A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

My response to the movie, Saving Mr. Banks

I wrote in my daily journal the following words after seeing the movie.  Quote:

I saw the movie, Saving Mr. Banks.  It was a psychological study in the vein of the effect one’s childhood has on the personality of the adult.  As the great poet William Wordsworth wrote, the child is father of the man[1], and yes, it is a truism that we like to quote and we are the result of many experiences that cause permanent imprints on the spirit.  Only our own Creator God is able to break the old vessel down and recreate it in His own image using those very “broken” pieces to shape the new.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  I love the Lord in His majesty and His great Omnipotence whom I worship in spirit and in truth, but it is His Omnipresence that brings Him in when I open the door and His Omniscience who brings me the food that feeds my soul!   Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me!

End of entry Sun. Jan 12, 2014

Beginning of further comments related to short quote in the above from Wordsworth’s poem, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky!  So was it when my life began; so is it now I am a man, so be it when I shall grow old, or let me die!  The child is father of the man and I could wish my days to be bound each to each with natural piety…

I memorized the little poem mentioned above by Wordsworth when I was in the fifth grade. It has always stayed in my mind—partly because I loved the words, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky,” and mostly because I had to go to Mother for an explanation of the last lines and I wanted to see how it pertained to the rainbow!  I have news for you who have not read my memoirs—and this is it, a child of Missouri Hamrick Johnson never forgot her teachings.

She understood all the deep things of the spirit and being a poet herself she loved all of it and quoted it to us constantly.  When we needed to memorize it, she told us how to express the meaning aloud, showing us where there was punctuation at the end of a line or if none she pointed that out. She showed how to use the voice inflection when reciting to bring out the meaning of words with emotional response in the listener.

I could understand—If he lost his joy in seeing a rainbow, he may as well be dead!  But I could not fathom the next words which say, “And I could wish my days to be bound each to each by natural piety.”  What did that have to do with the rainbow?  Naturally, I would have to talk to Mother about this father of the man bit and the last line.

I asked Mr. Boggs, my teacher, and he said words to this effect—I only recall the essence.

“Now, Maxine, the best thing for you to do is to study it as you commit it to memory.  By the time you have it well in mind the meaning will come to you.”

That did not help any because I didn’t want to memorize and not know the meaning first, and I said that, but he went on with something about how the poet was showing that he had always loved the rainbow and would always love the rainbow as long as he lived and that he wanted us to remember the poem and think of it when we saw another rainbow.

Then I went to Mother and she looked at it for a minute or two and then asked, “Mac, do you remember the first time you ever saw a rainbow?”  I thought a bit and admitted that I did not.  We lived on top of a mountain and we saw plenty of rainbows and the whole family watched them with all of us “oohing” and “ahing” to our hearts content.

She said, “The poet says that his heart leaps up when he sees the rainbow.  Do you understand that?”

“Oh, yes, I understand that.  He means he is thrilled to see a rainbow just like we are.”

She agreed and said, “Then he says the child is father to the man, and do you know what he means by that?”

No, I did not know what that meant.  How could a child be a father?  That’s the question I had about it.

She answered, “You see he starts by saying that his heart leaps up when he sees a rainbow—You see, we always call out, “Come and see the rainbow!  Look!”  and then we remember that it is the Rainbow of Promise!  We remember that the Lord gave it as a sign to Noah after the flood with the promise that He would never again destroy the whole world with water. That’s what the poet is referring to here.  His heart leaps up because he remembers the story from his childhood, and the faith that came with the story he was told as a boy grew right along with him into manhood.

Now, notice, Mac, that he says he felt that way when he was a child and heard the story, and even now that he is a man and hears it, and it will be the same when he is old, he says, “Or let me die!”  You see it’s the story of life to him.  He feels that it is what makes life worth while.  He goes on to say then, that he wants all of his days to be bound together with that same faith of his childhood—He feels that it is so natural and perfect to be able to look at the rainbow and feel the faith well up in his heart and fill him full of joy.

Mac, I want to hear you recite this beautiful poem when you learn it.  I know you will want to remember the real meaning—just how William Wordsworth felt as he wrote it—you see, he simply assumed that anyone reading it would know what he was thinking.  The eternal truth that the rainbow is always a sign of God’s faithfulness, of His wonderful assurance to mankind of His love and protection, of how a person’s life is bound to Him in childhood and still bound  by Him in manhood, and kept by Him in his old age; such assurance is what makes life one long sweet song.  These are the thoughts that this poem brings to us, and it is what makes this poem timeless.

