Christian Theology According to Horton

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.

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Are You Listening to God Firsthand?

Can you identify with this situation? Let’s listen in on a brief conversation between Bob and Bill during lunch last Tuesday: 

 

  • Bob: I just don’t get it. I listen to the same sermon you do each week but I don’t seem to be growing.
  • Bill: If you only had a weekly, 30-minute conversation with your wife, you wouldn’t expect to be very intimate with her, would you? Are you in the habit of listening to God outside of Sunday morning? If you eat only once a week, it’s little wonder that you’re starving! 

 

ARE YOU REALLY LISTENING?

It’s easy to punch the clock on Sunday mornings in a comfortable pew while listening to the preacher speak for God. After all, he’s been in the Word all week, right? And if he’s “on” he’ll have a passionate message with a joke and a reference to football somewhere in there. But is this the sum total of what it means to hear God speak?

 

In Exodus 20:18-19, Moses had just come down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments. It’s like he told the Israelites, “God has been speaking to me, and now He wants to speak to you. C’mon, I know where to find Him.” But the Israelites wanted no part of it. They told Moses: “You speak to us, and we will listen, but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die” (Exodus 20:19).

 

WILL YOU PAY THE PRICE?

I wonder if this is the sentiment of too many American church-going men today, who say, “Study hard, preacher, and make my one hour on Sunday interesting. But don’t expect me to pray or get into the Bible during the week because I’m afraid if I really hear God speak, it will cost me my self-centered life.”

 

You know it’s true. It’s pretty tough to continually hear God’s Word and remain happily unchanged. God wants to speak to this generation of men and He wants to change us through what He says in His Word. So my challenge is to listen up because God is speaking!

 

BOTTOM LINE

Make sure you’re allowing God to speak to you personally through His Word. That will deepen your relationship with Him like nothing else can.

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When Life Goes Unscripted

In my Bible study class at King’s Grant we are taking a fresh look at the life of Mary. Not a very manly thing to do but the life lessons are very relevant. The first session looked at the topic of “unexpected,” which was certainly what happened to Mary when the angel visited her. The question for each of us is, “How do you respond when unexpected things in life happen to you?” The choices can be as few as two: do you respond in faith or in fear? What’s your story? Loss of a job, marital strife, rebellious kids, health concerns, failure of some kind, home foreclosure, victim of a crime?

 

Now, think about your favorite reality TV show. What do you like best about it? Why are these shows so popular? Answers will obviously vary, but for the most part, we like these shows because they are unpredictable. I read a story about a stage actress who realized no one was watching her perform; their attention was drawn to a cat that wondered onto the stage. Why was the cat suddenly the star of the show? Because no one knew what the cat would do next!

 

Mary had her plans in life; marriage to Joseph, raise a family, influence the community, be a part of the best carpentry shop in Nazareth, who knows? She had her life all scripted out. What happens when we lose the script of our own lives? What are your feelings when life goes unscripted?

 

Take an index card and write out the major events in your life so far: marriage, kids, graduation, career, maybe even some crisis you had to face. Look at your list. Did everything turn out just life you had planned? How did you deal with the surprises? How often did things turn out better than what you had planned?

 

Turn the card over and write out your plans for the next ten years: marriage, children, graduation, a promotion, a new house, retirement? This is act two of your life. When God intervenes, life becomes unscripted. We are moving along at His pace and in His direction rather than our own.

 

What did this unscripted life mean for Mary? She faced divorce, shame, public humiliation, reputation. Nothing was going according to her plans. What did Mary do? She worshiped.

 

Margaret Feinberg writes, “When we make God the center of our lives, we can’t help but worship, no matter what the circumstance. When we don’t worship, we tend to worry. Worship or worry – which do you choose when you’re in a tough situation?”

 

But how can you worship when life is falling apart around you? Margaret says, “Worship is about proclaiming that God is worth more than you. As long as you are able to script your own life, you really don’t need to worship. You are trusting that certain events will give your life meaning. But when those things get taken away … you are forced to acknowledge that God is calling the shots.”

 

Hang in there. God does not promise an easy life, but a guided one! Turn your act two over to God. Verses of encouragement are Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33 and Philippians 4:6.

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The Origin of Santa Claus

The model for Santa Claus was a fourth-century Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas. Little is known about the real Nicholas, except that he was probably the bishop of Lycia. In the Middle Ages, when it became popular to venerate saints, legends about Nicholas began to flourish. One said he had given three bags of gold to the daughters of a poor man so that the girls would not have to earn their dowries through prostitution. Another claimed he had miraculously restored three little boys to life after they had been cut up for bacon. Thus Nicholas became known as a giver of gifts and the patron saint of children. His day is December 6.

 

Nicholas was particularly popular in Holland. It is there that the customs linking Nicholas to Christmas seem to have first begun. Dutch children expected the friendly saint to visit them during the night on December 5, and they developed the custom of placing their wooden shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts. Santa Claus is the Americanization of his Dutch name, Sinterklaas.

 

Of course, by the time Santa Claus became a part of American lore, children had discovered that you can get a lot more gifts in a sock than you can in a wooden shoe, so that adjustment to the custom was made in the mid-nineteenth century.

 

Clement Moore, an American poet, may be more responsible than any other person for popularizing the myth of Santa Claus. He wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822 which begins with the famous line, “‘Twas the night before Christmas,” and it was published in the Troy New York Sentinel. It was immediately popular and has endured ever since.

 

** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989. More information may be found here.

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What Child is This?

At this time of year, it is a good question to ask, “What child is this?”

  1. Some say He was just a good teacher, but good teachers don’t claim to be God.
  2. Some say He was merely a good example, but good examples don’t mingle with prostitutes and sinners.
  3. Some say He was a madman, but madmen don’t speak the way He spoke.
  4. Some say He was a crazed fanatic, but crazed fanatics don’t draw children to themselves or attract men of intellect like Paul or Luke to be their followers.
  5. Some say He was a religious phony, but phonies don’t rise from the dead.
  6. Some say He was only a phantom, but phantoms can’t give their flesh and blood to be crucified.
  7. Some say He was only a myth, but myths don’t set the calendar for history.

Jesus has been called the ideal man, an example of love, the highest model of religion, the foremost pattern of virtue, the greatest of all men, and the finest teacher who ever lived. All of those descriptions capture elements of His character, but they all fall short of the full truth. The apostle Thomas expressed it perfectly when he saw Jesus after the resurrection, and exclaimed, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28).

** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.

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