Let me preface this by saying that I love Peanuts and respect Charles Schultz’s work immensely. It was a very sad (yet in many ways joyous) day when he passed. The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert Short was one of the first books (the first?) to examine comics and religion. Unfortunately I have never read it. I thought of all this when I read today’s comic. I knew it well, as I am sure all of you do too.
In case and when the strip disappears (if you have a Comics.com account, log in and then refresh this page, it should appear, otherwise you will not be able to see the comic), the dialog is this:
Linus – “…And then on Halloween night the ‘Great Pumpkin’ rises up out of the pumpkin patch…And he brings toys to all the good little children in the world!”
Charlie Brown – “You’re crazy!”
Linus -“All right, so you believe in Santa Claus, and I’ll believe in the ‘Great Pumpkin’… The way I see it, it doesn’t matter what you believe just so you’re sincere!”
What I am wondering is this; was Schultz espousing Linus’ viewpoint or was he actually pointing out the ultimate futility of it. I am leaning towards the latter because, of course, the Great Pumpkin does not appear. Linus spends most of the night in the pumpkin patch and when the GP doesn’t arise Linus decides that the patch wasn’t sincere enough or perhaps he himself was not worthy. Linus’ sincerity could not make up for the reality that the GP does not exist. And yet, Linus refuses to admit that and instead finds other explanations for the fact that the GP does not appear, most of them centering upon his own inadequacy.
There is a fair amount of religious thought in these “childish things.” What do you think? What do you sincerely believe Sparky was trying to say?
UPDATE: And the strip on Nov. 2nd implies that he did not, of course, hold to Linus’ view or at least wanted to show the difficulty with Linus’ convictions in the face of reality.