God and Dr. Seuss

Are there Christian messages in the works of Dr. Seuss? Robert Short argues that there are in his new book, The Parables of Dr. Seuss. The Associated Press discussed the book earlier this week:

No one has ever doubted the layers of meaning in the stories of Dr. Seuss. The Lorax has obvious lessons about the environment. The Butter Battle Book took direct aim at the Cold War arms race. Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now! was one way to demand the resignation of President Nixon.

So when Horton’s world of Who-ville was “saved by the Smallest of All,” Robert Short saw the savior of the Whos as a symbol for the Savior of all people. From Green Eggs and Ham to How the Grinch Stole Christmas , Short has reinterpreted many of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s stories as subtle messages of Christian doctrine in the new book, The Parables of Dr. Seuss.

Questions remain, however, about whether the original author intended such an interpretation or Short, a retired Presbyterian minister, is just seeing the stories through the lens of his own life.

“I was amazed at what I found when I started looking at it — all this Christian imagery was very carefully factored into his stories,” Short said in an interview from his home in Little Rock.

“And that’s what this book intends to do, is show how he has done this in a very carefully crafted way. It’s there, and you could make an argument for it being intentionally there, because it’s done with such great care.”

Short has spent four decades drawing spiritual lessons from popular culture, starting with the 1965 best-seller, The Gospel According to Peanuts, the first of his eight books. The 75-year-old minister also does presentations that explore religious meanings in the popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and even in the last episode of the television comedy Cheers, set in a Boston bar. Short has the congregation sing the Cheers theme song before beginning his talk.

. . .

So is The Cat in the Hat really the Christ who arrives with a “BUMP” and turns the world upside down for God’s children? Is the mother in the story a symbol of the old religious law? Are the fish in the bowl representative of churches that adhere to a restricting version of the Gospel? Did Dr. Seuss really intend for his stories to be interpreted this way?

It’s a quandary that, for some, would puzzle even the Grinch’s puzzler.

“There’s so much of it,” Short said. “And it fits so neatly into the configuration of the Christian message that I’m convinced that he knew what he was doing.”

Read it all here.

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