Many will no doubt find The Secret Life of Bees, a new film which opened in theaters this month, to be a heart-warming, endearing movie, but behind the outward storyline lies a New Age theme and a spiritually dangerous sting.
The film is based on former Guideposts contributor Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling book, The Secret Life of Bees. Monk Kidd, once a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher, now worships the goddess Sophia (a New Age, mystical concept of “God”). Her new spirituality began to take form when she started reading Thomas Merton. From there she started practicing eastern meditation and eventually moved into the Divine Feminine/goddess-within camp.
The Fox Searchlight film has woven within its seams the representation of the Black Madonna. Most viewers will have no idea what the Black Madonna stands for. Monk Kidd discusses her role:
As I began the novel, I wanted the driving impetus in Lily’s life [the girl in the film/book] to be the search for home and for her mother. But clearly in the back of mind, I knew there was a less tangible, more symbolic search for home and mother that needed to take place: a coming home to herself and the discovery of the mother within. I knew Lily would have to find an undreamed of strength, and that she would do it the same way the powerful black women around her did it – through the empowerment of a divine feminine presence, in this case a Black Mary.1
In Larry DeBruyn’s expose of the best-selling novel, The Shack, he discusses New Age Episcopal priest Matthew Fox’s Black Madonna (much like Monk Kidd’s Madonna):
Fox’s description of the Black Madonna (or the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as she is alternately understood) included her supposed leading of distressed people to find emotional healing within themselves.
Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well)….The Black Madonna calls us to our Divinity which is also our Creativity. First, our Divinity. Because she is a goddess, the Black Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of creation. She calls us inside, into the “kingdom/queendom of God” where we can co-create with Divinity and feel the rush of Divinity’s holy breath or spirit.
In Monk Kidd’s book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, she elaborates on the theme of the goddess dwelling in everything when she states:
Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly … It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river, in excrement and roses alike.(p. 160)
In her book, When the Heart Waits, Monk Kidd’s spirituality is spelled out clearly when she explains:
There’s a bulb of truth buried in the human soul [everyone] that’s only God … the soul is more than something to win or save. It’s the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the God-image, the truest part of us. (pp. 47-48)
The cast of the Bees movie was on Oprah earlier this month, and, as always when Oprah promotes a movie or a book, millions of women will be drawn to this story because of that promotion. But before ladies buy those theater tickets with the hopes of spending a girl’s night out with daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends, they should keep in mind that they will be exposing themselves and their loved ones to a subtle but dangerous spiritual message and a sting that could have far-reaching effects.
THE SHACK, “Elousia,” & the Black Madonna
See A Time of Departing for more on Sue Monk Kidd.