Sharing God’s Story with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

I love Tim Burton movies. Not only is he one of my favorite directions, but some of his movies are high up on my list of favorite movies. While I don’t care for horror or slasher films, but I do enjoy a good dark Gothic tale. And Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is one of those movies!

Spoiler FYI
The following discussion assumes that you have already seen Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, do not plan to see it but want to discuss it what friends and family who have, or simply don’t care if the movie is “spoiled.” Consider yourself warned.


It only took three years, but I finally saw Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Although not my favorite Tim Burton movie, it was worth the wait. Simply put Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is about a Gothic love triangle. The Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter – Voice) loves Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp – Voice).Victor, however, loves Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson – Voice), who loves him back.
The hitch is that Victor, though a small misunderstanding, is married to the Corpse Bride.
What plays out is a stunningly subtle love story extolling the importance of sacrifice and humility.

Corpse Bride, a Reel Parable


While there is much that many Christians/Churches may not like about this movie (a non-biblical view of the afterlife, ghosts, hauntings, occultic images, etc.) there is much about Corpse Bride that is actually very biblical. At its core, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is indeed a Reel Parable teaching us two very specific biblical truths;

  • True love is a sacrificial love.
  • The afterlife is not something to fear, but is instead freeing, liberating, and to be enjoyed forever.

While a small part of the film, the end of Act II, where Victor is willing to die for the Corpse Bride, and the end of Act II, where the Corpse Bride is willing to sacrifice for Victor, illustrate that true love is a sacrificial love. As the individual character’s story lines collide into the climatic ending we see the Corpse Bride show her true love for Vincent by sacrificing her own interest for him. She loves him so much that she is willing to sacrifice what she wants to give him what he wants. As Jesus said:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

True love sacrifices for the object of that love.

A man will sacrifice for the woman he loves.A woman will sacrifice for the man she loves.

A child will sacrifice for the video game he loves.

God will sacrifice for the creation He loves.

Why? Because true love sacrifices.

While the ending is a good illustration for true love, the entire film is a parable teaching us about death and the afterlife. Tim Burton very carefully visualizes the difference between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The world of the living is dark, dreary drab, and very monochrome in color. There are a lot of blacks and whites with a little gray thrown in for color. : )

The world of the dead, by contrast, is full of color, music, feasting, enjoyment, merriment, etc. In the Corpse Bride death is not something to fear, but is instead something to look forward to!
In the Corpse Bride we see that death is freeing.

In death we are free from the trappings and concerns of the world.

In death we are free!


This is illustrated in the Corpse Bride by the use of butterflies. At the beginning of the movie we see Victor drawing a butterfly, then letting it go, and it flying a way to freedom. At the end of the movie, after the Corpse Bride has emptied herself of her own ambitions for Victor’s sake, we see her turn into hundreds of butterflies, which fly off to the same freedom as our first butterfly.
It can be no accident that Tim Burton used the butterfly, a symbol of rebirth, as a metaphor for true freedom.

Death is not final.

Death is not something to be feared.

Death – like the butterfly illustrates – can be about rebirth.

This is true.

It is not true because Tim Burton says it is true.

It is true because God says it is true.

Regardless of your understanding of the specifics of what the Bible says about the afterlife (whether we spend eternity in Heaven, on a new Earth, etc.) the Bible clearly teaches that death does not have to be feared and that death is not the end. As Paul said to some friends in Corinth;


(FYI, this quote is in all caps because the New Testament writer, Paul, borrowed this saying from the Old Testament, specifically Hosea 13:14.)

Like Tim Burton, Paul tells us that death is not something to fear. Paul even says in a letter to his friends in Philippi that;

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better. (Philippians 1:21-23)

Do you fear death?

If so there is no need to. Although Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride deals with death, it does not deal with redemption. Paul, however, makes it clear that death and redemption are tangled up in the dance of salvation. Salvation is not, and never has been, free. It may be a “free gift” to us, but God paid a great price in Jesus’ death. Death need not be feared because Jesus conquered it once and for all through His death and resurrection.

Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; (John 3:14b-18a)

God found beauty in the ugliest thing. God found beauty in death.


Hey, would you please do me a favor?  Would you share this with someone you think would enjoy it? And If you haven’t already, will you please sign up for the Reel Parables email list?

