Thursday, September 27, 2007

Was Charles Schulz an Atheist?

Was Charles Schulz an atheist? Is it evident in his 1966 Halloween television show It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? On the surface, an innocent cartoon, shown in late October, depicting children participating in the age old tradition of going to Halloween parties and trick or treating...but as you dig a little deeper it is much more.
Linus, a seemingly faithful gentile, full of naive wonder and optimism, stands out in a pumpkin patch all night waiting for The Great Pumpkin. While all the others dress up in costume for a Halloween party and trick or treats, Linus remains blindly faithful. Stubborn and hopeful, he waits for this deity of his to appear. He does not care that he is the only one who believes in “the Great Pumpkin”. He does know that he will be rewarded for his patience and faith. While the others go out enjoying life, going to parties, trick or treating; Linus waits. Please pay attention to the similarities here. The similarities between this story and in our beliefs today that there is a God...something bigger controlling our destinies.
Linus is a believer. He wants desperately to believe in this thing that he has not seen, that he can not prove, that everyone doubts. He wants to be good and faithful so that he will be rewarded in the end. He tries to pursuade others to join (Sally), all the while attempting to hide the perpetual doubt.
“Hey, aren’t you going to stay to greet the Great Pumpkin? It won’t be long now. If the Great Pumpkin comes, I’ll still put in a good word for you...Good Grief! I said “if”! I meant “when” he comes! I’m doomed. One little slip like that could cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.”
All the others are out tearing it it up. Lucy and Pigpen, Shroeder and Frieda...even Charlie Brown. Chewing it up and spitting it with reckless abandon. They are dressing up and going to parties and going trick or treating. They dont want to regret missing such a time. You don’t get to do such things forever, you know.
Linus stands behind his convictions, spending the evening waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin. As his hope begins to fade they are brought back with a vision he sees in the night. You see, deep down he is trying to convince himself that this hope is real, that there is something beyond his visible, and concrete world. Out of the patch comes an apparition...a vision...THERE IS HOPE!...Linus faints and wakes up to find that “the Great Pumkin vision” was merely Snoopy trying to scare them. (a similarity to visions of Mary in Oak Trees or Jesus in a crumpled Coke can)
So in the end Linus is left with sleep. Thats it. Deep peaceful sleep. He is not rewarded for his penetance. There are no gifts, no prizes. Only sleep. He just realizes everything that he missed. All the fun. The parties. The people.

I love this show and curse myself for thinking of it this way. If you think about it Atheists are just as confused as the believers.


Anonymous said...

dude-seriously. interesting take. i appreciate you looking at this from a different perspective, but, Schulz was an open and profoundly deep Christian. evidence exists not only in numerous interviews, but in his other classic holiday hit, "Charlie Brown Christmas" where the "true meaning of Christmas" is summarized with the recitation of the story of the Christ child from the book of Luke.

Furthermore, at no point in "Pumpkin" is the existance of the Great Pumpkin disproven, to the best of my recollection. To carry on your line of thinking, Linus waiting for the coming shows loyalty and faith, which are clearly both integral to Christianity. Other themes are patience, and demonstrating that the masses will inevitably try to dissuade you from your beliefs, and tell you that you are wrong.

On a closing note, I think I know what you meant when you said athiests are as confused as believers. But I would argue it takes far more faith to be an athiest; or believe everything is purely happenstance, than it does to accept that God is real. Nature, birth, the consciousness of manking, all of these things point to a greater power. athiesim points to nothing. but that is a much more involved topic to be saved for another day.

Anonymous said...

You might want to check your facts. Schultz was an avowed atheist:

"In an interview in 1999, Schultz said that although his philosophical views evolved over the years, "the term that best describes me now is secular humanist"."

Anonymous said...

Secularity =/= atheism.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you were trying to disprove that, but a secular humanist doesn't believe in supernatural anything.

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Anonymous said...

Was he a demarcate ?