Finding Faith in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”

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Dory & Marlin inside the whale

DORY: "He says, 'It's time to let go!'"

Am I really hearing and seeing signs from God everywhere these days, or am I crazy?
Even watching my daughter’s favorite movie with her these days, I find a message of faith.
Finding Nemo” is Rose’s favorite these days and we almost have the whole thing memorized. I come out of the kitchen to view my favorite parts: when the octopus squirts ink, when Bruce the shark makes his first ominous appearance, and when Marlin & Dory are in the belly of the whale.
The whale scene is where I noticed a profound reference to faith. Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks), Nemo’s dad, has battled the whole ocean trying to find his lost son. He literally bumps into a fish named Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) who becomes his partner throughout the film and they experience numerous adventures and predicaments. One predicament they find themselves in is getting swallowed by a whale (I can’t ignore the biblical reference there). Marlin has lost all hope at this point and believes he will never see his son again (what can one do in the belly of a whale, after all?). Dory is convinced she speaks whale, but Marlin doesn’t believe her. As the whale makes noises, Dory acts as interpreter. Dory tells Marlin the whale is telling them to go to the back of the throat. Marlin says, “Oh, yeah! Of course he wants that – that’s called eating us!” Frustrated the fish aren’t doing what he suggests, the whale lifts up his tongue to try forcing the fish to where they need to go. Dory lets go, but Marlin hangs on for dear life!

DORY: (interpreting) He says, ‘It’s time to let go!’ Everything’s going to be okay!

MARLIN: How do you know? How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?

DORY: I don’t!

Marlin pauses, closes his eyes and finally lets go… within seconds they are blasted out of the whale’s blowhole and safely delivered to the destination they’ve traveled so far to find.

There is SO much I love about this scene, but I’ll focus on one point.

TO ME: The whale represents God, of course.

The one point it might be easiest to miss in this scene is this: The whale didn’t just tell the fish where and when to let go. When the fish stubbornly refused, the whale lifts his tongue to PUSH them in the right direction.

The parallel I find in my own faith is that God not only opens doors of opportunity for us. I’ve experienced in my own life that if it’s important enough, God will also give us a push to say, “Come on, now. I’m serious!” Ultimately it is up to us to let go (that darned free will… we ARE stubborn, indeed, in our unwillingness to LET GO and LET GOD).

It reminds me of a little cartoon I drew in a letter to my mom one year when I was having a particularly tough time living the independent life away from home:

Sketchy doodle of God's struggle with me.

Sketchy doodle of God's struggle with me.

Good luck with whatever struggle you might be facing in your own life. You don’t have to try too hard to hear God speaking to you. He’s a whale of a god, after all — His voice is mighty. And with any luck you won’t need Dory as an interpreter.


  1. Joan Little (aka Mum)

    Great analogy! I’m going to try to print this so I can read it to the choir tonight!

    Love you!!!!!!!

    • wfedan

      So glad! I think this would make a great little Sunday school lesson, too. Pass it along to anyone you like!

  2. Gina

    It’s always a pleasure to “read you”. Thanks for writing it.
    Have a nice day :0)

  3. Deb

    I love that analogy, Wendy. I would love to share it with my pastor. He’d probably work it into a sermon.

    Thanks for your inspiration!

  4. Elroy

    I might use this in december this year.
    Im gonna preach about love for the youth of my town in The Netherlands!!
    Glad i found this

  5. gloriadelia

    I borrowed your picture for my blog, Gloriadelia, today. Thanks. Love your take on it, too. Will be reading more of your posts.


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