinematography to the social commentary to the allusions to Lego sets we had as kids was incredible. The Lego Movie is the movie I have been waiting for quite literally for my entire life.

One of the most poignant themes of the movie is finding humanity through childlike innocence and innovation.  We see this in President Business’ totalitarian and consumerist regime that suppresses the creative and genuine Master Builders, and in Will Ferrell’s change of heart.  The very concept of the movie is exemplary of this theme, as evidenced in the scenery, animation, and inclusion of harmful household objects (Krazy Glue, golf balls, and Band-Aids, all of which found their way into my family’s Lego bins).

I admit I’ve been thinking about The Lego Movie quite a bit, but returning to campus after spring break this week inspired a revelation: College students tend to have a misguided love of being kids.

There are plenty of opportunities on a college campus to act childish, but a disproportionately low number of chances to be childlike.  That is, our generation tends to run from responsibility and consequences, but fails to seek out childlike innocence and boundless imagination.  For example, our generation will flock to campus auditoriums for screenings of Disney movies, but afterward, we go out to bars and parties where we hear of—or experience ourselves—binge drinking, the hookup culture, drug abuse, and sexual assault.  In recklessly grasping for the nostalgia of childhood and adult autonomy, we end up living what Pope Francis called a “throwaway culture.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux models the way in which we can foster a childlike worldview while also maintaining adult maturity.  Through “the little way of spiritual childhood,” and her devotion to the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Thérèse understood both her own place as a child of God, and the love and innocence of the Child Jesus.  The way in which she wrote about her encounters with the Lord shows that she had great capacity for imagination and creation, as well as a profound maturity and receptivity.  

We must accept that we are, at our core, children of God.  Innocence and experience are not mutually exclusive, and we should internalize the lessons of finding humanity through creation as espoused by The Lego Movie, while also adopting Thérèse’s example of simple prayer, desire to find God in the ordinary, and balancing childlike innocence with spiritual and intellectual maturity.  If we can embody this kind of mature authenticity and childlike simplicity as we confront adulthood, then everything, to quote The Lego Movie, can be awesome.

Lilia Draimeis a junior at a Catholic university in the United States. Her biweekly column addresses issues that impact young students struggling to live their faith on college and university campuses, whether those institutions be Catholic or not.

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