A December To Remember …
Most of us, if honest in the moment, would likely have little if any recollection as to our activities or whereabouts on December 9, 1965 . . if we were even present and accounted for on planet earth. But that December night for me is much like a groove in the hardest of rocks, nearly impervious to time and the elements, for that would be the night when family devotions, Sunday School and the world of animation collided into one inseparable ball of joy . . for that would be the night when the Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first premiered. That would be the first of many Decembers where Christmas truly only really began to feel like Christmas to this freckle-faced youngster once I empathized in my family living room yet again with the foibles, missteps and resolve of one fictitious cartoon character who was not so affectionately called “Blockhead”.
Fast-forward 50 years later to the November release of The Peanuts Movie and suddenly, almost out of nowhere, it feels as though an old friend has come home for a long visit This latest Peanuts creation unpacks a one hour, thirty minute reminder that life always seems to get very complicated for good ol’ Charlie Brown, the underdog of all underdogs. When the Little Red-Haired Girl moves into the neighborhood, Charlie Brown is stricken by the love bug. On a parallel track, his faithful sidekick Snoopy, experiences a fantasy adventure as a World War I flying ace in hot pursuit of his nemesis, the Red Baron, while also trying to win the affections of the head-turning pilot named Fifi. If you have not made your way to theaters yet, take a peek . . .
Only From The Mind of “Sparky” …
Ironically, Charles Schulz and I . . and about 49,000 other residents, would become neighbors of sorts in my favorite childhood hometown, Santa Rosa, California. Schulz became nearly if not more beloved in the community, particularly for building and often hanging out at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, than he already was by that time for producing an iconic cartoon tale that made it’s way to the front page of “The Funnies” in newspapers worldwide.
The Peanuts Movie is more than enough of an excuse for me to share my favorite Top 20 “Schulzisms” from the mind of Sparky (Charles’ most famous nickname) that made their way into the narrative around his highly lovable cast of characters:
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
“I love mankind … it’s people I can’t stand!!”
“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
“What’s the good of living if you don’t try a few things?”
“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong’.
Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.”
“This is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand.
The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high
because then you’ll start to feel better.
If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.”
“Try not to have a good time…this is supposed to be educational.”
“Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”
“Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?
I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves.
Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes.
I know what I need. I need more hellos.”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely.”
“Just thinking about a friend makes you want to do a happy dance,
because a friend is someone who loves you in spite of your faults.”
“Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.”
“Happiness is waking up, looking at the clock and finding that you still have two hours left to sleep.”
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”
“In the Book of Life, The answers aren’t in the back.”
“Be yourself. No one can say you’re doing it wrong.”
“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
“I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”
“I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.”
Just below the surface of the wit and wisdom of one very talented Charles M. Schulz was a curious lifelong spiritual quest for truth. You might even go so far as to conclude that Schulz, though influenced by Christ and Christianity early and often, became the personal embodiment of modern day pluralism which is little more than a set of philosophical beliefs that essentially tout that any and all religious – even non-religious roads – lead to God.
“God is for all people and loves all people
but that does not mean all roads lead to Him.”
– David “JB” Miller –
Perhaps even more curious is that Schulz’s “Peanuts” served as the primary inspiration for Robert Short’s book, “The Gospel According To Peanuts”, a heartwarming read that for millions worldwide has served as a modern-day guide to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, as Schulz’s own physical life approached it’s conclusion, he had apparently become a self-confessed secular humanist – essentially a man who believed one is capable of embracing the highest of Christian virtues and values while finding it unnecessary to receive a Christian “faith”.
Could it be that Charles M. Schulz’ own personal spiritual quest was little more than the oft repeated practice of “Panning for God”? You know, that self-engineered pursuit treasure in any and every stream of thought – a pursuit for spiritual status that merits God’s favor and eternal blessing minus one very critical letter – that would be the letter “L” . .the letter that acknowledges that Life must replace death and that the Lost must become found – the letter that acknowledges the need for a Romans 10:9 Lord who conquered all the consequences of sin including the grave.
The Gospel Not According To Peanuts …
Perhaps THE question for your 2015 holiday season is this: do you really want a God who needs our help, our ingenuity, our best effort to insure our salvation? Are you really willing to throw everything on the line for a Divine being who grades on the curve? Do you really possess the soul stamina needed for a lifetime of panning for God?
If you stop long enough to absorb a handful of critical God-breathed scriptures, you have to acknowledge that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both Inclusive and Exclusive.
God is for all people and loves all people but that does not mean all roads lead to Him any more than it means all roads lead to Santa Rosa, California. It is one thing to hear and acknowledge that “God our Savior . . wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4) but those who feel the need to spend a lifetime of panning for God resist the “narrowness” of the remainder of that verse which states that the same God wants us “to come to a knowledge of the truth”.
Panning for God will necessarily find an individual stuck on one of two fruitless mining expeditions . . and many times both:
1) Covering your bases with the latest religious philosophy du jour (spiritual insecurity) . . or/and
2) Believing and searching for “the truth” that is within (spiritual over-security)
For the spiritually insecure miner, God’s word proclaims . .
I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me
– John 14:6 –
For there is one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men
– 1 Timothy 2:5 –
For the spiritually over-secure miner, God’s word proclaims . .
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
– Galatians 6:3 –
There is no one righteous, not even one…there is no one who does good, not even one.
– Romans 3: 10, 12 –
A Charlie Brown Christmas
I had no clue at the age of 5 that a Christmas cartoon was a representation of man’s spiritual search that was so close to Christ, yet so far. Before “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was given a television green light, network executives expressed strong hesitation about the scene involving Linus reciting the story of Christ’s birth. Yet, in a recent documentary about the making of the program, Charles Schulz was quoted as saying, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” The scene remained as follows . .
Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?
Linus van Pelt: “Sure Charlie Brown – I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
Lights please . .
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flocks by night, and lo the angel of the Lord came upon them
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid,
and the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, tis Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
You just might want to pull up a chair to this December’s airing of this timeless treasure . . and when you do, you might want to take notice of the very moment when Linus lets go of his “security blanket”.
Then might be as good a time as any to ask, “Have i let go of mine?” When you do, you will forevermore dispense with the fruitless exercise of . .
. . panning for God.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
– Romans 10:9 –
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