Alice in Wonderland—Finding Much-Ness— A Movie Review

Alice in Wonderland—Finding Much-Ness— A Movie Review

By: Stacey Tuttle

Alice has returned to Wonderland, but she isn’t the same.  In fact, she is so altered that there is much debate as to whether she is Alice – the Alice – or not.  Granted, she is older, but age is not the primary change.  What is the change in Alice which has made her so unrecognizable?  She has “lost her much-ness.” And like all great stories, this issue of losing and finding again her “much-ness,” is not limited to the world of Alice, but is something which speaks to the human condition at large. 

In Alice’s real world and in Wonderland as well, Alice has to face some major life choices:  arranged marriage, career dreams, fighting a Jabberwocky on behalf of the White Queen…to name a few.  The thing is, in losing her much-ness, Alice has sort of forgotten how to make decisions beyond doing that which pleases others.  The White Queen sagely advises Alice, “You can’t live your life to please others, because when you step out to face that creature, you will step out alone.”  Alice considers doing a host of things to please others, but as she is doing it to please others and not because of any personal conviction or compunction, she considers them shrinkingly, without bravery or heart. 

Here’s the rub, it seems very kind and good and sacrificial to do things for others.  Indeed it is kind and good and sacrificial to do things for others.  So, why has living her life to please others taken away Alice’s much-ness?  Why has it made her less the person she used to be? 

Ironically, when Alice finds her much-ness she does fight the Jabberwocky on behalf of the White Queen.  She does the very thing which was wanted of her.  But she is transformed in deciding to do so.  What is it that made a difference?  It’s a subtle difference with significant ramifications.  Alice made the decision to fight the Jabberwocky not to please the White Queen (and all who aligned with her), but to serve the White queen and her subjects.  She was willing to give her life for them and in that, she found purpose, greatness and indeed, much-ness.  

Choosing to live your life to serve others is a much higher calling than living your life to please others.  Pleasing others is a chasing after the wind.  But serving others, this is a far deeper, greater calling.  Alice could not have pleased everyone – in choosing to please the White Queen, she offended the Red Queen.  But she could do what was best for all involved.  She found the courage to disappoint others when she found the courage to serve the highest good. 

I think it’s important to note that Alice didn’t find her much-ness in “learning to say no” or in learning simply do what she wanted.  She found her dreams and her courage through serving others…laying down her own rights for the good of others. 

Like I said in the beginning, all great stories have something which speaks to the human condition at large.  I think, like Alice, many of us were much when we were young.  We were dreamers and optimists, excited about the future’s mysterious potential.  As we grow, we rarely grow into those dreams.  More often, we shrink.  We become burdened by responsibilities and “reality”.  We feel life has little choice for us and we have to do things which please our families, our spouses, our children…   I understand that there is some ignorance (and silliness at times) to youthful dreams.  But, maturity should bring wiser, better dreams, not the death of dreams. 

Why is this such a problem?  Forget the fact that many adults are, in consequence, negative, depressed, dead, dull and disillusioned.  Not that that isn’t enough to be a significant problem.  But, beyond that, as Christians, it indicates some very problematic theology.  If we, as Christians, are dull and disappointed it shows that our God doesn’t offer much to dream about or hope in.  Who wants to follow a leader whose followers have all lost their much-ness?  If we see life as full of limitations, it reveals that we believe our God is full of limitations as well.  If we think we have nothing good to look forward to in our future, then it reveals that we don’t trust what God said in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” 

As Christians, it is critical that we don’t lose our much-ness.  In fact, we ought to be growing in much-ness as we grow in Christ—especially considering our prime example of much-ness was Christ himself.  Christ, who gave his very life to save ours, who in just three years of ministry changed the entire world, was not just much, he was the most.  And it is Christ who intends to continually make us much more until we are the most we can be, the person we were created to become.  Christ achieved his most-ness by living his life in service to mankind.  Our path to much-ness is the same path.

Oh Christian, have you lost your much-ness?  Has your confidence, your dreams, your hope, your future been shrinking in reverse proportion to your age?  Have you thought about what that says about what you believe about God?  Your confidence is not in who you are, but in who God is.  Your future is not in acquisition, but in service.  Your hope is not in the lottery but in your salvation. 

Questions for Discussion:

  • Do you feel you have lost your much-ness?  Were you more when you were younger in some respects?
  • Would you say that maturity brought you wiser, better dreams, or the death of your dreams?
  • What do you think your attitudes/dreams/confidence (your much-ness or lack of) says about your theology?  Similarly, what do you think it says to others about the God you serve?
  • Do you believe that God has a hope and future for you (Jer 29:11)?  Do you believe that God gives good gifts to his children (Matt 7:11)? 
  • Do you have a tendency to try to please others or to try to serve others?