Jim Boeheim and Joe Paterno
What We Learn From Earthquakes

Who's Messing with Charlie Brown's Christmas!?

Two dogs are pecking away on their keyboards, very intense. One says to the other, with much enthusiasm, “On the internet, no one knows you're a dog!” Yeah! That's the trouble with the internet. You never quite know where anything is coming from.  A laureate or a liar? A psalmist or a sorehead? A philanthropist or a philanderer? It's hard to tell. Maybe that's why Awake! is....shall we say...reserved in it's endorsement of the online world, even citing that old New Yorker cartoon about the dogs.

 
However, I spotted a dog on the internet when nobody else did, so I'm unusually full of myself these days....even though 'pride comes before a fall.' I spotted the dog, and now I'm going to put a muzzle on it, or at least try to.


Someone sent me a Peanuts strip from 1965,  a strip that's all over the internet lately. They thought I would agree with the caption....and in fact, I do. But I also smelled a rat. See if you can, too.

 Peanuts christmas strip    altered
Okay. Got it? A little anti-Christmas, wouldn't you say? Now, you may (or may not) agree with the wording here, but it sure doesn't ring true to what Charles Shultz was about, does it? Would he really have authored such a strip? I don't think so. Even though Linus is indeed a know-it-all windbag, even though he does quote scripture from time to time, even though he is well-versed on theological things. But it doesn't fit.  So I poked around some. It took a while, but I found the source of the smell. The strip has been doctored! In the  enlarged frame, those first two speech bubbles are genuine, but the last one has been modified. Here's the original:

 

Peanuts christmas    original

Now, I don't think Charles Shultz would like this. Bitten by one of the dogs on the internet! You ought to be able to write your own comic strip without some smug little snot of a propogandist replacing your words with his. You understand, I don't have a problem with the modified words in themselves. What they say is not untrue. It's attributing them to Shultz that burns me up, because he would never have penned such a thing. Write your own strip! Rejection of Christmas on account of it's non-Christian origin may ring true with us, but religious folk in general have no problem with it. Part of our 'rich diversity,' and all.

If you use someone's work as underpinning to your own, you keep the two separate. It's not only ethical to do that, it's also practical. Your whole case crumbles when someone spots that you've built upon a fraud. Don't do it. Go out of your way to make clear you don't do it. Just like when the Watchtower used to quote  evolutionists saying things that undermined their own dogma...I mean, they were perfectly accurate quotes...but then grousers would accuse us of misrepresenting those luminaries, so the Watchtower took to pointing out, whenever using so-and-so's words, that these folks nonetheless believed in their own theories...they weren't jumping ship to endorse creation. I don't think it was necessary, but I appreciate why they did it: to avoid even the appearance of misrepresentation. (It didn't satisfy the grousers, however)


Or when the translators of the New World Translation refused to translate Ps 22:16 as “they have pierced my hands and feet” even though they agreed such a rendering would perfectly fit Christ Jesus' role. They refused to do it because the underlying manuscript evidence was dubious. Few other translations had such scruples. Whatever you do, do it honestly. Don't fudge facts to fit your agenda.

Although, having said that.... I can think of one exception. Nothing's absolute. For the life of me I cannot condemn Nick Regalia for altering the work of another when he first became a JW. See, Nick was trying to clean up his life at the time, so he drew bathing suits on all the posters of naked women at his workplace! Lemme tell you, he was none too popular for a while. Of course, this was many years ago. Today, he'd be doing those artists a favor, saving their jobs, probably, since sexual harassment laws will get you into a lot of hot water now and displays of porn can easily trigger them.

But Charles Shultz didn't do porn. He did Peanuts. And Peanuts was (and is) one of my favorite strips. So if someone sends you that phony strip, send it right back with the notation that it's a fraud. You can't undo matters completely. Once toothpaste is out of the tube, you just can't put it back it. It remembers how tight it was in there, and it just won't go. But we can at least be on the right side of the fray.

