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Creation, Redemption & Moana

Despite a pretty average story line, there is a lot to love about Disney’s new film Moana. It has a really beautiful and detailed portrayal of a culture not often seen in film, stunning animations of water, a story about a young woman which doesn’t involve romance, great songs by Jaimee from Flight of the Conchords and Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights) and some interesting observations about life in the world and how people relate to the spiritual. What I found particularly fascinating was the story line which revolved around a creation, fall and redemption arc. This provided the basis of Moana’s quest and I think it says something deeper about humanity’s quest to understand our identity in creation and the solution to the pain we see in the world.

Moana lives in a world which was created by a goddess Te Fiti, however that world has been disrupted by a character who wanted to be god, so that the people didn’t have to rely on the creator. This storyline is rather familiar to those of us who know some Biblical Theology. Our Creator God, created a good world, but we wanted to be like him, and in doing so, broke our world.

What I find really interesting about Moana’s presentation of a creation, fall, redemption story is that what matters in the story is not really how the world was created. We are not given any details of how Te Fiti creates the world, that isn’t important, what is important is that the world is broken and needs to be fixed. The Biblical narrative of creation tells us likewise of a created world which is broken and needs to be fixed, the details of how it was created is not so important as why it was, and what that means for the relationship between God and humanity.

We know that the creation account when it was written stood in stark contrast to the false creation myths which were prevalent at the time. The varied Babylonian creation myths asserted that the world was created in chaos, that it had always existed, they encouraged the hearer to worship the Sun, Moon and Stars and some suggested that the gods created humans to do his work. But Genesis tells us that God was before the world, he created the universe with a purpose and for his glory and that God rests with humanity rather than rests because of humanity[1].

Moana is about a fractured relationship between a god and humanity that is the result of human/demi-god pride. In the film, Moana’s quest is to restore the broken relationship, and for us we know that in Christ’s life death and resurrection we find complete restoration with the true God of the entire universe (which has the added bonus of not being a fictional story, but an eternal truth). Our deepest longing is to be restored into a right relationship with the God who made us, this is what will help us to understand who we are, where we come from and our purpose in this world. The identity that we have from the creation story, helps us to understand the brokenness of the world as well as what it means to be restored to God and his universe in Christ. People who will one day live in his new creation, when every restoration will have reached its completion.

The stunning visual imagery of Moana keeps focussing the audience’s attention on the beauty of the creation, and how the problems encountered (rotten coconuts, the absence of fish to eat, devastating storms) are not the creator’s intent. We know that the brokenness that we encounter in this world is not how God intended it, he made us to live fruitfully from the earth, not at odds with it. As people who feel the pain of Earth, particularly as we see and feel the effects of Climate Change, let us remember that these are manifestations of the groans of creation as it waits for restoration[2]. But, let us also be reminded that we have a responsibility to care for our creation, not to live at odds with it. Making sustainable decisions are often more effort or involve sacrifice, but, they also care for the world that God has given us, and reflect our identity as people of the new creation.


Fiona is a follower of Jesus by identity and by trade a teacher of Science. She studied at Fuller Theological Seminary in California.


[1] John Lennox, Seven Days that Divide the World, Appendix A

[2] Romans 8:19-23

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