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If you know me, you know I love pop culture. I work hard to keep up with what movies, tv and books people love. And it’s not primarily because I love them (also if you know me, you know my tastes run significantly more weird – fantasy, sci-fi, horror).
No, it’s because by paying attention to what’s popular, we’re actually seeing what stories resonate the most with our culture. We’re learning what stories people experience and say, “Yeah, that’s me!” They’re the stories that tell our stories, the ones where we see ourselves reflected.
There wasn’t a bigger movie last year than Encanto. Disney’s latest animated triumph told the story of La Familia Madrigal and their magical abilities. Set to the music of Hamilton scribe Lin Manuel Miranda, Encanto’s songs had everyone tapping their toes and singing along, warning that we better not talk about Bruno.
But I want to suggest that it’s more than the catchy music that made Encanto such a hit. Because as much as we couldn’t quit humming the songs, I found we couldn’t quit talking about the characters either. It seems that we all saw ourselves in one of la familia. Maybe it was moody Pepa or strong Luisa. Juileta the servant or Camilo the prankster or Bruno (I know… we don’t talk about him!). Or poor overlooked Mirabelle.
What is it about these characters that resonates with us so much? Well, there’s a lot, but one thing my wife Amanda and I discussed after seeing the film was how well each of the characters embodied a model of spiritual transformation called the Enneagram.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means. We’ll get there. For now, I want to invite you to consider the possibility that the reason we enjoy this movie so much is because it offers us a picture of the possibility of spiritual transformation, one that we long for deep in our bones.