Thursday, April 24, 2014

A perfect metaphor


I recently looked up my favorite scene from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder) on YouTube.

See it here:
So shines a good deed in a weary world...

After watching it, and getting a little choked up as I did during my first viewing in 1971, I was struck with a surprising observation.

I'm not sure if the original writer of the book or the director of the movie intended this, but the scene is a perfect spiritual metaphor. I'm not speaking about the rest of the movie, but just the scene in question, viewed perhaps out of context. Nevertheless, here is my take on it:

Willy Wonka = God.

Mr. Slugworth (Mr. Wilkinson) = Satan.

Grandpa Joe = human adults who have little or non-existent faith.

Charlie = human adults who maintain a childlike faith in God.

Lifetime supply of chocolate = Heaven.

The contract (rules) = the tacit understanding between God and human beings, as related in print by the Bible.

The Chocolate Factory tour = life on Earth as we know and live it.

Charlie's "good deed in a weary world" = turning the other cheek, or doing the right thing despite adverse circumstance.


So many details fit the metaphor:

Grandpa Joe asking about the "lifetime supply of chocolate":
Human beings often still expect help and rewards from God, even when they have no genuine interest in obeying Him.

Willy Wonka being "extraordinarily busy":
While I have no clue about the realm of God, I'd say all the things He is credited with and responsible for would probably make Him very busy.

Grandpa Joe claiming ignorance of the "rules":
Indignation is often a response to the very idea that God could have rules we are meant to live by. In practical, real-life terms, human beings don't need the Bible or any other holy book to understand the universal concept that there are consequences for actions, and to possess the natural instinct that there is more to life than is perceived by the five senses.

Grandpa Joe calling Wonka several inaccurate names (crook, cheat, swindler, inhuman monster):
These are just a few of the things God is accused of daily by people who are angry at Him for whatever reason they believe is justified, probably for as long as humans have lived on Earth.

Willy Wonka's anger when Grandpa Joe questions his moral character:
The righteous anger of a God who has given much and is tired of constant disappointment by His most beloved creations, human beings. The legal gibberish that Wonka spouts from the contract is a good analogy of how so many humans view the contents of the Bible as arcane and unintelligible. The truth (as witnessed by people who deliberately take the time to consider the biblical texts) is that it's only gibberish if you haven't expended the effort to understand it. Also notice that while Wonka is yelling, he directs virtually all of it at Grandpa Joe, not Charlie, even though Grandpa Joe attempts to include Charlie in his doubt by saying, "We didn't see any rules, did we Charlie?"

Wonka repeating the phrase "good day" despite being very angry:
During Wonka's tirade, he never once resorts to name calling or accusations regarding the character of Grandpa Joe or Charlie; he simply states the facts about how they broke the rules. My perception of God, correct or not, is that He doesn't make arbitrary decisions, but has a logical reason for all of them. The Bible states that God is aware of even minute details like how many hairs we have on our heads, and that not even a sparrow falls to the ground with His knowing about it. So God's anger is probably not based on whimsy or bad moods, but is prompted by the direct and constant disobedience of human beings for millennia.

The natural inclination of Grandpa Joe to figuratively say "screw you" to Wonka by selling the gobstopper to Slugworth:
Human beings often rebel against God for a variety of reasons, due to experiences or ideas that have led them to believe trusting God is the activity of a fool. That's the easy, wide path; it is written that "narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Charlie not rebelling against Wonka, despite subversive influence from a respected figure:
A demonstration of genuine faith in God, which is often venomously characterized as being a ridiculous fantasy of persons emotionally unstable and intellectually challenged.

Wonka's unbridled glee at Charlie's "good deed in a weary world":
God's happiness when human beings do the right thing is well documented in the Bible. Wonka lovingly refers to Charlie as "my boy;" it might as well have been "my child," or "good and faithful servant." The Bible indicates that God wants us to succeed, and implies that the whole realm of existence is somehow set up to give us the opportunity to do so. Wonka exclaims, "You did it! You did it! I knew you would! I just knew you would!" This is the behavior of someone who wants someone to succeed, not of someone who would rather be angry or vindictive. Wonka even asks Charlie for forgiveness for "putting [Charlie] through this." Wonka also says, "I had to test you Charlie; and you passed the test!" I'm not the first person who has perceived all of existence as an elaborate stage by which God can vet the character of beings with free will.

Slugworth being painted publicly as a dastardly enemy of Wonka, but turning out to be an employee of Wonka instead:
Satan does the work of God in the Old Testament by tempting humans, then in the New Testament he seems to have gone rogue. There's not enough information to correctly solve that apparent transformation at present. Regardless, the Bible indicates Satan is created by God, and as such is not equal to Him. Our perception of their true relationship is ignorant at best.