Theodor Geisel: 20th Century Prophet

If Nobel Prizes were awarded for prophets, I might be persuaded to nominate Theodor Geisel as the 20th Century’s greatest prophet.  Any of you who have children – or were a child yourself at one time – are very familiar with this lifelong, politically active Democrat.  If you can’t quite place his name, perhaps you know him better by his pen name, Dr. Seuss.

Among his many popular and critically acclaimed children’s books, perhaps his most endearing is the 1957 classic entitled, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  Adapted for television in 1966, it aired on the CBS network for 22 years, and has become one of many endearing traditions enjoyed each December by millions the world over, both young and old.  The cartoon has taken-up permanent residence on the Internet Movie Database’s list of the top 250 films each December.  As further testament to its popularity, I can safely assume no one reading this needs me to refresh their memory of the storyline of this American classic.

Aside from Geisel’s trademark style of rhyme combined with a uniquely creative vocabulary, perhaps the most significant factor contributing to the enduring success of this story for over half a century, was the preposterous notion Geisel contrived for the story’s premise that anyone would actually wish to rid the world of Christmas.  Christmas!  For centuries, the single greatest annual celebration throughout Western civilization.  Christmas!  A time of joy, peace, goodwill, faith, hope, charity.  Christmas!  When small tokens shared among family, friends, neighbors, even strangers, create bridges over wide relational chasms, and feed and cloth those in need.  Christmas!  A holiday so widely enjoyed and celebrated, it is embraced equally by Christians and non-Christians alike to the point that, for many, it transcends its religious foundation.

While the premise of the story reveals Geisel’s genius; his potential status as a prophet admittedly suffers due to the methods he imagined a Grinch might employ to successfully achieve his devious goal.  As you recall, the fictitious Grinch disguises himself to look like Santa as he slithers through the town stealing every vestige of Christmas: from the Christmas trees, to the decorations; from the presents, to the food.  He scours the town until not one sign of Christmas remains.

But recent years have revealed a very real Grinch loose in our society. Not an odd looking individual with green fur and a soothing, grandfatherly voice.  But, rather, a small yet equally determined army of very ordinary looking people, employing none of the methods Geisel dreamed-up.  If Geisel was truly a prophet, surely he should have seen more clearly into future decades to warn us of these apostles of diversity, preaching in the public square their politically correct gospel of egalitarianism, tolerance, and sensitivity.  He would have warned us that these Grinches would not wind their way down Who chimneys; but would, instead, wield their influence over governments, major retailers, media outlets, and human resources departments throughout the land with threats of lawsuits on behalf of offended victims with irreparably hurt feelings from such diabolical trespasses upon their senses as the mere sight of the colors red and green, or displays of a baby in a manger; the sounds of Christmas Carols, or even a whisper of the word “Christmas”.

Some might conclude that it’s a shame Geisel let us down so, by failing to accurately predict the future.  Though, I imagine it’s possible he only concealed the truth about the coming assault on Christmas for the sake of his young audience, attempting to spare them certain distress while reassuring himself that the adults reading his story to their little ones might decipher his cryptic warning.  But, either way, and no matter how brilliant or well-intentioned he was, his prophetic attempt (as with most prophets) somehow failed to alert future generations.

Whoville withstands the external assault on its culture when the Grinch’s heart miraculously enlarges after the true spirit of Christmas suddenly touches him, causing him to repent and join in the celebration.  It is said that Geisel never really got into the sentimentality of Christmas himself, and that the Grinch may be somewhat of an autobiographical character.  So, perhaps there is hope that today’s antagonists, when they get a small dose of Christmas spirit like Geisel’s Grinch, may also experience heart transformations.  For the sake of our nation, I hope so.  However, British Historian Arnold Toynbee warns us that, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”  By accepting the gospel of the Grinches, we are slowly committing suicide.  For, while Christmas will no doubt survive without America; I fear America will not long survive without Christmas.

For now, while there is yet no law against it, I unabashedly wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


1 Comment »

  1. 1

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