"How The Grinch Stole Christmas" & Unhealthy Churches

by Lois E. Gibson

Recently I decided to watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (the Jim Carey one). This isn't near the top of my favorite Christmas movies list, but I find it grows on me some as I watch it. There was a portion of the movie that stood out to me that goes along with unhealthy churches.

LOL Yes, another! (Read the one on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" here.) It is somewhat comical that in watching some Christmas shows I am having things stand out that did not before. :)

Now, bear with me as I first share what happens in this scene and then change it some to show the similarity in unhealthy churches.

It comes about 34 minutes into the movie, where the people are all gathered together while the May-Who (mayor) of Whoville makes the festive announcement that it is time for nominations to be made for the Holiday Cheermeister. It is apparent May-Who expects to be nominated. But suddenly little Cindy Lou shouts out from the crowd, "I nominate the Grinch!" There is talking and gasps as the people all turn to look at Cindy Lou and then Mr. May-Who.

Laughing, he says, "My, my, my! What an altruistic daughter you have there, Lou!" (Though this would normally be a compliment, it wasn't said as one and Lou cautiously thanks him.) "Cindy?" He beckons her to come closer as he continues. "Let me, uh, quote a verse from The Book of Who." He is handed The Book by another Who standing nearby and it looks very similar to a large family Bible.

"Ah, 'The term 'Grinchy' shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply.' Now I ask you: does that sound like our Holiday Cheermeister?"

Cindy Lou responds without hesitation. "True, Mr. May-Who. But The Book of Who says this, too: 'No matter how different a Who may appear, he will always be welcomed with holiday cheer.'"

The people nod their heads in agreement. Mr. May-Who has a concerned look. "Whoa, yes! Well, yes, the-The Book also says, the, uh." He is flipping through the pages while he talks, searching for words. "'The award cannot go to the Grinch because sometimes things get the lead pipe cinch.'" (I had to look this up as I was unfamiliar with the term. It means a sure thing, a certainty. See this article.)

Cindy Lou calls him on this. "You made that up! It doesn't say that!" You can hear the people talking as they look to Cindy Lou and then Mr. May-Who.

"No, no, no it does," he responds.

The people gasp and look toward Cindy Lou, some with a stern look. She asks, "What page?" More gasps follow as all eyes are now on Mr. May-Who.

"Uh, oops! Lost my, uh- my-my place, but it's - (he clears his throat) it's in here!" as he slams The Book of Who shut.

Cindy Lou won't be silenced. "But The Book does say 'The Cheermeister is the one who deserves a back slap or a toast. And it goes to the soul at Christmas who needs it most.' And I believe that soul is the Grinch. And if you're the Whos I hope you are, you will, too."

With that, the people agree she is right. Mr. May-Who continues to try and manipulate things by trying to poo poo it away saying fine, if that's what they want, the people can choose the Grinch as it's up to them, but he's telling them that the Grinch will never come down. His aid pipes in and says that if he doesn't, Mr. May-Who will wear the crown (which is what he wanted and expected all along). Even when the Grinch does show, he continues to try and manipulate the situation into what he wanted.

Let me share some of what I saw in this that ties in with what happens in unhealthy churches.

First, look at Mr. May-Who as the pastor. He is at the center of everyone's attention as he addresses the congregation and expects to be loved, respected and given honor. When a young person who doesn't know any better says something that no one else there would have, the rest of the people are astonished that she would say something other than what was accepted and expected. She wants to know what is wrong about cutting hair.

The pastor turns to the child's parents and compliments their daughter in words, but it is quite clear by his look and tone that it is not meant to be a compliment. It is clear that they do not have their child under control, nor have they taught her well. The parents brace themselves as they know they're in the hot seat.

In an effort to dismiss the girl, the pastor quotes from the Bible, but doesn't share all that pertains to the issue, "The Bible clearly says in 1 Corinthians 11:6, 'For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.'" He asks her if this doesn't clear up the matter.

She agrees with him as to what he quoted from the Bible, but goes on to quote another section of the Bible. "But doesn't Numbers 6 say that a man or a woman could take the vow of a Nazarite? In verse 18 it says that after the vow, 'the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.'"

The pastor isn't used to people continuing to question his teachings, especially when he quotes scripture. He becomes concerned and worried as it appears others in the congregation agreed with what she said. So he goes looking through the Bible while he speaks and says, "Don't you know that Lucifer, having been the 'covering' cherub, realizes how important hair is & because of this, we must seek to protect the power that God has invested in us? We must beware of any action on our part that would distort the reflection of God's glory and your hair is your glory! It all starts at the top! The Bible says 'Uncut hair gives you power and special protection for you and your family.'"

But this girl says that he just made that up. Of course, the pastor denies this. When asked what page it is found on, the pastor slams his Bible shut and reiterates that it is in there. He considers the matter settled. He said it was found in the Bible and that's it.

But she continues, "But even Leviticus 13 shows that a woman could have her head shaved in checking for leprosy. And if she had it and was now cured, chapter 14 and verse 8 says, 'And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair.'"

"Okay then! Do what you want young lady. But I am telling you, the angels will depart from you when you cut your hair. The floodgates will open upon you. We will see what happens to you then!" In the end, the pastor expects to be seen as the one who is right and will get the praise and honor he desires. "Goodness, even the witches know the power they have in their hair...."

Can you see the similarities? I know I had a little fun in changing the story around some, but you could keep it pretty much the same and still see how it relates to unhealthy churches. (Thanks to Lee Stoneking and Ruth Rieder Harvey for some material to use.)

I will end with sharing that there is also a song in the film called "Where Are You Christmas?" If you changed the wording a little, it could be made to fit the person who has become involved in an unhealthy church and lost their joy and focus (just like the Galatians did when they left faith and turned to their works). Think about it. Here are the words.

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love


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Copyright 2013

Posted November 18, 2013

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