(a reflection submitted to the Saint Ignatius faculty on October 21, 2005)


The Magis Kingdom


Milton Alan Turner


Over a decade ago, my wife and I took a bus tour of the city of Anaheim, CA.  Our guide had previously worked at Disneyland and gave many details about the inner workings of “The Magic Kingdom.”  Nothing at the resort is accidental.  The “magic” is entirely by design. The paint used on the exteriors of every building contains flakes of gold so that the sunshine reflects off of everything in a way like few other places on Earth.  There are no employees—everyone is a “cast member.”  Everyone, from those singing and dancing, to those cooking and serving, and those sweeping up chewing gum and cigarette butts, is a performer whose primary job is to maintain the illusion of “the Happiest Place on Earth.”  Our guide even described the park’s elaborate system of tunnels and hidden passages.  If a “guest” is injured, they are expeditiously taken into a fake tree or behind a cardboard backdrop and transported through this system to another location where they can discreetly receive medical attention because ambulances and misfortune are not to be seen or heard in Frontierland or on Main Street, U.S.A. 


Creating this “magic” takes a Herculean effort by all of the cast members and an equally extraordinary amount of coordination and support.  The amazing thing is that Disney continues to do it after 50 years.  In fact, while visiting Walt Disney World last year, I was told that the company’s biggest challenge was living up to its own success.  Millions of guests arrive every year with outrageously high expectations of having a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the cast is charged with not only meeting, but exceeding.  Incredibly, they do still rise to this challenge, but inevitably on some occasions they fall short.  Some have criticized that they are beginning to believe their own illusion and think that a guest’s mere presence in “The Magic Kingdom” is enough for an unforgettable experience to create itself.


I hope that we at Saint Ignatius never take for granted the incredible effort and collaboration it has taken to form so many “Men for Others.”  I hope that our past successes coupled with our continued optimism and faith in tomorrow’s leaders never blind us to current realities thus preventing us from properly identifying injustice.  I further hope that our students and their families continue to realize that becoming intellectually competent, open to growth, loving, religious, and committed to doing justice requires not only work on our part, but on their part as well. They cannot be led to believe that, for just the price of admission, they can enter in to a place like no other, be herded through some cleverly designed turnstiles, sit back and relax for a four-year ride (keeping their arms safely inside at all times, please!) and at the end of the day exit having acquired those characteristics and knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ.  I pray that the descriptors of the Grad at Grad and A.M.D.G. never become meaningless refrains looping endlessly, numbingly, in the background like “It’s A Small World After All.”  I pray that we never become “The Magis Kingdom.”