“I don’t like food – I love it! And if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” – Anton Ego
The animated film Ratatouille has a character that fascinates me. Anton Ego is a food critic that downgraded Gusteau’s restaurant from five stars to four following the death of its owner and namesake. Gusteau’s famous line was “Anyone can cook.” The rat, Remy, who is the star of the movie, guides Linguini’s (Gusteau’s son, who couldn’t cook) actions by tugging on his hair from inside his hat to create impeccable meals. The rat is actually the cook, but only Linguini and Remy know.
Ego is perceived as one of the bad guys in the movie because his motivation flies in the face of both the lovable Gusteau and the high aspirations of Remy and Linguini. But it becomes clear by the end of the movie that this food critic is truly in love with the art. As the line quoted above shows, Ego won’t give his approval to something just because everyone else does. When he shows up the next night to fulfill his duty as a critic, the waiter asks him for his order:
Mustafa: [taking Ego’s order] Do you know what you’d like this evening, sir?
Anton Ego: Yes, I think I do. After reading a lot of overheated puffery about your new cook, you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?
Mustafa: With what, sir?
Anton Ego: Perspective. Fresh out, I take it?
Mustafa: I am, uh…
Anton Ego: Very well. Since you’re all out of perspective and no one else seems to have it in this BLOODY TOWN, I’ll make you a deal. You provide the food, I’ll provide the perspective, which would go nicely with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947.
I think our churches are afraid of a little perspective. Naivety would lead me to conclude that when people have a strong feeling toward a Christian value that it’s purely from a desire for integrity in the church. Experience tells me that it’s often more about defending a position that we’ve adhered to since we were kids, or maybe one that is the current Christian fad. When we lose our objectivity we can end up studying the values of the church more than the One who established it.
Perspective can be a dangerous road, though. I had a difficult discussion with a friend from church last evening who has a slightly different viewpoint than I on something in the Bible. It broke my heart to think that I had misrepresented myself, which I had to some extent. We’d had a brief discussion about a complex topic a couple of weeks back and my comments led her to a conclusion other than what I had meant to portray.
But, as emotional as these things can get, we need to have the tough discussions so that our perspective stays pure. My friend’s willingness to speak with me says volumes about her character. If there are parts of the Bible that seems to disprove our theory about some aspect of God it is unhealthy to simply ignore them in favor of what we want to believe. And, let this thought comfort you: You don’t have to have all of the answers. Since nobody does, we will disagree on some things. I believe God actually wants it that way. He is far too complex. If he could be figured out by mere humans, he wouldn’t be much of a God.
Like Anton ego says, if there is something about your faith that you don’t love, you don’t have to swallow. Just be sure that your understanding of love isn’t based on emotion or preference, but on the realization that Jesus calls you to it.