“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” So wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89), Christian poet of the Victorian era. He could have been describing the experience of watching Earth, the forthcoming film from the rejuvenated Disneynature. Earth opens on April 22 in theaters nationwide. It’s a beautiful film, with stunning images of parts of Creation we rarely, if ever see! Jonathan Merritt has written a useful review of the film “Earth” for Relevant magazine.
We’ve prepared a discussion guide for the film for Christian moviegoers, which has been published on the Disney website. You can download the PDF version of the Disneynature/Flourish Earth Discussion Guide pictured at the left, or use the content below.
There are also other useful resources based on the film available at the film website, prepared for secular audiences, teachers, and students. For a distillation of the best of these, check out this Disneynature Earth Support Materials page with faith links.
Disneynature Earth Discussion Guide
Romans 1 verse 20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (NIV). Can you name two or three ways in which you see God’s invisible qualities revealed in the scenes of the film Earth? Think perhaps of the experiences of the animal families you see portrayed, or of the planetary systems that support life, or the beauty of the landscapes that you experienced. How would your non-Christian neighbors interpret the same visual experience? How would you talk with them about the Creator and His handiwork if you discovered they had seen the film too?
Earth shows the grandeur of creation in ways that most of us never experience. What is the most amazing direct experience you’ve had of creation? It might be a visit to a spectacular natural site like the Grand Canyon, or your observation of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, or even a special sunrise. Whatever it was, what did it teach you about God and His attributes? How is your encounter with creation in a nature documentary like Earth similar or different?
In the book of Job in the Old Testament, God reminds Job that His wisdom and His ways are beyond the reach of human understanding. In speaking to Job, God makes continual reference to His creation and His own enjoyment and knowledge of it. Read Job chapters 38 through 41 in light of what you see in the film Earth. How does God relate to the parts of His creation that humans rarely if ever see? (see especially Job 38:16-18, 38:25-27, 38:39-41; some commentators believe that the “behemoth” of 40:15-24 refers to the elephant or even the hippopotamus, and that the “leviathan” of chapter 41 refers to the crocodile—but think of the great white shark scenes in Earth!) Other scriptures that talk of God’s relation to non-human creation include Matthew 10:29-31, Psalm 104, and Genesis 9:8-11.
Often we mistakenly think about creation as something God has “given” us. Yet Scripture is clear that “The earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1-2). Ownership resides with the Creator, and humans are given a delegated dominion in Genesis 1:28 and 2:15. People are never shown and are rarely mentioned in the film Earth. What does it mean for humans to “rule over” (Gen 1:28) such a immense and awe-inspiring planet? What does it mean to “work it and take care of it”? (Gen 2:15).
A song in many of our hymnbooks testifies to the goodness and witness of God’s creation:
This is my Father’s world
by Maltbie D. Babcock
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: he shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!
Take a minute to dwell on this hymn in the light of the inspiring images in the film earth. What prayer of gratitude would you offer for the God who created all that is?
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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