Charles Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, had a way with creating characters. Every one of them had their own unique personality. Those who grew up spending the holidays watching the annual TV specials, know these characters well. True Peanuts fans know which character had naturally curly hair, which character asked Santa for tens and twenties for Christmas and true fans know the difference between “Patty” and “Peppermint Patty.”
One of the most complex characters of all is the thumb-sucking, blanket-toting Linus. Ironically, he’s the religious one of the bunch. He is like the people in the Old Testament who not only worshipped the true God, but they also carried about their wooden idols, just to be safe. Linus talks big, but take away his security blanket and he’s a mess.
Linus can also been compared to a new Christian trying to find their way. In the Halloween-themed special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” Linus is taken with the notion of giant pumpkin who rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies around the world giving presents to good little girls and boys who believe in him. So taken in fact, that he begins spreading this gospel to anyone who will hear it. Because of his new-found faith, he forgoes the annual trick-or-treating ceremony and the Halloween party held at Violet’s house. He writes letters to the Great Pumpkin and evangelizes to all his friends. He is mocked, laughed at and they all deny him, except for Sally. She wants to trick or treat but her common sense is blinded by her love for the boy, her Sweet Baboo if you will.
Linus convinces Sally to stay with him in the pumpkin patch and they can wait for the Great Pumpkin together. They can even sing pumpkin carols. He has the perfect patch picked out too. He knows that it is the perfect patch because it is the most sincere. Minutes turn into hours, but the Great Pumpkin doesn’t come. Sally feels like a fool and leaves Linus by himself. He fears that his faith is too weak and has failed at being a true pumpkin believer.
The truth of the matter of course is that Linus was worshipping a false god. His deep faith was actually just wishful thinking. He was sincere in his beliefs, but he was sincerely wrong. Many of us know of family and friends who do the same thing as Linus. They follow a false god or doctrine and it is so obvious to us. They are so wrapped up in their devotion, that they cannot see the truth. Like Lucy, Linus’ older and wiser sister, we try to correct them by telling them that they are stupid to believe such things. And like Lucy, we are surprised and exasperated when they don’t give up the phoney doctrine for the real thing.
So many of us want to be right. We pick fights with people of other religions or even denominations. We want to point out their belief in their Great Pumpkin is wrong. We forget that only God knows the heart of each person and we forget that it isn’t our responsibility to “save” people. We can help with the publicity, but only Jesus can save.
My favorite part of the Halloween special is near the end when Lucy wakes up in the middle of the night and notices that her brother is not home. (Why his parents don’t notice that he’s missing is mystery to me, but I digress.) Lucy finds Linus still in the pumpkin patch alone, exhausted and shivering. She could spend the time gloating and telling Linus what a fool he was, but instead, she covers him, takes him home and helps him into bed. Sometimes we as Christians need to stop fighting other’s beliefs and just love them for where they are.
I like to believe that somewhere between Halloween and Christmas, Linus found what he was looking for after all. Much like verse Jeremiah 29:13 where it says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” In October, Linus believed in the Great Pumpkin, but by December, we see him showing Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas. There on center stage in the spotlight he quotes Luke 2:10 -
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.'"
In October, Linus is considered a fool but just months later, he is regarded as being wise. Somewhere down the road he stopped seeking the Great Pumpkin, but he didn’t stop seeking.
Jeffrey Totey is lover of pop culture and tends to see spiritual truth in the oddest places. Sometimes he writes about fluff other times, he'll write about substance. You can read more of his work at Peanuts and Popcorn.