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to See God’s Story in Movies,”

And be sure to check out our new Start Here and About pages!

Until next time,  – God bless.

Simon L Smith

Sharing God’s Story with Music

or How Pop Music Helps me Worship

I envy people who worship easily, because I don’t. There are songs I won’t sing (“It Is Well With my Soul”, because it’s not) and there are lines of songs I won’t sing (“Jesus you are all I want”, because He’s not). I envy people who can sing these songs because they are true for them. I also envy people who can sing these lines because they want them to be true for them. I can’t. I envy people who can worship for the way it will be like. I don’t. But I do worship.


pro·fane  (pr-fn, pr-) adj.

1. Marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred.

2. Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music.

I even love some traditional hymns, especially “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

I can worship with Robert Robinson when he says,

Prone to wonder Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.

I feel that way sometimes. I, too, am prone to wonder. I, too, am prone to leave the God I love.

I get that.

I also love Amazing Grace. I can worship with John Newton when he says,

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

As I’ve said before, I’ve got my own sh!t.

I get these hymns.

I feel these words.

I even like some modern worship/praise songs, especially “Blessed be Your name.”

I can worship with Matt Redman when he says,

Blessed be Your name. When the sun’s shining down on me. When the world’s all as it should be. Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name. On the road marked with suffering. Though there’s pain in the offering. Blessed be Your name

Most modern praise songs tend to be about the bright and shiny parts of life.

I like that this one is also about the darker and dirty parts.

Because that’s my life.

My life does indeed have the bright and shining moments! Much of my life is amazingly beautiful!

But I have also walked the “road marked with suffering.”

And there has been “pain in the offering.”

My life has both. And so this becomes my prayer.

But more often than not I worship with a profane worship.

I worship with songs written by people who don’t believe in – and are at times even hostile towards – the God love.


Regardless of what I do with Reel Parables, I don’t tend to see God everywhere or in everything.

I don’t usually see a beautiful sunrise (like the ones I’ve seen off the coast of Florida) or a beautiful sunset (like I’ve seen off the coast of California and Mexico) and immediately praise God or thank Him fr His amazing creation.

Worship does not always come easily for me.

But I do feel what others feel. And sometimes its the non-religious ones that capture my feelings the best.

The Sinner in Me – Depeche Mode

When Dave Gahan sings,

If I could just hide, the sinner inside, and keep him denied. How great life would be, if I could be free, from the sinner in me.”

I know what he means.

As I wrote here I am very aware of my sin.

This song becomes my song of confession and gives me the outlet to confess my sins to God. (I John 1:9-10)

I don’t wallow in them.

I’m reminded of them.

I confess them.

And it reminds me that God already took care of them. And that draws me closer to God.

Why? Because he loves me unconditionally.

Put another way, God loves me despite all of my past, current or future sh!t.

See also Depeche Mode’s Wrong and Social Distortion’s I was Wrong.

Unconditional – the Bravery

I’ve spent my whole life surrounded and I’ve spent my whole life alone.

I wonder why I never wonder why the easiest things are so hard.

I just want, I just want love. I just want, I just want love. I just want, I just want love.

I just want something, something for nothing. Something, something for nothing.

I get this song. I too want unconditional love (see above).

And when Sam Endicott wonders why the easiest things are so hard, I get it!

This song becomes my prayer as I wrestle with how God could love me so unconditionally.

For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.

Romans 7:15

Indeed. Why are the easiest things so hard?

Regardless, I found what the Bravery longs for. I found my unconditional love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

God loved me before I every loved Him. His love for me is not conditional on my love for Him.

God loves me unconditional.

When I sing this song I praise God that He loves me that way.

I praise God that He loves me unconditionally.

Hey, would you please do me a favor?  If you haven’t already, will you please sign up for the Reel Parables email list?

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to See God’s Story in Movies,”

And be sure to check out our new Start Here and About pages!

Until next time,  – God bless.

Simon L Smith

Do you do the same? What songs allow you to easily worship?

How to Time Travel

Or how Time Travel affects your Past, your Present, and your Future


I love a good time travel story. Heck, I’ve often loved a bad time travel story. There is just something about time travel that is fun. They are fun to watch, fun to talk about, and fun to tear apart.

