The Grinch that Stole Just About Everything

Posted: December 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

GrinchThe famed story by Dr. Seuss, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, was first made into a movie in 1966. Later, in 2000, its remake hit the cinematic streets. And that one, with Jim Carrey in the role of the miserable Grinch, is the one that appears every Christmas season as a part of our permanent movie menu.

I just watched it, last night, in fact. Dr. Seuss may have written children’s books, and of course he did, but like any good spinner of tales his craft carried deep into adult concerns as well. The older we get, the more we get them. The Grinch is no exception. As a parallel to Dickens’ Scrooge, the Grinch – isolated, damaged, pathetic – is envious of those who have joy. And Christmas is the ultimate salt in his wound. If he can undo Christmas he may be able to strike a fatal blow to those who are not isolated, damaged and pathetic. He tries, and comes very near to doing so, but the resiliency of the human spirit resists and transcends anything he might do to scuttle Christmas. That, and the love of a child for him as he is, breaks his self-destructive shell, and his heart is warmed.

Again, as an adult, I engage with such allegories and parables differently than I did as a child. Why? Because of life experience. Now I know the story of the human heart and history that led to creation of the story itself. Like many of you, I nod in understanding, laugh at myself and the way we are right along with every observation of the plot.

One of the most remarkable examples in my own life took place in church. If you want to find a place where the very best and very worst often coexist it might be there. With the passing of years I am able to look back and look at this episode like I might a chapter in the Grinch. Time graces us with an objectivity we might not have at the moment.

Once upon a time and long way away, there was a church that had its annual stewardship campaign. The whole village of church people were excited about the future and what was happening, all except a very sad and hurtful Grinch who gathered as many other sad and hurtful people around him. Just as the rest of the village was singing and making merry, he made the rounds by personal visits and phone calls to conduct an anti-campaign. If only we can steal their success we can undermine the future, said he.

Slowly, people in the village started sharing that the Grinch had contacted them and asked them not to give, not to pledge. They were surprised that he would try to hurt the church as a way to achieve his Grinch-like ways. Because many people are impressionable and easily manipulated, he convinced a number of people to join him. It was not many, but at least one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. But something strange happened.

That year the pledge campaign was stronger than ever, even without the support of the Grinch and those who had attempted to scuttle it. The people in the village looked at one another and said, “I guess if God wants it done God wants it done.” And they went about making merry. The Grinch and his band were very angry that their scheming came to such an end and made other plans to undermine the village because they were so sad and damaged. They would continue to damage because they were so damaged themselves. And so the story went on. Some continued to hurt and others were redeemed by the joy of the village and love that crept back into their brittle souls.

Thank you Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, The Gospel of Luke and … you, Mr. Grinch!

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