Now.....who might have done such a thing....altering Shultz's work to paste in his own anti-Christmas tirade? Oh please please please.....let it not be one of our people! We might forward the strip to our pals, thinking it's genuine. How would a person know? But...no....don't let it be that one of ours originated it. I don't think anyone would, we don't usually stoop to such tricks, but.....um...well....I mean...........look, there's nothing about Bible teachings or JW beliefs that make a person fanatical or unbalanced. There isn't. Bible teachings, when applied, mold a person for good. However, if you already have an unbalanced fanatical bent to your personality, then you've found a home among us. Overbearing excess will be chalked up to commendable zeal, and even though your fellow brothers may roll their eyes a bit, they'll put up with it, knowing that, most likely, you'll balance out eventually. So I was a little worried that some brother might have done this, probably some firebrand kid.

Ahhhh.....good! It's not us. It's some 'Jews for Jesus' type character, as near as I can tell. Here's the site. Note how he admits, in fact even boasts about, changing that last panel. Now, the next step is, if it lands in your inbox, send it back.

The reason I smelled a rat is because I knew that Charles Shultz was not against Christmas. And 1965....the date of that strip? That's the year that the first of many Charlie Brown Christmas specials was released on television. I remember the program. That's why it's good to have some years on you. No young person could be expected to spot this fraud. But an old buzzard like me, who's been around awhile, can nail it, and I did!

In fact, I begin to suspect that even the strip I took as original, from which that bastardized phony strip was derived......even that strip is a fraud. I snared one dog on the internet, only to find a whole pack of them is on the loose! I'm not sure, but I suspect it. Alas, I have to leave it to someone else to figure that one out, preferably someone with one of those monstrous anthologies of Charlie Brown comic strips and the time required to comb through every page. It's not easy catching dogs, and for now I'm content with one.


I suspect the "original" is also phony because, in that 1965 Christmas special, windbag Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas to poor Charlie Brown, and he does it merely by quoting scripture! Luke 2:8-14. Those are verses about Jesus' birth. He doesn't say anything at all about 1) Jesus wasn't born on that day, 2) Jesus never said anything about celebrating his birth, anyway, or 3) the customs associated with with the celebration of Christmas all stem from non-Christian roots. Peanuts creator Charles Shultz gravitated to the sentimental traditional meaning of Christmas, period. The other stuff didn't bother him. And both the strips I've reproduced are set as in a show production, with stage curtain as backdrop.....as if satirizing a television production!

Yeah!! I'm hot on the scent now! But I'm also worn out. That first dog took a lot out of me. The bitch bit me bad as I tried to muzzle it!! So I'm just going to lay out what I have here as a work in progress, for now, and pursue the rest in an upcoming post.

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Comments

Juan

Tom:

Has not God through Christ defeated paganism? The God of Israel is known worldwide and belief in his Son is affirmed by nearly half of the globe's population.

So if Christ has defeated paganism, would not the celebration of Christmas be, in fact, a remembrance of that victory? In other words, Christian can accept the pagan roots of Christmas but 'Christianize them,' as it were because we acknowledge the Lord's victory of them. (Romans 14:5-6, "One [man] judges one day as above another; another [man] judges one day as all others; let each [man] be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it to Jehovah.")

ChrisL

@Juan: The counsel at Romans 14 is not applicable in this case. There, Paul is addressing conscience issues that Christians face in day-to-day life. "Christianizing" a pagan practice would not fall into that category! It is God's view of paganism that is paramount, not ours. If He declares it unclean, surely we cannot decide otherwise? There is a clear example of this at Exodus 32:1-8. The Israelites tried to mix an unclean pagan practice with their worship, and even went so far as to include it in a "festival to the LORD" (NIV). Note God's reaction at Exo 32:7:

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt."

Far from accepting their attempt to "cleanup" a pagan practice, God declared them to be "corrupt"! So do not be deceived by claims of "Christianizing" what God has said is unclean. See also 1 Cor 10:20-21 and 2 Cor 6:14-17

tom sheepandgoats

Juan:

If we are trying to make God in our image, then I agree with you. The paganism was long ago, the tree is pretty, the lights are bright, the children are happy.

