Christ and the Grinch
Shortly after Thanksgiving, my family went to see the “Grinch 2” movie, in which Benedict Cumberbatch (don’t you love that British name?) takes over from Jim Carrey as the chief Christmas gremlin, determined to ruin the holiday for his neighbors in Whoville. Early in the film, before
we were even through the first bag of popcorn, there is a seen with a group of Whoville carolers. They are singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (and Ladies, we must presume).” Here are the words to the first verse, all of which were sung in the scene:
“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan’s power, when we have gone astray, Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. ”
I suddenly sat up straight (well, actually you can’t physically sit up straight in modern movie seats), startled by this unexpected appearance of religious language in the middle of a popular Christmas movie. What, one had to ask, were Christ and Satan doing in this PG rated candy cane
of a film? I immediately developed a theory that this caroling scene was a little sop given to the “put Christ back into Christmas” crowd. Why not have a bit of theology thrown in, just in case someone wanted to raise a question about the moral value of this entertainment?
Lest you think I am becoming the Grinch by raising any question about our latest sugar-plum movie for kids, I hasten to say that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the rest of the story. Although I’m afraid that I fell asleep before we got to the resolution, it seems that the Grinch was converted to cheeriness at last, after trying to steal all the Christmas decorations and toys in his village. The catalyst for his conversion was a kind, adorable little girl, Cindy-Lou Who, voiced by child actress Cameron Seely, who wanted to meet Santa but instead encountered the
Grinch. Cumberbatch gave an interview in which he explained that his version of the Grinch was less mean than the original Carrey version, and the audience could see that the Grinch’s behavior was rooted in his loneliness and feeling of isolation from the villagers.
Films like this can be good family fun, but our kids need to hear the real Christmas story from their parents and their church. They need to be told that Christmas began as a way of remembering God’s great gift to us, the gift of his Son, and that our seasonal giving and receiving is simply a way of reminding us of that wonderful truth. All the rest is, well, tinsel.