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Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography isn’t the first biography about Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, but according to at least one review, it might be the deepest, and offer some insights into the spiritual journey behind the beloved comic strip.
peanutssm.gifCharles Schulz died in 2000 and had been known as one of the more enigmatic and private public figures of his day. His comic strip, “Peanuts,” was read by millions, turned into TV shows and movies, and continues to be many Americans’ first source for hearing the gospel of Luke’s version of the Christmas story. Previous biographies have explored his life, but according to reviewer Michael Taube of the Christian Science Monitor, this one has more for the spiritually inclined reader.
David Michaelis is the author of this new biography, and according to Taube he is “impressive” as he explores “the troubled genius behind ‘Peanuts.’” The new biography explains how Schulz “found solace in religion” and “became a firm believer in Jesus Christ” in his younger years, but later “drifted away from the church.” He was quoted as saying, “I’m not an orthodox believer and I’m becoming less of one all the time.” I find this fascinating because it means Schulz was just about a decade ahead of his time…which is perhaps why such a wide audience found humor and depth in his comic strip.


Countless numbers of Americans are more and more disenfranchised with organized religion, but believe they’re on a spiritual journey. A recent Barna poll confirms this, and both Barna and Gallup have showed this over numerous surveys in recent years.
Schulz followers know that his “two marriages were far from perfect, and he cheated on his first wife.” Michaelis goes on to point out that “Schulz was not a warm individual” and he “rarely showed affection, even to his children.” Other cartoonists called him “competitive.” Like some (but not all) successful people, he “disliked appearing in public” and “suffered greatly from self-doubt.”
“The burning question of his life,” Michaelis says: “Will I be – was I ever – truly loved?”
The genius of Michaelis’ book is that it portrays Schulz as someone a lot like you and me: he used an environment he could control—and in which he felt safe—to work out his deepest thoughts and feelings. Therein was his genius, and his humanity, expressed through cartoon characters. A decade later, an entire generation may not have Schulz’s genius for cartoons, but they’re expressing themselves through Facebook pages, forum postings and websites. Schulz may have been more normal than even he himself realized.
That’s why more and more churches are working to be authentic and real places where people don’t have to put on airs to impress each other. It’s too bad Schulz couldn’t have found a place like that. Michaelis says it was his “need to be loved” that drove him. Taube’s conclusion: “Good grief, he sounds a lot like you and me!”
I agree.
(For more about Charles Schulz and depression, see this post at Beyond Blue…)

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