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..I was reading some animation tutorials...and had the most intriguing thought pop into my head.

In Toy Story (the first one) ... the biggest character arc is obviously undergone by Buzz Lightyear.

Buzz Lightyear gets introduced to the toys and believes himself to be a fierce hero/warrior fighting the Evil Emperor Zurg.  (I CAN FLY!)  He is completely at peace with who he is, where he has come from and his mission in life.  He has ALL the answers to all the dubious questions posed to him.  In short, Buzz is at an obvious Stage 3.

Later on  the mounting evidence that the universe is he is not what he thinks it is and he is not this mighty galactic hero has reached its peak.  For the first time doubt starts to creep into his mind.  He sets himself up the ultimate test ...and has his faith/ world view forcibly ripped from him. (I can't fly and am ultimately meaningless.)  Buzz then very quickly moves into 4.  He is angry, bitter and near suicidal.  His life has no meaning, nor does anyone elses. To Buzz in Stage 4 there is simply no point to anything.  He has stared into the abyss.

Eventually after much help from the other toys Buzz finally pulls himself together to a more self accepting stage 5. ( Okay, So I can't fly but I can fall with STYLE.)
He is comfortable in his own skin and while one misses the cocksure Stage 3 Buzz, (and he might miss that as well)  this Buzz is more mature, has more depth and finds himself at peace with the universe and open to possibilities never previous considered.  He doesn't have to fight Evil Emperor Zurg...he just has to be the best toy he can be...and help all the other toys reach their potential as well.

The contrast between Buzz at 3 and Buzz at 5 is even more apparently in Toy Story 2 when our Stage 5 Buzz meets a newly awakened Stage 3 Buzz.
Rather than being sympathetic or understanding where Buzz 3 is at...Buzz 5 is irritated, dismissive and can't stand Buzz 3's company.  Kind of like people who have moved beyond 3 and can't stand people at that stage thinking them naive.  (One of my favorite notes from Stages of Faith...it doesn't matter what stage somebody is at, they think THEY are in the right one and everyone else is wrong.)  Just look at the two Buzzes and their interaction.

Obviously I am highly amused thinking about this.  I don't think John Lasseter has read Stages of Faith (who knows, he might have) but talk about a pretty nifty distillation of a process/journey that I think people inherently understand.

What do you think, sirs?


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
Have you read the Tao of Pooh?
Sep. 18th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
That's funny. That's what I thought of too after this post.
My brother recommended it to me, but I only skimmed it.
Sep. 17th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
I was a little confused at first, confusing John Lasseter of Pixar with Elder John R. Lasater, formerly of the Seventy.

I met Elder Lasater on my mission, and do not have fond memories of him - but I digress.

I would need to know more about Stages of Faith than I do to comment intelligently (although that won't stop me from commenting), but what you are saying makes sense. I know I've moved through several stages myself.
Sep. 18th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC)
Quite a lovely dissection of the arc. Nice to see someone know about Fowler :-)
Sep. 18th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
Oh man, I love Stages of Faith. I'll pester people constantly talking about stage theory.
I myself identify myself in Stage 4...with a foot left in 3...and a hand hold in 5 desperately trying to pull myself more firmly into a 5. I have no real desire to be a 6. ;)
Sep. 18th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Then you are a 5, if perhaps a "young" 5. I don't think you can be partly in the next stage. Follow my logic: 3 = faith, 4 = doubt, 5 = someone seeing the value of both. 5 accepts the values of 3 while acknowledging the irony of 4, and performs a balancing act between faith and doubt, and having added faith in their ability to parse the world to faith in their beliefs.
Sep. 18th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
Right now I think I sadly put myself more into Stage 4. The best thing about 5 is knowing it is out there and attainable.

Most of the people I've talked to that know about stage theory and apply it to themselves say that stage 4 takes a while to get through (most of them tell me it's at least a 10 year proces.)

I asked them how they got through it without majorly screwing up their lives and they just laughed at me and told me it was pretty much impossible. ;)

Something else I found interesting is reading that during times of great trauma and stress people generally "slip a level" back to more familiar comforting territory.

I also find it interesting seeing really, no matter how stalwart a 3...how QUICKLY they can find themselves in stage 4... and how completely traumatizing it is.
Sep. 18th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
Well, when I think about, stage 4 took me about 12 years, so I can see your argument. I started when I was 16, and it was exactly as you describe - like walking through a door, suddenly the "light" dawned and I was a betrayed, militant atheist. (Richard Dawkins had nothing on me, it was sad. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even believe in sin, which as Reinhold Niebuhr pointed out is the only empirically verifiable Christian dogma ;-)

Then in my twenties three things happened:

I changed my major to physics and saw that it was not only possible, it was very probably necessary for there to be Something observing us into existence.

I went into therapy and realized my atheism was not disbelief in God but anger at my father.

And God started talking to me. Not voices in my head, but little things: the very kind and intelligent college student Christians who came to my door, the therapist who set aside her "therapist" hat for an hour to talk about faith, seeing an old priest from my childhood, certain dreams - all these things suddenly began to seem like an old lover wooing me back. And somewhere around 28 I was a Christian again, just as joyfully as in my childhood, but clearer-headed and much more tolerant.

One of my favorite quotes, that helped me through this period, you might like. It's from A Man for All Seasons: "God made the angels to show him splendor...but man he made to serve him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 19th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
What's interesting is he talks about people that are not raised with specific faiths or even atheistic...and for that person what would be somebody else's "Level 4"...where their faith is deconstructed... is that person's level 3.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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