Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dr. Seuss the Calvinist

After watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas for
the umpteenth time, an idea spawned in my mind. At first it was subtle, but it grew full-blown during the catchy tune that maligned Mr. Grinch:

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul. Mr. Grinch.

It was staring me in the face: Dr. Seuss was a Calvinist. I mean the ol’ run-of-the-mill, down-in-the-mouth, pessimistic Cal-vin-ist. Who could write such black and bleak lyrics besides Calvin himself?

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch.

Wow. Have any of the viewers noticed how depraved Dr. Seuss paints Mr. Grinch? Such words would easily drain the most populace meetings of Joel Osteen! What church listener could stomach such a description of mankind?

Your soul is an appalling dump heap
overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment
of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

Any well-read Christian would certainly applaud such a description as in line with such well-known passages as Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Or more famously Romans 3:10ff.: “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips.”

It appears that we have some good literature for clandestine evangelism.

But it is not to be.

Too many Christians take persons, book, & quotes out of context. This is such a case. Obviously, Dr. Seuss is not a Calvinist. In fact, this poem is illuminating. What is offensive about Mister Grinch is not any act done in rebellion to God; it is what he has done against mankind:

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel. Mr. Grinch.

Charm and cuddliness are not necessarily fruits of the Spirit. However, in the movie they reflect those essential elements of civil religion, a kinder, gentler secularism. Be nice to your neighbor; love everyone; demand nothing; be generous with other people’s tax money. These are the fruits of the Christmas Spirit.

Already in the 1950s Christmas was being neutered. Since the churches in America as a whole were theologically effeminate, proclaiming a Santa Claus god to their parishioners, it was inevitable that such a view of the birth of Christ would arise.

Too often Americans forget that those who shape ideas shape culture. Many attended church back then and many do so today. But what are they hearing? What are they tithing their hard earned money towards? It is certainly not to hear bleak pronouncements about mankind—unless it is in line with Dr. Seuss.

If one were to describe mankind in moral terms akin to the poem on, say, a radio talk show, the ratings would bottom out. Listening to the likes of Hannity, Hewitt and Medved impressing the mind with fuzzy good feelings of a commonality rooted in a vanilla Christianity offends no one except the Left (and only because its from the Right).

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas stole the hearts of millions of Americans. It taught them that Christ was irrelevant and humans can spontaneously regenerate themselves unto goodness.

There is no Gospel offense in Christmas anymore—unless it someone who is acting like a Grinch.


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