Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Odds & Ends

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Odds & Ends

Article excerpt

Just three days into this millennium, Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, called it quits. His last strip, appearing January 3, 2000, reads in part, "Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy... how can I ever forget them?"

We won't forget them either.

Nor can I forget the book The Gospel According to Peanuts Westminster John Knox), published in 1965. Its author, Robert L. Short, financed a lot of his extensive theological education by giving color-slide lectures on the theological implications in Peanuts. Eventually he wrote tins book, which has sold more than 10 million copies. Early editions cost $1.50; now the price is $13.95.

In this book's acknowledgments, the author writes appreciatively about his teachers at the University of Chicago's Divinity School putting up with his unusual interest. "They have met the enemy, and it is me." One of his teachers, Nathan A. Scott, Jr., writes in the foreword of the book, "Mr. Schulz has been turning a remarkably penetrating searchlight on the anxieties and evasions and duplicities that make up our common lot; and, as Mr. Short fully demonstrates in this attractive little book, the analysis of human existence that Mr. Schulz is giving us is essentially theological and, in its basic inspiration, deeply Christian."

This 127-page book begins with a chapter on "The Church and the Arts." Short writes in it, "Art, just because of its subtlety or indirectness, has a way of sneaking around `mental blocks' and getting to the heart of the matter where it is capable of deeply and literally `moving'--even the most immovable--men and women." That, in a nutshell, is what he claims Peanuts does.

The last chapter, titled "Concluding Unscientific Post script," is an allusion both to H. Richard Niebuhr's classic book Christ and Culture (HarperCollins, 1986), whose last chapter is likewise titled, and to Danish existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard's book Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (Mercer, 1997), where this phrase originated. …

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