Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon:
Whilst watching The Jungle Book with my two year old daughter, the threat of Shere Khan the tiger loomed large.
All week I’ve explored key themes within the Disney film as it relates to following, contentment, trust, identity and belonging. Today, Shere Khan represents threat.
The constancy of threat in our lives is a very real challenge.
From accidents and illness, to national politics and global catastrophe – we are a threatened race.
The Jungle Book represents the pompous and the evil of the English character.
The Elephant is an English, old fashioned, pompous army colonel.
Shere Khan is the English, old fashioned evil villain.
And unbeknownst to Mowgli, Shere Khan is looking for him to devour him, since the tiger is frightened of Man and his ability to make fire.
Whilst it is unnatural to live with a permanent threat over one’s life; everyone does experience threat at several points.
Permanent threat does not lead to human flourishing.
But dealing with, and overcoming a momentary threat can be life enhancing.
Mowgli is a better, stronger person for challenging Shere Khan and coming through the challenge (with a little help from his animal friends)
In this way, over-protection of those we love, does not serve them well in the long run.
Mowgli is better equipped to face life’s harsh realities for having gone toe-to-claw with the Tiger.
Jordan Peterson writes, “It is far better to render people in your care competent than to over-protect them…Even if it were possible to permanently banish everything threatening and dangerous (and therefore challenging and interesting), that would mean another danger would emerge: that of permanent human infantilism and absolute uselessness.”
The Bible is, once again, more realistic and honest about these matters than we often think.
On the one hand, by dying on the Cross and rising from the grave, Jesus has defeated the powers of sin and death that threaten humanity.
On the other hand, while we live in the world with hope and trust, the Bible talks about wearing the armour of God, so that we may withstand threat and challenge, and endure them – in God’s strength.
Listen to how the Apostle Paul names the armour that protects those who would do so: we need, truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God.
The threat of a Shere Khan may prowl throughout the film of our lives, but he really is a defeated enemy.