Saturday, April 12, 2008

Russell Moore on Charles Schultz

Russell Moore from Southern Seminary has posted a perceptive article on Charles Schulz, titled "You're A Lost Soul, Charlie Brown." In the article, Moore reviews the book "Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography" by David Michaelis.

Sadly, life for the Peanuts creator was not as idyllic as his fictional characters might suggest. After serving in World War II, Schulz immersed himself in the Church of God community and seemed to have been influenced in his lifestyle by the Christian ethic. However, as he began his cartooning career, this influence began to wane and he gradually declined into a Godless despair. Moore writes:

"Unlike Schulz's view of comic strips--they should never have an ultimately unhappy ending--the end of Schulz's life was the capstone of his despair. The man who, like Charlie Brown, always feared that no one could truly love him, died, in the words of another cartoonist, 'angry at God, angry with friends, angry with fate--angry [about] all the troubles he could never let go of.' This fellow artist concludes: 'He had control over the [ Peanuts] universe for fifty years, but he had no control over his death. He didn't accept it graciously. He wasn't ready.'"

Schulz' despair need not be the final word. Moore admonishes us to learn from it and love those who are gasping for hope:

"That kind of vanity, that kind of despair, is found all around us, even next to us in the pew. This book is a sober call to us to remember, to pray for, and to love those especially who will never believe they can be loved."

This is the kind of love the world needs. We have all settled for cheap replacements. Hobbies. Facebook friends. Grades. Buffets. Jokes. Visa cards. They are caves of futility if they become our gods. Real love comes through blood, spikes, and splintered timber:

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

May God grant us to drink deep from this love and pass the cup to others.

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