Seriously, in the original Terminator, how is John Conner even in the future, to send his dad back in time, if his dad was not yet in the past to get his mom pregnant so he can be in the future?

That gives me a headache…

Anyway, since today is the future from Back to the Future, I wanted to talk about how time travel and how it affects our past, our present and our future.

Time Travel and the Past

What would you go back and change if you could travel back in time?

What mistake would you fix or prevent? I know what I would do and every single one involves a relationship.

What about you? I bet (almost) every mistake you would go back and fix involves a relationship.

So, go back in time. Confess. Forgive. Confront. Make the first move. Make the first call.

Does the relationship need to be restored? Make the first move.

Maybe the relationship does’t need to be restored. Maybe it was abusive. In that case forgive.

Often the person we need to forgive or let off the hook is ourselves.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, (Philippians 3:13)

The past is past. What happened – or what didn’t happen – is done. That said, the past can still have a grip on us. Again, make the first move.

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. (James 5:16)

Did you hurt someone? It is not too late to make amends. Forgive them or forgive yourself. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change how it affects your present.

So yeah, in a way you can affect the past and change your present.

Time Travel and the Present

As much as I like this video, it is misleading. Sure, the future is what we make it. But I tend to muck things up. I would rather God make my future.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

That is my single favorite verse on purpose. Notice how simple it is:

  • Trust in the Lord
  • Don’t trust in yourself
  • Acknowledge Him (as in obey)
  • He will make your path straight

Obey God and He will make your path straight. Notice he will not put you on a new path! This path you are on – this life – even though it is shaped as it is from your past, is your path. God won’t take you off of this path and put you on another. Instead He will make this path straight!

Yes, God will use your life, your story, yes, even your past mistakes, for His glory!

He will make your path straight when you obey him.

And get this – He has told us what to do. Read Paul and Peter.

  • Husbands – Love your wife like Christ loved the Church (sacrificially).
  • Wives – Submit to your husbands
  • Parents – Don’t exasperate your kids and raise them to love God.
  • Kids – Obey and honor your parents.
  • Masters (Employers) – Treat your workers well, and as fellow heirs of Christ and equal in God’s sight.
  • Slaves (Employees) – Obey your boss and do your job for God, not for man.

I know, easy saying, hard doing. But God has told us what he expects.

Remember, God knows you will not always do this. Don’t forget I John.

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousnessIf we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (I John 1:9-10)

Will you fail? Yes.

Will you sin?  Yep.

But God knows, loves you anyway (Romans 5:8). Confess, be cleansed, keep going.

Time Travel and the Future

What would you do if you knew the future? How would your life – and your decisions – be different if you knew what the future held?

Guess what?

God Knows the Future. And we know God. We know the guy who knows the future. We trust (see Time Travel and the Present) the One who knows the future.

Oh yeah, not only does God know the future, but God wins.

Be bold. Be faithful. The One we follow is the one who wins.

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11)

Yeah, I know this was not written to you or to me. But, I do believe that the point God made does indeed apply to us!

Read the rest of this passage and notice what God says:

  • When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers.
  • When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.
  • If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you.

Call out to God. Pray to – talk with – God. Seek him with all your heart and all of your soul and all of your might. He will be there for you.

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. (James 4:8)


Want to change the future? Do the right thing today.

Good relationships don’t happen by accident. Do the right thing today. Plant that “good relationship” today and it will blossom in the future.

Want that new/different job? What do you need to do today to make that happen in the future?

The future is coming. And, to some degree, you can shape it today. Just remember that God is in charge, not you. So how do these two things work together?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishesYou ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evilSo whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. (James 4:13-17)

Do good. Obey God. Trust the One who knows – and controls – the future.

Hey, would you please do me a favor?  If you haven’t already, will you please sign up for the Reel Parables email list?

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also receive content that I occasionally only send to the Reel Parable’s community.

And be sure to check out our new Start Here and About pages!

Until next time,  – God bless.

Simon L Smith

So, what is your favorite time travel movie?




Welcome to the (Back to the) Future!

Welcome to the Future! So yeah, today is October 21, 2015. So what you ask? Today is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown to when they traveled into the future!

My how time flies.




You do not know about tomorrowWhat is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes.

James 4:14