The Jungle Book

The Gospel According to Disney – The Jungle Book

One of my all time favourite Disney films is ‘The Jungle Book’ with the wonderful characters of Baloo, King Louie, Colonel Hathi and of course Mowgli. The story is of an orphan boy who is found and raised by wolves. Once he comes of age he receives further tuition from Baloo who wants him to grow up to be a bear and Bagheera who wants to take him to the man village where he can grow up among his own kind. Along the way, we meet King Louie who though an Orangutan wants to become like a man knowing the secret of fire.

The story is really about nature versus nurture. Will the secret of fire ever make King Louie anything other than an Orangutan? Can Mowgli, raised by wolves, taught the bear necessities of life by Baloo, ever be anything other than a man? The answer is given at the end of the film when Mowgli, after all his determination to be like Baloo, suddenly sees a girl. Without a moment’s thought his natural instincts take over and he is drawn to the ‘man’ village where he will eventually settle down.

When I was a teenager, I felt a bit like Mowgli. There were so many influences around me pulling me this way and that. I didn’t know who I really was and I found myself being tempted by others to experiment with alcohol and such like. The pull was very strong because I looked up to such people and in some cases wanted to be like them. But when I got to university I found people who talked about Jesus – and the pull was altogether different. It felt like I had found who I was meant to be. They say that when you find the one you love you will know. That is what happened to me – the others things didn’t matter anymore. Like Mowgli I found my true home.

When we began this series I spoke on the Lion King and Mufasi saying to Simba ‘You are more than what you have become.’ In a similar way, the lesson of the Jungle Book is to realise who you really are inside and not to listen to the messages put out by the media. Understand that you are precious in God’s sight, unique, cherished and chosen. Live up to your calling and don’t settle for anything less.

John Harries (Chaplain)

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB