Rango: What’s in a Name?

Posted: September 4, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Action, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Johnny Depp is an incredible actor. His skill and creativity has given us some wacky characters. Some of my favorite include Willy Wonka, Edward Scissorhands, and, of course, Captain Jack Sparrow. After last week, I have a new Johnny Depp character to add to my list…Rango.

Rango is the story of a lonely lizard thespian lost in a desert land. This floral-shirt-wearing reptile is not only lost geographically, however. Truth be told, Rango has lost himself – his life is nothing more than an act. Rango isn’t even his name.

After wandering around the barren desert in search of water, this lonely lizard finds his way to the small town of Dirt where the local “Dirtonians” are suffering from a severe water shortage. To escape the threat of a gang of local thugs, our lizard friend creates the rough and tough character, Rango. When he saves the day as this newly created tough guy, the mayor of the city of Dirt makes him the sheriff. His new job is to serve and protect the city, which includes what is left of their water supply.

In many ways, this film is like other animated stories – full of great (and odd) characters, funny lines, and plenty of animated action. Rango, however, goes a bit deeper with the storyline. Rango is spiritual journey…a story for those thirsty to find meaning. Rango the reptile is in search of himself – desiring to find his purpose…his calling in the vast world.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)

One of the strangest, but most interesting scene takes place after the townsfolk finds out that Rango is a sham – living a lie. When the trusting “Dirtonians” realize that Rango has played them for fools, they cast him out of the town to wander the desert again. Embarrassed and distraught, Rango hits the road. It is at this point, that he discovers “The Spirit of the West.” Rango has a philosophical, Zen-Buddist-like conversation with…yep, you guess it…Clint Eastwood. (I said it was strange.) You can watch the scene below.

“It doesn’t matter what they call ya’…its the deeds make the man…”

Clint’s simple, yet profound advice is problematic from a biblical worldview. That is not to say that his profundity completely misses the mark. It is true that “the deeds make the man” – if you mean that your deeds reveal your character. “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright” (Proverbs 20:11). Our deeds do matter…but they do not ultimately make us who we are. Our deeds – like our hearts – are fickle (Jeremiah 17:9). They cannot be trusted. After all, Rango did many good deeds in the city of Dirt, but he was a liar and a fraud.

With all due respect to Clint, his wise words are far from wise because from a biblical perspective, “what they call ya'” matters most of all. A Christian finds his or her identity in their new name – “Child of God.”

Every human being can call God “Creator,” but not every human being can call him “Father.” This new status comes only through relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who profess faith in Christ receive a new identity – real purpose on earth. It is this new name that defines us. The apostle John said it this way,

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ” (John 1:12).

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” (1 John 3:1).

The doctrine of “Adoption” is one of the most precious gospel truths. I praise God that at the end of the day – despite my imperfect and inconsistent deeds – my identity…my purpose…my life is found in the fact that I am called “Child of God.”


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