Monday, March 19, 2012

Look At Us! A Beast to Beauty Phenomeon

by Susanne Dietze

It's probably just me, but "Beauty and the Beast" seems to be everywhere I look right now.
I recently finished Melanie Dickerson's inspirational take on the fairy tale, The Merchant's Daughter (available from Zondervan Press). Apparently, both the ABC and CW networks have  filmed "Beauty and the Beast" pilots for next season (one a fairy tale, one a remake of the 1980's Linda Hamilton show). I watch "Once Upon a Time," which blatantly harkened to the Disney movie in a recent episode: a young, yellow-gowned gal named Belle is forced to serve a mysterious rose-owning beast of a guy--in this case, Rumpelstiltskin--and finds something in him to love.

"...and her nose stuck in a book..."
I loved it, of course. "Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite fairy tale--always has been--and it's also my favorite Disney movie. I even plunked down major moola to watch it again in 3-D when that came out in theaters a few weeks ago. I could argue it was for research, since one of my kids is in the school production this spring. (But we own the DVD, so that argument is weak. Moving on.)

A girl like me could relate to Belle...not the beauty part, but the "nose stuck in a book, with a dreamy far-off look" part. I like how Belle sacrifices herself for her papa, how she values truth and love, and how she isn't overly concerned with others' expectations of how she should be.

But there's more. "Beauty and the Beast" has some themes to it which could be interpreted through a Christian lens, IMHO. Because at its heart, it's about a boy who is selfish and unkind, a boy whose arrogant act--his sin--has far-reaching effect. He, his household, his home, and his land are utterly cursed because of his poor choice. And although Belle inspires him to become better than who he is, he can't alter the curse by himself. Something beyond himself is required.

Sort of like us. Sin breaks us, affects our families, injures our environments. And we need a Savior to redeem us.

Not that Belle is like Jesus. Not at all--it's not Belle who breaks the spell. It's Love. I capitalized the "L" on purpose, because I see an eternal-type parallel here.

Okay, I guess I should say SPOILER ALERT before I go any further. If you haven't seen/read/etc any version of Beauty and the Beast, be warned that I'm going to spill the beans. With a youtube video, no less.

When the Beast learns to love and is loved in return, something beautiful happens. There's a total, complete, miraculous restoration: to him, but also to his servants, to his castle and lands.... Everything affected by the curse of Beast's sin is changed, made new, sparkling clean, healthy, and lovely.

When Beast realizes what's happened, he gathers his faithful servants--Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, and Cogsworth--in his embrace. With a look of utter joy and humility on his now-handsome face, he cries, "Look at us!"

(Here's a brief you tube clip which illustrates what I mean better than a still photo can. Go ahead, take a little vacation and enjoy. Or at least skip to the part where Beast hugs his servants.)

I can't help but wonder if this little transformation is a reminder of heaven, right there in Disney-fied glory. We'll be new creations, everything will be made right, and we'll become who we were meant to be all along.

I'm sure we can all think of people in our spheres who are broken, physically, emotionally, spiritually. In my mind, I see a brain-damaged child who hasn't been the same since the accident. I see a woman whose husband's adultery decimated her self-esteem as well as their children's security. I see a shame-filled child who can't meet anyone's eye. I also look in the mirror and grieve those things in myself which seem like they'll never heal this side of glory.

I know this analogy is faulty, but our brokenness was on my mind the last time I watched "Beauty and the Beast." Newly-human Beast cried, "Look at us!" and I instantly thought ahead to that great and glorious day when we are transformed by the glory of Jesus Christ, and I wondered if we will all take a moment to look at one another in wonder and cry the same.

"Look at us! Look at what the Lord has done for us!"

Healed, clean, treasured. Bent and broken no more. Reunited, restored, renewed.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:4-5

In some ways, this post isn't quite right for a "Current Events" day at the Inkwell. It's a "Future Event" post. But I hope in those places where you feel broken, grieved, and troubled, you're encouraged by the news: on the coming Great Day in Glory, all will be well and whole.

I'll be looking for you, but I warn you, I won't look quite the same as I do now. I'll look glorious. And so will you.

Do you struggle to keep an eternal perspective during day-to-day living?
Susanne Dietze has written love stories since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,


  1. Wonderful post Susie. I do think of being on the other side...a lot.

  2. Good morning, Deb. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks about heaven! What a blessing to have been given Hope with a capital H.

  3. The weekend before this past one, I told my middle child that we'd watch an age-inappropriate movie. His choice . . . with my approval. (I'm not that nutso.) After nixing Terminator and a couple others, I agreed to Titanic. But I made him promise to close his eyes when I told him because there was kissing and some boobage. He happily complied.

    After it was over, he remarked that he didn't know what the fuss was about. The only "enjoyable part was when the boat was sinking."

    The part of the movie that always tears me up is the end. When Rose dies and is reunited with her "groom." All things are made new.

    So I understand the eternal parallel to when Beast says, "Look at us!"

    Susie, you and Deb aren't the only ones who mull about Heaven. Well, not so much do I think about Heaven but about the New Heaven, the New Earth. Look at how glorious this earth is. I can't imagine how much more amazing Earth 2.0 version is.

