Studies » What I Learned from The Great Mouse Detective

I'm slowly working my way through our VHS collection of the Disney classics. The other day my daughter and I snuggled on the couch with a bowl of frozen cherries (those were, in hindsight, a really bad idea) and watched The Great Mouse Detective. What I discovered was a surprisingly deep tale of morality.

In this seemingly benign children's movie, we have our classic archetypal figures: Professor Ratigan is the villain—a thoroughly nasty, vindictive, and manipulative character. On the other side we have Basil from Baker Street, a Sherlockesque little mouse with a quick mind and an inexplicable drive to see his long-standing rival behind bars.

And while we might sigh at the predictability of these characters, they speak a profound truth about the two ways we can live our lives.

Although very obviously a rat, Ratigan lusts after the throne of the mouse kingdom, threatening, manipulating, and even executing anyone who would get in his way. The story begins with the kidnapping of a gentle-hearted toy maker, who is forced to create a robot which later will impersonate the queen and appoint Ratigan as the Queen's consort, effectively giving him control over the entire realm.

Basil, on the other hand, is obsessed with truth and justice. He has applied his very keen mind to the purpose of exposing criminals and seeing them dealt with, even at the risk of his own life. Throughout the movie he follows the evidence where it leads, overcoming dangerous obstacles, traps, and his own discouragement, to eventually confront his enemy in an epic final clash.

Ratigan represents a life ordered towards itself, and what it thinks is the right way of things. He sees what he wants, what he thinks he deserves, and is willing to go to any length to achieve it. He attempts to manipulate reality to conform to himself.

Aged Sherlock, Oil study on wood

Basil represents a life ordered towards the highest good. Utterly unconcerned with himself, he seeks only to follow the truth.

It may be tempting to think of the villain as "out there", a force opposing us and threatening our happiness... But the villain hides within our own hearts, for the villain may be the idea that we somehow deserve happiness. It might be the American dream of a big house, nice car, and well-paying career. It might be the belief that if I just go to church and be "nice", I'll have earned my ticket to heaven. It might be a political ideology, self-help program, religion, organization, or advertisement that tells me if I just do A, B, and C, everything will finally be right in the world. The villain may simply be a thousand tiny ideas or little lies that we've unknowingly bought into.

The solution: the Resurrection.

At the end of the movie, Ratigan's own desperate attempts to destroy Basil drag them both to their deaths... but from out of the depths the heroic little mouse rises victorious.

This children's tale is an allegory of the ways we must die to ourselves, to the ideologies, lies, habits, and sins that would lead us away from truth. This is no grand fable, nor a one-time event, but a million micro-deaths and resurrections.

I would argue that the grace of God is being able to see, one moment at a time, these small failings and to allow them to fall away so that truth and goodness may rise. It is allowing our crucified and risen Lord to work in us.

We live in a time where social justice warriors are protesting more loudly than ever, ready to beat down every last vestige of oppression. But peace will only come when we realize that peace begins in our own hearts—in the hearts of a people whose lives are ordered towards truth, life, goodness, beauty, and justice. A people utterly unconcerned with themselves, who seek only to follow the highest good wherever it leads.

A people seeking first the kingdom of God.

The Joy of Christmas

"Christmas is, for me, the joy and love that passed between a young woman and the child who had been placed in her arms."

— Scott Hahn, Joy to the World

A year and a half ago, my midwife handed me a pink little girl, and my world exploded. After 24 hours of hard labour, I will never forget how instantly I fell in love with this beautiful new person.  

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Last Chance to Order!

I'm going to be away over Christmas, so if you're hoping to nab a few prints before the new year, just submit the order by 12pm tomorrow!

Orders received between December 23rd and 30th will be shipped out on January 1st.

I apologize for any inconvenience. May everyone have a blessed holiday season!

All to Your Love

"My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future, to your providence."
—Saint Padre Pio

I'm just getting over a nasty flu (ergo the lack of blog post this past week), and boy did it freak me out.

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I Pray for Faithfulness

"I do not pray for success, I pray for faithfulness."
— Mother Teresa

The other day I came across this gem from Peter Kreeft:

I think nobody alive today is a more powerful agent of conversion than someone like Mother Teresa. You can refute arguments but not her life. When she came to the National Prayer Breakfast and lectured President Clinton about abortion, he had nothing to say to her. He can’t argue with a saint. It’s too bad there isn’t an easier way, because becoming a saint is not the easiest thing in the world. It’s much easier to become an apologist or a philosopher or a theologian.

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First fundraiser was a success!

I just shipped off 150 prints to Pure Witness Ministries!

This ministry, founded by some of my dearest friends, is doing amazing things for the Church in Western Canada. They have impacted my life deeply, and I know many young adults—including my sister Nicole and my brother Gregory—who have given a year or more of their life to work with them, and have come away on fire for their faith. Their missionary work has blessed many parishes, schools, and communities.

This fall we collaborated on a fundraiser!

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Studies » November 2017

I tend to go "all in" when I do a painting, furiously picking away at details until I am 100% happy with it, and thus leaving myself little room for carefree creativity. In fact, what you can find in my shop is the majority of the work I've done in the last two years. Only recently have I once again made a point of filling my sketchbook with drawings that no one but I will see, and leaving my paints out on my table so that I can return at any time to dab a few more strokes onto a board. It never ceases to amaze me how the hours slip away from me when I immerse myself in art for the sake of art.

This month I have been trying some new mediums and techniques and thought I would share some of the more, ah, presentable pieces.

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New! Saint Biographies

I hired my wonderfully talented sister Denise (Mallett) Pierlot to write up the biographies for the saints I've painted, and I have to say she did a phenomenal job. Their inspiring stories can be found under the "Biography" tab at the bottom of each product page. I will also be including a hard copy with each print that I sell. Please contact me if you would like to purchase bulk cards with a saint's image and bio!

You should check out her website, where you can find her blog and information about her incredible first book, The Tree. (Trust me, she's a way better writer than I am). And you should subscribe to her email list, so you can be the first to hear about her upcoming sequels!

Visit denisemallett.com »

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