But if we're trying to make ourselves in God's image, then we don't superimpose our feelings on him, but his on us. And the scriptures support Chris when it comes to paganism. The verses he cites are good ones. There's plenty more to show that when God defeats paganism, he removes every trace of it....he doesn't incorporate it.

Prometheantimes

I guess I see this a little differently. When I first encountered this oh-so-clever re-imagining of Schultz' work on StumbleUpon or Facebook, I dismissed it immediately for the sophomoric and misguided stab at Christianity that it is. It's childish, 'easy' and disrespectful (in full disclosure, I've been guilty of all three many times--although not as an anti-Christian antagonist, and will most likely re-offend).

The biggest question for me in this regarding the 'rightness' of it (personally, it's offensive, but fortunately, my tastes do not dictate those of the rest of the world), and that depends upon whether this is satire (such as it is) or a deliberate attempt to pass off anti-Christian propaganda as the original work of Charles Schultz.

If the latter, then I am very much against the bastardization of any artist's work (let alone that of one of the legends of comic strip art, a vastly under-appreciated and poorly-utilized artform) for the purposes of political propaganda, even for those causes which I champion.

Having said that, I don't believe the person who created this intended for it to be taken as Schultz' original work. If this is the case, then the work is satire, which is to my mind legitimate, no matter how distasteful.

I must say that prior to reading your very well-reasoned piece, I hadn't thought about the issue. Although as I said I don't BELIEVE that the author's intention was to deceive, you've certainly given me something to think about. I adore satire, but I despise liars.

Good work!

tom sheepandgoats

You are probably correct in your assessment of the creator's intent, but that doesn't mean people don't mistake it for Shultz' work, especially our people, especially the young among them. I'll let you in on a JW slice of life...

Those things said in the modified strip? They're all things that JWs have known about Christmas for close to 100 years. So the strip becomes a collection of buzzwords for us, and we go nuts over it, take it at face value, and forward it to a million of our friends.

A day after I wrote the post, I was forwarded the cartoon by another pal, (don't we have anything else to do?) who cc'd it to a couple dozen more. I answered with this post.

Though not everyone thinks it's a big deal. "The real fraud is Christmas itself," someone wrote me. I don't disagree with that.

Prometheantimes

I tend to be cynical about many things (although sometimes I surprise myself with my idealism), and try not to take anything I see on the internet at face value. Critical thinking skills are not being taught to our children, and what skills adults have, we aren't using. The emoticon is one example of this--"I'll let you know how to frame what I'm telling you--smiley, frowny, winky, etc.--so you don't have to dope it out for yourself."
I didn't realize that Schultz was so popular among JWs, but he's pretty beloved to a lot of people, so it's not a surprise. Largely, Schultz' work reflects middle-class values, and not liking Christmas (despite the legitimacy of holding such beliefs)is most definitely NOT a middle-class value.
The idea that "Christmas is a fraud," is a provocative one, and can be examined in a variety of ways. For example,I personally find some merit in the allegation that Christmas is a fraud, but probably for reasons different than your own. While I concede that the Christmas Celebration owes a great deal to pagan rituals, this doesn't diminish from my appreciation of the holiday as honoring the birth of the Savior (Whom I don't believe was born on the 25th of December). However, the increased presence of "Christmas" in stores, TV and other inescapable media coupled with the complete secularization of the holiday seems to me grotesque.

Martyn

Hi Tom,

Just wanted to say thank you for writing some great post in 2011 and pray that you continue to do the same in 2012.

Always appreciate your views and would always be pleased to see you over on my blog!

http://insidemartynsmind.blogspot.com/

tom sheepandgoats

I'll do that, Martyn. Thank you. A quick perusal of your blog shows some well-written articles there.

Hal

Yea I smell a rat too. I don't know if Charles would have had a "light bulb moment" with this or it would have simply made him mad. But perhaps there is some solace in knowing that this particular dog was after all, telling the truth.

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