Duck Tales, the Gospel, and ‘Nothing to Fear’
Disney is producing a reboot of their award-winning cartoon from the late 1980s: ‘Duck Tales’!
That was one of my favorite cartoons growing up.
The cartoon featured the wealthy, stingy duck with a heart of gold Scrooge McDuck—“Uncle Scrooge”, along with his misfit yet lovable nephews.
My favorite episode of “Duck Tales” was called ‘Nothing to Fear.’
The first scene of the episode closes in on the McDuck mansion, when all of a sudden dark clouds hover over, thick and black, and a terrible rainfall ensues. Who is behind this black cloud? Magica Despell of course, and in this new scheme of hers, she will conjure up Scrooge and the nephews’ worst fears until they run and hide, or until the wealthy mallard gives up his “Lucky #1”
Then the strange, fearful characters and events menaced the main characters. The butler sees a fearsome vacuum cleaner with huge teeth. The big next door neighbor, Doofus, wants to eat a banana, which grows into an immense duck-eating monster. Right after that, one of his worst enemies, “Bully Beagle”, appears out of nowhere and starts harassing him.
For Uncle Scrooge, he visits his Money Bin. One inside, he finds that all of his money is gone! Then a horde of bill collectors rushes toward him, hounding him from across his front lawn.
“This is a nightmare!” he yells.
The nephews confront a warped, hideous version of their teacher Mrs. Quackenbush. She threatens to give them all detention because they did not do their homework. Then one of the nephews sits down to play “Commander Gander”, a video game with a hideous evil boss: a space-pig wearing a purple suit. Suddenly, he leaps out of the television screen and frightens the ducklings. Then their worst fear storms into their room: a large version of Uncle Scrooge. He shames all of them: “You have been eating me out of house and home. I don’t love you, and I never wanted you!”
In another scene, the real Uncle Scrooge looks for his three nephews, when suddenly their evil dopple-gangers show up, with darkened brows and wicked smiles. They call him nasty names, then carve their own names into the wood, then shake him for all his wwealth. Then they throw him out the window.
Soaking in the wicked downpour outside, Uncle Scrooge laments: “On No! I have failed them. I have done a terrible job.”
All of a sudden, he sees the three real nephews with knapsacks tied around sticks. They are running way from home!
“Boys! What’s going on?” he asks, “Why, I thought that I saw you inside!”
His three nephews respond: “Uncle Scrooge, we just packed up our things to leave because we thought that you did not love us anymore.”
The truth sets everyone free (John 8:32), and Uncle Scrooge immediately dissuades that lie.
Then announces that that something is wrong:
“Boys, come here. I have to tell you something. What we are seeing, what we are afraid of — they are not real.”
Uncle Scrooge realizes what has been happening—black magic has been harassing them, and that means: Magica Despell!
The wicked witch immediately appears, cackling and taunting the rich duck and his nephews.
“Until you give me your “Lucky #1” she announces, “You will run from your fears!”
With a wave of her wand, Magica produces four scary characters which had hounded them throughout the episode.
“Now lads,” Scrooge answers. “If we don’t face our fears, we will be running from them forever. Stand up to them. Show them who’s boss.”
The first “Fear”, Ms. Quackenbush, threatens the three boys: “You didn’t do your homework!” How do the three nephews respond? With the truth: “Oh, yes we did! Here it is!” Then with a mild apology, the frightening Ms. Quackenbush disappears: “Oh, Sorry!”
The next “Fear”–the evil “Commander Gander” snarls at the boys. “We’re not afraid of you. You’re just a video game!” With that, the Gander explodes.
Magica grows despondent. The fears are not working.
Then Scrooge confronts the “Three Evil Nephews”:
“You are not my boys, because these are mine, and they love me.” With that, the three evil nephews shrink into nothing, then disappear.
Then the nephews confront the “Big Bad Scrooge”:
“If you were our Uncle, would we do this to you?” Right on the spot, the three nephews grab clumps of mud and throw them at the “false uncle”, who then disappears into nothing.
The nephews and their Uncle Scrooge have defeated their fears. The sun shines in the sky, and the cloud of Fear hovers over Magica Despell, raining all over her.
“Oh No!” She screams, “My worst fears are coming true!” Then the Cloud of Fear pursues her all the way back to her lair.
So, what does this little episode have to do with the Gospel?
First, whatever we fear is based on lies, and underlying those fears is often condemnation of some kind. Notice how one of the nephews admits a sense of shame about fearing a video game. Uncle Scrooge condemns himself for failing his nephews, and the nephews feel the same way.
But through the Gospel (Act 13: 38-39), we learn that Jesus took our sin, our shame, and gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We learn the truth, we reject all shame, and then we have power to resist the evil.
Perfect love casts out fear, and this love must be received in truth. When the nephews and Uncle Scrooge fought back with the truth, they overcame their fears. When we receive the Truth of who we are in Christ, that He loves us perfectly (1 John 4:!7), and that this love transforms us from alienated and dead in our trespasses to accepted and alive through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:4-6), we overcome every fear, which is based on: False Evidences Appearing Real.
When we receive the “Good News”, we can rest assured that in Christ, there is “Nothing to Fear.”
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