It takes me a while before I see most movies; I generally wait for them to come out on DVD! I saw Horton Hears a Who this past week and needed to share my theological insights that I see in the movie. Bottom line for me, it’s about being faithful to your beliefs. This is a long post so pace yourself, but you might find this interesting and might use it for teaching at some point:
Horton seems to have a bigger picture of the universe and his place in it: The kangaroo leader of the community tells him, “There are no people that small.” Horton then responds with a philosophical question, “Maybe they’re not small, maybe we’re big, no wait, think about it. What if there is someone really big looking down on our world and to them, we’re the speck?”
Horton is confronted with an evolutionist, naturalist worldview: The kangaroo continues, “Horton, there is nothing on that speck… if you can’t see, hear or feel something, it doesn’t exist. And believing in tiny imaginary people is just not something we do or tolerate here in the jungle.”
If you’re small and can’t defend yourself, we can get rid of you: The kangaroo calls the Who’s in Whoville “imaginary people on a speck.” – considering my pro-life position, I see this as a naturalistic pro-choice stance on abortion, it is not a baby inside the womb, a fetus is not a little person. You can’t see, hear or touch it, so they don’t exist, and therefore expendable.
Religious ideas and language can be dangerous: The kangaroo believes that ideas which go contrary to her worldview are dangerous. “I do not want you poisoning the minds of the children with this nonsense.”
Horton as a higher being talks with the lower beings: Horton talks to the mayor (as God did with Noah, “build me an ark” or Abraham, “go to a land that I will show you”)… Horton says, “I knew there was life on this speck” to which the mayor replies, “What speck? I’m sorry to say this O voice from the drain pipe, but I live in Whoville.” Horton’s perspective is, “Then Whoville is a speck.”
Mankind seeks to identify a higher power: The mayor questions Horton on his identity, “Ok, Horton, where are you?” Then Horton replies, “I guess from where you’re standing, I’m in the sky. Compared to you, I’m enormous. Your whole world fits on a flower in my world.” Imagine God saying the same thing to us.
People seek to understand their place in the universe: The mayor tries to understand the grand scheme of their situation. Horton says, “We come from completely different worlds but some how we managed to make contact. Is everything OK down there?” to which the mayor replies, “You tell me, you’re the one holding the speck!”
The enemy desires to force God’s people into silence: The kangaroo threatens Horton to hand over that clover. Horton says, “No, there are people on this speck, and a person is a person no matter how small.” This angers the kangaroo, “You just crossed the line Horton, and I’m gonna make you pay.” – I see this as Horton’s declaration of being pro-life, and the naturalist establishment threatens and ridicules those who stand up for life. The kangaroo then enlists the help of the vulture to get rid of the speck and it’s tiny people, she claims she is too much of a lady to get her hands dirty. She eventually is on a crusade to kick Horton out of the jungle for his beliefs (in these small people).
Christians are to be witnesses for the truth: The mayor decides he needed to tell the people about what is going on. He declares a state of emergency and the influential council chairman (like the Pharisees) says, “Not to worry, the mayor is just being a moron.” The mayor insists that everyone is in danger and must get to safety. Let’s do this democratically. “Who wants to go ahead with the celebration as planned? Or hide in the underground storage area?” The Chairman says, “The people have spoken, no one believes you.” To which the mayor whispers, “No, Horton believes me.” “Horton? Who’s Horton?” the mayor witnesses to the fact that “Horton is a giant elephant in the sky. And he is the one risking his life to get our world to safety.” There is laughter by the people.
God seeks us to save us: The vulture who stole the clover with the speck drops this one clover in a field of same colored clover. Horton searches for and finds the one clover. Christ has come to seek and save that which is lost. He searches for the prodigal son and rejoices when one who was lost is found.
The mayor witness to the fact that Horton is the savior: Horton finally speaks and the people hear him. “It must have been rough down there. You really had me worried.” Then the Mayor says, “Friends, I would like you to meet our friend, Horton. He’s going to help us.”
The enemy fights to the very end: The kangaroo is not finished, saying, “Horton is attacking our way of life. Will we let troublemakers like Horton poison the minds of our children? When Horton tells our children about worlds beyond the jungle, he makes them question authority, which leads to defiance, which leads to anarchy.” – Our spiritual enemy wants to silence the message that we have to share, a message about life, understanding there is one greater than ourselves, caring for us and looking out for us, one to whom we are responsible for our behavior.
It is always possible to sell your soul and deny the truth: The kangaroo, in a final plea for compliance, says, “All this trouble you’re in can all go away. All you have to do is admit to everyone that there are no little people living on that speck. That you were wrong, and I was right.” I see this like Martin Luther being persecuted for his challenge to the Catholic church, where he replies, “Unless I shall be convinced by the testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear reason … I neither can nor will make any retraction, since it is neither safe nor honorable to act against conscience… Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Salvation is free but we must respond in faith: To be saved, the Who’s must make noise to convince those who do not hear that they are really alive on the speck: “We have to make some noise, every Who!” They cried, “We are here, we are here.” – Remember that people are people no matter how small, and God knows every one. The call of Christ is to obedience, to do something with your faith. For the Who’s, just believing was not enough.
Persecution is waiting for those who stand up to the evil around them: Horton is finally being caged, roped and flogged, defending his speck world and the little people. The clover is taken from him to be destroyed. Horton sadly mutters, “You’re making a mistake.” – I see Christ on Good Friday, the enemy believing that he had won the victory.
The only Son of God made the difference in the salvation of the world: The voices of the Who’s finally break through: “You did it Mayor!” Then the mayor says to his only son, “Well done, son.” The son made the difference, adding his efforts to all the Who’s voices. The son responds that his father is one of the greats!
Belief and faith in God have a reward, we don’t go through this life alone: Horton says, “I’d like to thank the mayor of Whoville for believing in me from the beginning.” Then the mayor’s son says, “What will we do without you Horton?” Horton relies, “Don’t worry, I’ll always be around.” – for me this reminds me of the great commission, that Jesus is with us always.
There you have it, quotes and events from the movie with theological and social commentary.