Apologies to those of you who received the “You’re a Good Man, Charles Schulz” blog two weeks in a row. I’m still learning the WordPress way of doing things and temporarily posted this blog immediately rather than scheduling it for the next week. To quote Charlie Brown, “Good grief!” Bill
I miss Charlie Brown and the gang. The antics of the Peanuts’ cartoon characters created joyful moments of laughter for many. When Charles Schulz died in 2000, the whole world grieved. Today the Sunday funny papers continue to carry reruns of the famous comic strip in Schulz’s honor.
Peanuts first appeared in syndicated form on October 2, 1950. The comic strip eventually ran in more than 2,600 newspapers across 75 countries. The characters are instantly recognizable around the world. Charlie Brown’s “Good griefs,” Snoopy’s flights of fancy, and Lucy’s crabbiness touched something deep inside us all.
I am a lifelong Peanuts fan. I followed the comic strip before I could read, begging my parents to help me with the words. The first 33 rpm record I ever owned was Snoopy Versus the Red Baron by the Royal Guardsmen. (For younger generations, record albums were vinyl discs played at thirty-three revolutions per minute on a record player—ask your parents.)
The holidays are not complete at our house without the traditional viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus’ retelling of the Christ’s birth is a sacred moment in a secular medium. I also continue to enjoy It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at Halloween. While all the other kids receive candy, Charlie Brown forlornly reports: “I got a rock!”
Charles Schulz is my favorite theologian. He taught me more about life and faith than all of my professors in seminary combined. Charlie Brown and the gang wrestled with soul challenging issues like good, evil, faith, doubt, heaven, hell, generosity, and meanness.
Robert Short even wrote a bestseller entitled The Gospel According to Peanuts. The book inspired a host of other titles that began with The Gospel According to . . . . I don’t recommend Mr. Short’s theology, but the comic strips are great!
The memories are priceless: Charlie Brown battling the kite-eating tree, Lucy offering psychiatric help at the lemonade stand for five cents per session, Linus dragging around his security blanket, Snoopy taking to the sky in a Sopwith Camel dog house, Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch, and the cute little red headed girl filling Charlie Brown’s dreams.
I do have some regrets. In a world that ended And they lived happily ever after, Linus would finally meet the Great Pumpkin on Halloween night. Snoopy would get the Red Baron in his sights. Lucy and Schroeder would grow up, get married, and have children, and Linus would finally fall in love with Sally.
In a perfect world, Charlie Brown would have pitched a no hitter and led his team to a Little League championship. On Valentine’s Day, his mailbox would be filled with cards. In the fall, he would kick Lucy’s football half a mile. At the school dance, he would have kissed the little red haired girl.
He never got to do any of these things; but he never gave up. The “blockhead” with the thorn emblazoned tee-shirt got up every time he fell. Although Charlie Brown always lost, he never became a loser. Instead, he represented the child still alive in each of us.
I am thankful that Charlie Brown and Snoopy did not die with their creator. The things they taught me as a child continue to be impressed upon a new generation. These are invaluable lessons worth repeating.
The Bible reveals that the Lord’s prophets come in a surprising variety of shapes and sizes. Most of them have little to commend them from a human perspective for divine work. Yet the Almighty possesses a knack for calling the least, last, and lost for his purposes. The one thing these men and women share in common is a burning desire to proclaim God’s Word.
Prophets abound outside the pages of Scripture. They live at the intersection of God’s Word and our world. In grace filled moments, the transcendent becomes incarnate in their words.
The Lord certainly possesses a sense of humor, and I have no doubt he delighted in each member of the Peanuts’ gang. The little round headed kid along with his hound of heaven revealed to us eternal truths.
You’re a good man, Charles Schulz. You’re God’s man.