The Walt Disney Company has unveiled its plans for its new theme park in Hong Kong-a perfect reproduction of Disneyland-well, not exactly "a perfect reproduction." Changes had to be made after Disney consulted with a feng shui master.
The front page of the New York Times business section reports that a specific redesign was necessary to form a perfect twelve-degree angle "to ensure prosperity." Another walkway is being redesigned to create an angle that will keep positive chi, that is, "life energy," from flowing into the sea. In addition, "Disney burns incense ritually as each building is finished," and it "picked a lucky day" for the opening.
I don't know how much of this is being done to placate the oriental mind-this is, after all, an Asian theme park. But I can't imagine the local visitors asking if the park had been designed according to feng shui or if incense was being properly burned.
All of this, of course, is going on at a time when Christians are being blasted for being oppressive, bringing religion into public life, and making demands on the Congress. And the press is not very charitable to us. Columnist Gary Wills after the last election wondered what kind of a country this is where a majority of the people believes in such "myths" as the virgin birth.
But at the same time we find hard-headed, profit-conscious businessmen--the executives at Disney--spending hard-earned money for a feng shui expert to come in and tell them the way in which they ought to arrange the buildings to bring about good luck. This does not seem to bother Gary Wills or our cultural elite.
All of this would be comical if it were not so utterly absurd. Disney is catering to superstitions and the local, sensitive Buddhist culture.
So to Christians in this country Disney says, "In your face. We're not going to pay any attention to you." But for Disneyland in Hong Kong, it redesigns the whole theme park "to ensure prosperity" based on a kooky Eastern fad. I just can't bring these two points of view together.
I know we're supposed to be politically correct. And we are supposed to respect everybody's ideas and preferences and beliefs and treat them all alike. Well, this kind of tolerance is causing Disney to embrace superstitions overseas, but when it comes to the majority religion here in America, we are oppressors-we are not entitled to anything.
"Heeding the advice of a feng shui consultant," says the Times, "is one of many steps Disney executives have taken at the park to reflect the local culture-and to make sure they do not repeat some mistakes of the past." Well, maybe it ought to take a good hard look at the mistakes it is continuing to make in Florida and California.