Good Grief! More Thoughts on Charlie Brown and Culture Wars

by:  Godsbooklover

by: Godsbooklover

My brother wrote about our mutual favorite holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, a couple of days ago.   Since he’s away for the weekend, I thought I’d throw in my two cents on why I love this program (which is nearly as old as I am) so much…


He has a round head and a knobby nose, his dog wins more contests than he ever will, and even his friends all call him a loser. He talks through a megaphone but no one listens to him.  And when he chooses a “sincere” Christmas tree, everybody laughs. know I’m not eccentric or even unusual in naming A Charlie Brown Christmas as my all-time favorite televised holiday special.  I was probably six or seven when I saw it for the first time.  Having followed the Sunday Peanuts strip since before I could read, the characters felt to me like old friends.  Watching the annual telecast became one of my most-anticipated Christmas rituals.

Snoopy was hilarious, Lucy was exasperating and Linus both wise and kind. But Charlie Brown’s inept sincerity was painful to watch. He made me weep.  I so wanted him to be taken seriously.  Even at that young age I knew the misery of being misunderstood and the frustration of failure.  If you’d asked me, I’d have told you my favorite superhero was Underdog…really.

I got chills the first time Linus stood in the spotlight and spoke the words of Luke 2 into the empty auditorium.  And when the Peanuts started to sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” after beautifying Charlie Brown’s tree, I burst into tears. a child, it was the loving gesture of decorating his tree, transforming it, that moved me. As an adult, what speaks to me is the larger act of restoration: a community restoring a brother, reviving a broken life.  I understand now that the tree is a metaphor for the boy himself, awkward, unwanted, unappreciated. When the unlovely is made lovely, Charlie is affirmed.

Jesus came to seek and save the unlovely (that’s all of us).  His love has restored our broken lives.  And He has made us ministers of reconciliation.  We are transformed so that we can take part in His ongoing work of transformation.  Is there a Charlie Brown in your life?  Is there a tiny tree that can be restored and made lovely this Christmas?

When we look at our unlovely world, it overwhelms us.  But look at your own family, neighborhood, workplace, church.  Where can you be about the Lord’s work of reconciling lives to Him, restoring faith and hope, reviving love?

6 responses to “Good Grief! More Thoughts on Charlie Brown and Culture Wars

  1. livinrightinpgh

    JTR has written a great deal lately regarding the problems of “culture” and its manifestation in our society.

    While immorality has been around a LONG time, IMHO, you can clearly see the decline of American society in the concerted effort to remove all aspects of God from society. Christian beliefs are portrayed as archaic and “out of touch”, morality is a moving target based on the situation, etc.

    If we want to TRULY affect a cultural change, it’s going to need to begin with a return to Faith.

    • Exactly right, PGH. And that begins with each of us who rub shoulders with unbelievers. We need to pray that we can allow our personal faith to be both winsome and relevant, while not missing opportunities to speak difficult truths in love. Everyone needs to know that their own tree is “pathetic”…but how and when you say that is crucial.

  2. You know, the Charlie Brown Christmas was so good. And you’re right: when Linus began to quote Luke, the Christmas story, quietly, but clearly in the dark, I was stunned. When I see it again I am still stunned.

    I read somewhere, recently, that Schultz waged a battle over that cartoon. He wanted it to stay as it was with Linus quoting the Christmas story. Others wanted it out of there. I’m so glad Charles Schultz won.

    • Go back and read JTR’s post from two days ago. He tells a bit of the story, and links to a longer article which gives more details. I had never known this before. Amazing just how obtuse those TV execs can be…Certainly I can’t imagine that special without that moment!

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