Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dr. Seuss and Christianity

I have found myself recently infatuated with Dr. Seuss.  Call it a casualty of the parenting trade, as I read a Seusser every night to Kali, but the guy intrigues me... to the point that I read straight through a 300 page biography of him last night.  And, upon further investigation, I believe we as Christians can learn something from Dr. Seuss (aka Ted Geisel).

Some interesting facts:
1)  His Start:  He started writing and drawing for advertising slogans.

2) The Cat in the Hat:  challenged to help kids start reading, he was given a list of 200 words from his publisher and told to write a book using only those words.  He was stuck in the writing process so he decided he would just take the first 2 words on the list that rhymed and that would be his title--cat and hat.  This was the start of the Beginner Books label, where all of them have 200 unique words or less.

3)  Green Eggs and Ham:  Seuss' publisher thought he was getting too cocky, so he made a bet he couldn't write a Beginner Book using only 50 different words from the list, total.  GE&H was the book he won the bet with.  Only one word in GE&H is not monosyllabic:  anywhere.

4) Politics:  He was a very politically engaged guy, even in his books.  He claimed later in life that his writing was, "Subversive as hell."  When challenged by a political editorialist friend on why he wasn't involved politically, Seuss sent him a copy of his book, "Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!" with the M.K.M. crossed out throughout the book and "Richard M. Nixon" penciled in.  Seuss was political all along!  Other political themed books, "Horton Hears a Who"- American occupation of Japan, "The Lorax" - pollution, "The Butter Battle Book" - cold war arms race, and more...

5)  Personal life:  He was not a warm, cuddly guy.  He was rough, crass, and arrogant.  His wife of 40 years committed suicide, and he remarried his best friend's wife within months (after encouraging her to leave her husband for him)...not exactly the Santa Claus-esque guy I pictured.

Here's the take-home:
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me about Seuss, was that he was not a "kid" guy.  He didn't intially have a heart for kids or a passion for education.  He was a self-centered guy who was good at rhyming.  With his skill set, advertising, political cartooning, and children's literature were the places he could be successful.

In short, he wrote kids books because that's where he could make money, given who he was wired to be.

Substitute "making money" with "impacting lives" and that is ideally what God wants from us.  As Christians, too many times we are looking for where we can serve best, but too often that question is not about where we can be the most effective, but where we find the most fulfillment.  Even thought we are looking to serve, it easily becomes about us, not the bigger goal--assisting the coming of God's kingdom here on earth.

Seuss really only felt truly fulfilled by the end of his life when he was able to write more politically and be embraced by adults as well as children.  All along, though, he was making an impact that only HE could make.

What impact are YOU equipped to make?  Pursue that which is most beneficial for the Kingdom of God, even if you would rather be doing something else...

As Jesus says it, "Seek first the Kingdom, and everything else will be added to you."

As Seuss would say it, "Put Kingdom first, God's Kingdom first, and in your Heart be reimbursed."