The Gospel According to Disney

Published August 2004 by Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky.

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Michael Eisner (left) and Mark Pinsky, Book Expo, New York City (June, 2005)
Photos by Sarah M. Brown

“…sparkles of marvelous, irreverent wit…readers will be struck by Pinsky’s cogent observations about Disney classics.”
— Publishers Weekly, July 12, 2004

“…Pinsky provides a throrough yet captivating
read for anyone who has ever wondered about the spiritual side of the Disney phenomenon.”
— Christian Retailing, August 2004

“…a good starting point for readers needing an even-handed introduction to Disney and religion.”
—, August 6, 2004

“Pinsky is well qualified to write about Disney, because he has been a reporter in the twin capitals of the Kingdom of the Mouse, Los Angeles and Orlando. ‘The Gospel According to Disney’ benefits from extensive research and gives the reader a valuable glimpse into the sometimes-dark backstories of the creators of these beloved films and
what informed their visions.”
— Cary McMullen, The Lakeland LedgerAugust 7, 2004

Articles about the book:

Disney’s Frozen might be the most Christian movie lately

by Mark Pinsky
The Guardian
 -Saturday 25 January 2014
A Southern Baptist university professor in Texas is suggesting that Disney’s animated feature Frozen, now doing well at the box office and just nominated for two Academy Awards, “might be the most Christian movie that I have seen this year”. (read more)

How Disney bypassed God to preach the gospel of dreams coming true – 
The Guardian UK
Disney may have colonised the imagination of the world’s children for the best part of 80 years, but – remarkably in one of the world’s most ostentatiously Christian countries – the entertainment company has done so without the aid of God, a new book points out. (read more)

The Cross & the Pen: “The Gospel According to Disney” –
I met Mark Pinsky a year or so ago when, as a journalist with The Orlando Sentinel, he called, asking about interviewing me concerning my three novels. I’d heard of him, of course. Everyone who is anyone in the writing world (and especially in this area) had heard of him. (read more)

Exploring the Magic Kingdom message –
 Signs on San Diego
Thirty-eight years after Walt Disney’s death, his prophetic vision of fantasy as a healthy realm of imagination has triumphed. Now, let’s consider the spiritual content that fueled Disney’s dominance. (read more)

Book portrays Disney kingdom as godless – 
Taipei Times
Disney may have colonized the imagination of the world’s children for the best part of 80 years, but — remarkably, in one of the world’s most ostentatiously Christian countries — the entertainment company has done so without the aid of God, a new book points out. (read more)

What would Walt do? – 
USA Today
Pinsky, religion writer for the Orlando Sentinel, uses “gospel” in the generic sense — a body of values and ethics — to examine the global cultural force of the Walt Disney Co. (read more)

Digging for the Deeper Meaning in Disney Movies – 
L.A. Times
Ever since Walt Disney began turning out feature-length animated films, scholars, theologians and journalists have plumbed the depths of the simple morality tales for deeper religious meanings and messages. (read more)

Faith, trust and pixie dust: Author explores ‘Gospel According to Disney’ – 
Herald Tribune
In 1940, if you were a wood carver in a Disney animated film who needed to bring life to a puppet named Pinocchio, you would look to the heavens and wish upon a star — where dreams, not prayers, come true. (read more)

Articles by the Author

The gospel according to Disney
by Mark Pinsky
The Guardian
 – August 2004
Many of us who have drifted from faith often return to organised religion as parents, if only in search of moral instruction for our children. But there is a more pervasive communicator of values closer to home: the animated features produced by Walt Disney. (read more)

The gospel according to Disney
 by Mark Pinsky
 – November 2004
LATER THIS month, America’s Muslims will take their plea for tolerance and understanding to some unusual venues: movie theaters in nearly 40 US and Canadian cities, including Revere. Their vehicle is a full-length, animated film called “Muhammad: The Last Prophet,” and the limited run will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Islamic leaders hope that children, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will watch this film, which recounts the birth of their religion. (read more)

Cartoons (seriously) can teach us about faith
 by Mark Pinsky
USA Today
– November 2006
Do television’s Homer and Bart Simpson have anything to teach us about eternal questions such as how God wants us to worship him, or whether there is one true faith? What does the controversial cable cartoon show South Park have to say about the nature of the soul, or how the founders of the world’s great religions might get along with each other in the hereafter? Nowhere on the small screen are these weighty issues dealt with on a more regular basis than in edgy, animated comedies. (read more)

The Reader, the Evangelists, and the Wardrobe
 by Mark Pinsky
Harvard Divinity Bulletin
– Winter 2006
FOR ALL ITS TOXIC, ultra-violent, and hyper-sexualized faults, popular culture sometimes offers an engaging opportunity to talk about faith, religion, and spirituality. Pastors and youth leaders are convinced that it is possible to arrive at a serious discussion about these topics—despite beginning with a sometimes-silly premise. Using popular culture as a reference point enables them to reach people, especially young people, where they are in our media-drenched environment. (read more)

What Walt Wrought
 by Mark Pinsky
Wall Street Journal
– January 2010
Walt Disney Co. no doubt expected kudos for breaking racial barriers in its holiday hit, “The Princess and the Frog,” and that praise has come from some quarters. But the entertainment giant also finds itself receiving stinging criticism from conservative evangelical Christians on a Web warpath.  (read more)