Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Charlie Brown had it right!

On  December 9, 1965, CBS launched "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  I always enjoyed watching the short 30 minute cartoon as child so I thought I would re-watch the episode on ABC last night.  ABC took over the television rights beginning in 2001.  Although the show is nearly 50 years old, it would do people of all ages a service to watch it for the first time or to watch it again. 

Despite our postmodernity, this cartoon remains applicable in our time --- in ways, I must admit that I did not even realize until watching the replay.  So let me take some time to break down this show and relate it to where and how we are living today.  Charlie Brown is suffering from a mental illness, depression.  He can't figure out why he cannot enjoy Christmas and pays Lucy 5 cents for psychiatric help at the local booth.  It surprised me to see that the word "psychiatric" appeared in this 1965 show.

Though mental illnesses have rapidly increased and are now experienced by 1 out of every 5 Americans, they were not nonexistent in 1965.  Doctor Lucy mentions all kinds of phobias that Charlie Brown may be experiencing and at last mentions that maybe he just has a fear of everything.  Though Charlie Brown payed the doctor for his visit, he left unsatisfied (sound familiar). 

Charlie finds his free answer to his struggles when his friend Linus tells Charlie at play practice what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.  You can watch the 2 minute video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA.  Linus actually quotes Luke 2:8-14.  Charlie Brown had it right.  Christmas isn't about secularization, commercialism, or materialism.  It's about the simple gospel answer that was provided to us in swaddling cloths. 

Perhaps you know some individuals who are depressed and can't enjoy the Christmas season.  Will you be like Linus, a true friend, and share the real reason for the season.  The show ends with a Charlie Brown greeting and a hymn that all the kids sing together, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King." 

Children and Adults used to get out more and sing hymns like this to the community during the Christmas season.  Yes, times have changed and door to door visits do not take place like they did 30 years ago due to safety concerns, etc.  But maybe we should look into the mirror and call a spade a spade.  Maybe rather than saying times have changed, we should say our hearts have changed.  Are you compelled out of God's love for you to tell the world what He has done for you?  If so, and especially in a free country like the one we live in, a door won't seem like such a big obstacle. 

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