Now I want to say a few things about how this phrase, “the child is father of the man,” which has become a sort of “truism” in the public thought.  Psychologists have brought this to us in their findings and it has become something that everyone takes for granted. The idea has been with us for a couple of centuries at least.   For example, I remember reading something by John Ruskin, a nineteenth century art critic and author. He lectured at both Oxford and Cambridge, being a writer on social problems as well as art.

As I thought on this movie which portrays the effect of childhood experiences on the personality of an author, I remembered where I had read John Ruskin’s ideas.  It is a one-page piece written by him in a book I own, The Joy of Words,  published by J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, and is a collection of writings by famous authors.  It was published in 1960.

In this one, We Carve Our Destiny Early, he says you don’t start the human brain to working at age twenty-five, but that every hour preceding that age it is working and that not a moment of it can ever be done again, or the neglected blow struck with a cold iron. This the concluding sentence of his little treatise on carving the destiny of the individual:

“Take your vase of Venice glass out of the furnace, and strew chaff over it in its transparent heat and recover that  to its clearness and rubied glory when the north wind has blown upon it; but do not think to strew chaff over the child fresh from God’s presence, and to bring the heavenly colors back to him—at least, in this world. (This ties in with the words from one of Byron’s poems, “All when life is new commence with feelings warm and prospects high; But time strips our illusions of their hue, and one by one in turn some grand mistake casts off its bright skin yearly, like the snake.)[2]

This is the view that fails to take into account the fact that in God’s great mercy and love He provides for regeneration!  Conversion means metamorphosis—the butterfly bears no resemblance to a caterpillar—the change is complete!  Where did the wings come from?  Where all the gorgeous colors? The Bible teaches, the person who is “converted” is changed totally and is a “new creation.”  He has eternal life the moment he is converted. This means all the chaff is blown away!  Buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness!

Therefore, it is not true, as Mr. Ruskin holds, that no changes are possible, for God made us in his own image and He did not throw away the mold when Eve and Adam broke the vessel in the garden.  We inherited a flawed nature, but God fixed Himself a way to restore it to its condition before the Fall.

This wonderful change happens on the inside of the human being so that to people  viewing the person he seems the same person! Just looking at the new convert there is no way for the worldly person to know that because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, God is now able to send His Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in the spirit of the convert. This change is immediate and the thing that is most noticeable is the difference in attitude.

Here I will remind the reader of a scene in the old movie, Sergeant York, if you have seen it.  His horse was struck by lightning in a storm and it frightened York and filled him with awe that his own life was spared.  The little church was nearby and the congregation was singing as he found his way into the church and went right down the aisle to the front where he was converted.  Before that the story showed that he had worked so hard night and day and little by little had saved enough to buy a piece of “bottom land.” The man who owned it promised that he would not sell it until a certain date which would give him the time to earn the money for it, but he broke his promise and sold it to another man, just as York was getting ready to buy it.

After York’s conversion he approached that man in a spirit of forgiveness, but the man had a guilty conscience and he was scared to death of York at first, but York managed to convince him that he was now a different person, and did not want to harm him in any way.  The movie then showed how the man and York were reconciled and a whole new relationship was then possible.

The change in attitude produces other changes and they take place in the life and personality of the person as time goes on. The changes begin to actually bring about a difference in the way that person looks, physically, but this is a gradual change as the person grows in Christ. God places that person on a pathway of peace and goodwill toward others and makes him more attractive to people. That is why the Christian funeral is not filled with hopeless grief, for we know that we have another type of body waiting for us where Jesus has preceded us and fixed us a place to reside.

It is true that even with years of psychoanalysis it has proved impossible to erase the effects of early conditioning, drug and alcohol addiction, etc. or change human personality, nothing is impossible for God to do, just as the angel Gabriel said to Mary at the time of the Annunciation.  The human being is His crowning creation. Since we were made in His Image, it was His intention that we share in His Divine Nature, and with the Fall that nature was withdrawn, however, in Christ, it is returned to us. (2 Peter 1:4)


[1] William Wordsworth,  Apr.1770-Apr.1850

[2] I remembered this from high school English, but unable to cite the source.  I located this on internet, but I was unable to read the exact title of the larger work that it is taken from.  Google the words “casts off its bright skin yearly” and you will find it.

One Response to “My response to the movie, Saving Mr. Banks”

  1. max says:

    Bonnie Northen
    January 15, 2014 – 1:43 PM
    I love your comments and all the wisdom about the effect of our childhood on our adult life, but there is nothing that can prevent the work of God in our life when we submit to it. Hope you enjoyed the movie as much as I did. I knew it would be right up your alley!!

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