Power to Change

The Adventures of Pinocchio was written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi, an Italian writer. The story begins in a village near the city of Florence, where a woodcarver named Geppetto, made a wooden marionette which he called Pinocchio. The puppet became animated and Pinocchio turned out to be a rascally rogue whose nose grew when he acted disobediently. [This is different from the Disney version where his nose only grows when lying.] Pinocchio is reproved throughout the story for a lack of moral character and a refusal to take any responsibility for any of his actions. Geppetto would like Pinocchio to work, be good, and study, like a good boy should do. But Pinocchio continually gets himself in trouble and his nose keeps on growing larger. The Fairy with the Turquoise Hair offers Pinocchio a chance to become a real boy if he can change his life to act better and be responsible for his actions. Following the pattern of many literary heroes, Pinocchio descends into hell, has a transformation, and is reborn into a new life, similar to the Christian narrative of the Christ. At the end of the adventures Pinocchio becomes willing to provide for Geppetto and begin a life of work, being good, and studying, like a good boy should do. Therefore, the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair turns Pinocchio into a real boy. It is a story of moral transformation through personal growth.

In the Disney version the fairy [now named the Blue Fairy] says to Pinocchio, “You will only be a real boy once you have proved yourself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish.” To achieve this metamorphosis Pinocchio will need some guidance. In the original story, an unnamed minor character of the novel, a talking cricket, gave some advice to Pinocchio. In the Disney movie Jiminy Cricket [who is really a grasshopper] becomes his comical and wise conscience due to the help of the Blue Fairy. Pinocchio ignores all of Jiminy’s advice and paying for his sins is transformed into a donkey. But then Pinocchio drowns in the act of saving Geppetto from Monstro the whale and thereby proving himself brave, truthful, and unselfish. The Blue Fairy raises Pinocchio from the dead and turns him into a real flesh and blood boy because Pinocchio has had a moral transformation.

The original book and the Disney movie both imply that eventually a good conscience with personal growth can lead into a transformed life. Jiminy Cricket, the conscience of Pinocchio, is a “minced oath” for Jesus Christ. A minced oath is an expression derived by misspelling, mispronouncing blasphemous or swear words to become less objectionable in social contexts. Some examples are; gosh, darn, fudge. Jiminy Cricket [J.C.] really stands for Jesus Christ [J.C.]. One popular view of Jesus Christ is as a conscience to guide the moral life. If you pay attention to J.C. eventually you will transform your life into having a good moral character. Therefore attending a Christian Church to hear the teachings and life of Jesus Christ helps guide your conscience and forms you into being a “good boy.”

Unfortunately, a conscience does not have the power to change the moral character of a person. The message of the Church is that transformation starts with a changed heart, something a conscience cannot provide. But Jesus Christ can change hearts which leads into a moral transformation guided by the Spirit of God. Without the heart change, there is no real life change, there is no personal growth. Jesus Christ is much more than a good conscience. Going to church is much more than getting good advice.