Nobody Hates Charlie Brown

6 02 2008

“Good ol’ Charlie Brown.  How I hate him.”

That was the very first commentary on the life of Charlie Brown from the very first Peanuts comic strip.  After that, we continued to read about a wishy-washy, lovable loser who frequently lost his kite in the trees, spent time at Lucy’s psychiatric booth, couldn’t win at baseball, and couldn’t kick the football.  As far as we know, he never won the heart of that little red haired girl.  And despite a good heart and good intentions, he just couldn’t seem to pull the Christmas pageant together on his own.  Oh, and then there was that infamous Christmas tree.

I have a connection with the zig-zag-shirted one.  In elementary school, I snagged the role of the round-headed blockhead by rolling backwards off of my stool after Lucy zinged me with her usual harsh toned advice in auditions.  I’ll admit that I identified with Chuck more than I should have – at times it became easy to resign myself to being the cast-off.

The concept of being a “lovable loser” seems reserved for fiction alone.  After all, how many real life people have you known that people adore despite being a, uh, “loser”?  We love Charlie Brown, though.  He represents pureness and innocence.  He’s polite and kind and never returns a harsh word.  In fact, perhaps one of the finest elements of character we find in good ol’ Charlie Brown is that he isn’t vengeful.  Oh sure, Lucy had his number – but we never see Charlie Brown plotting to demolish her reputation.  In fact, he returns to her for nickle advise time and again.

Could it be that we find this characteristic so endearing because it’s so rare?  We are a society of vengeance fueled, forgiveness lacking, bitterness driven people.  These traits are even more evident in other cultures that we observe around the world.  Few people are satisfied with an eye for an eye…  we prefer an arm or a leg as well.  And even the most cowardly of us find it empowering to be a part of demolishing some one’s reputation.  These are all things that we easily identify as being problematic in others – but let’s face it – few of us are free from these character flaws.  Except good ol’ Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown is the car, and the world is a tree full of birds.  Yet he still seems to find a way to shine.  Maybe that’s something we should think about.  Who is the biggest winner – the one who avenges to the greatest degree? 

As a pastor, I’m keenly aware that despite the lack of gun-play or other violence, so-called Christ-followers are also quite astute at the vengeance game.  We know how to wreck a reputation with smart-bomb accuracy.  Or should I call it “stink-bomb” accuracy?  Of course, this problem extends well beyond the walls of the church.  We would all do well to remember why Charlie Brown is more than just an American icon.  He is beloved because of his high sense of character despite the onslaughts of the world around him.  Lovable loser?  I think not.  I would say he is one of our greatest examples of a winner.

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2 responses

7 02 2008
C.L. Mareydt

a great take … & i whole heartedly agree!
how about Yogi & Boo Boo (remember … smarter than the average bear??)

7 02 2008
gregfish

Yeah, but what about all the stealing of the pic-a-nic baskets, eh boo boo?

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