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.
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:
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.