    I was chatting with someone at church yesterday. He was telling about how he's going to be retiring in May and all the things he was going to do. Yet he also mentioned eternity. So I told him that lately I've been able to endure the oblahgations of this life by focusing on all the fun things I was goign to do in eternity.

    Plant a veggie garden with Jesus.

    Make pies with Jesus.

    Deliver with Jesus the veggies and pies to people.

    That's what I long for.

  4. Gina, I love the images of being with Jesus. I love knowing that even though He's involved in everything we do now, we'll be able to behold Him completely when we're in His presence.

    I know what you mean about Titanic (both the end scene and the hoopla part). Will you go see it again in theaters? I don't think I will. It's just too, for lack of a better word, sad for me. Every single heart-string gets tugged in that movie. And then I get a little overwhelmed. Just me.

  5. Susie,

    What a wonderful post and reminder of the hope of glory! I can't help but think of 1 John 3:2 "...But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is..." Not only will we be glorious, but we will see Jesus in all His glory! Thanks for the reminder.

  6. A beautiful post, Susie! Beauty and the Beast is my favorite of the traditionally animated Disney films. I saw it in the theater, then went to a special screening of the work-progress-version in Hollywood, and I saw the stage production twice (not on Broadway, but when it first came to Hollywood and featured the same main actors as Belle and the Beast). It really is a story of unselfish love and redemption.

    Whenever I think about heaven, I get overwhelmed. What will we do, how will we do it... will we all be with Jesus at the same time? I know I'm going to get there, but I can't comprehend the reality of it.

    About Once Upon A Time... have you noticed the longer it goes on, they are making more references to Disney versions of the tales? Last night's episode involving Snow White was the most obvious yet. Of course, Disney owns ABC, so the connection makes sense, and I find it great fun. Very interesting how they are adding layers and depth to the fairy tale characters.

    And on a completely unrelated note... less than a week until The Hunger Games!

  7. Great post, Susanne!

    I loved Beauty and the Beast, but I wanted the prince to be cuter when he was finally not a beast anymore. ;)

  8. Karl, thanks for stopping by and sharing the Scripture. What a powerful verse!

  9. Hey Jen, I saw the traveling/off-broadway stage production of BATB once too. LOVED it. The dance scene with Gaston in the pub was fabulous. And the costumes! My! :)

    I haven't seen last night's OUAT yet, but I'm very curious about poor Mary Margaret and her fingerprints and that box... tonight my questions will be answered! (Sort of, LOL) Spotting the Disney-tie ins are something of a party game at our house. The BATB episode had a rose, a Gaston, a chipped teacup, a yellow gown, etc. But the Beast wasn't nearly as lovable, in my opinion. :)

    I bought my Hunger Games tickets, Jen! Wish you were here to come along!

  10. DeAnna, I found the Beast to be a bit more appealing before he was human, too! Sweeter, somehow. LOL.

  11. That you, Susie. There are days it really helps to remember that our "beast-hood" is temporary. I can't imagine how depressing it would be to go through life thinking this is all there is.

    And DeAnna, it's nice to know I'm not the only shallow one!

  12. While the Disney version is my favorite, and IMHO is a perfect analogy of the incredible power of love in a marriage relationship, I have to share a funny...
    The TV version was popular during the time hubby and I were dating in high school. He looked alarmingly like the beast (hair, mostly) and when he would call my house, my dad would yell, "the beast is calling."
    : )

  13. Lol, Niki! Thanks for the laugh. Cute. ;-)

    Susie, your analogy is lovely - not faulty at all. It's beautiful. I'm glad you posted it today, under Current Events because I think this is something we should aspire to every day - so it's really current, no matter the day.

    I haven't seen last night's OUAT yet, either. I probably won't get to watch for a few more days, but I'm dying for the answer to MM's fingerprints, too. I'm sure the "lovely" mayor had something to do with both the prints and the missing wife.

  14. CJ, I love the idea of "temporary beast-hood." Too often I think I forget to view things in an eternal perspective.

    I'm so glad I don't have to go through the hardships of life without hope. I'd be a wreck.

  15. Niki, your beast story made me laugh! How does your husband feel about it now? ;) I didn't watch that Linda Hamilton show but I remember the beast had long, thick hair.

    Belle and Beast do show compassion for each other, don't they? They accommodate one another, bless one another, and sacrifice for the others' good. Sweet!

  16. Suzie, we need to have a OUAT discussion! I think MM's fingerprints got into the box in fairy tale land. We'll watch it in a bit--I love that show! Oh, that mayor. :)

    Who do you think the guy on the motorcycle is?

  17. Susie, I didn't think about her prints being from fairy tale land. You're right. I don't have a theory about motorcycle guy yet. I'll think on ot and get back to you. ;-)

  18. I look forward to the timelessness of heaven - I feel like I have spent much of my life like the March Hare, rushing and desperately afraid of being late. There will be no drive to accomplish or produce - like Mary, we can just be in His presence... how wonderful...


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