Sneetches are Sneetches
|The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss
“…But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.” With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort “We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!” And whenever they met some, when they were out walking They’d hike right on past them without even talking.”¹
My thoughts began to spin across the broad scope of humanity and the lengths at which we will go to in order to prove we are somehow better, more special and more right than anyone else around us as I read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. The experience in this book and this quest it reveals about all of us is something significant that I don’t want my readers to miss.
In all of us, there is a desire to find purpose. I don’t think this is a bad struggle, but once our search for purpose veers away from our true purpose and into the desire to be something we are not, we bring both an unhealthy view of “Me” into the equation (causing insecurity and self-destruction) as well as bringing the destruction (belittling and dehumanizing) of every other person who is “not like us.”
So many of us are blind to this disgusting practice within us to be something we are not. I want you to take a second and think to yourself, “how many times in my life have I wanted to be someone else?, How often in my life have I thought I was good at something, just to find out I wasn’t as good as I thought or as good as someone else is… or I actually just SUCK at it? How often have I scoffed at others around me for not knowing what I know, wearing what I wear, reading what I read or enjoying what I enjoy?” Add to this list once you get the idea.
How often have you put yourself above (or as better, more righteous, wise or knowledgable) others around you in your own thoughts and communication? How often have you asked “How can they be so lazy? Why can’t they just get it? Why are they so stupid? Why do they dress like that? Why don’t they just lose some weight (or gain some)? Why don’t they have kids? Why is she pregnant again? Why don’t they…?”
The Church, in my opinion, are the kings of self-righteousness because of something I will mention in just a second. They certainly aren’t the only ones and if you look through the right lens you will find that ALL of us are self-righteous about something. “We are better than you because we don’t eat (or DO eat) animals.” or “We are better than you because we don’t smoke or because we work out” “We are better than you because we employ more women, African Americans or Hispanics in our business.” or “We are better than you because we voted for _________.”
In the Church we do all of those things as well but we go a little farther. We have our own little language and sub-culture that we have derived our purpose, being and community from and it has produced some wicked things from the beginning. It has created a division and hierarchy of sins. It has formed its own fashion and clicks and has both directly and indirectly built a political infrastructure run by the worst of these people. People who are blind to what they are doing, who have issued warrants of injustice to the poor, the strange and the taboo (taboo meaning crossing the lines of sin that the Church deems cultural unacceptable, not that God has deemed culturally unacceptable or different from any other sin) . We use the language, politics and sub-culture to feed into out own self-righteousness. The language is used in both a necessary way to define who we are, BUT also and most often we use that language to belittle and make others who aren’t like us feel stupid for not understanding what we mean. “I am reformed.” “I am dispensational.” “I believe in Sonship.” “I am Anti-Federal Vision.” “I am Postmil.” “I am Premil.” “I am…. (a better christian than you!).” Politically, we have distinguished who the Church gives a greater ear to, concern or financial support for and who’s sins are worse than everyone else’s.
In doing this, we have become anti-christ (Please do NOT assume I mean The Anti-Christ talked about in scripture. I simply mean the antithesis of Christ). We have sought to not only be, but support the most religious, biggest givers, the ones with the least taboo sins, the rich or the doctrinally sound or the tithers and in doing so, we have become the very thing that Christ himself called “Brood of Vipers.” We ARE the Pharisees. If we can’t see that, then we need to repent for our lack of repentance and blindness.
All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches
The Fix-It-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On again! !
In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again,
Changing their stars every minute or two.
They kept paying money. They kept running through
Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one … or that one was this one
Or which one was what one … or what one was who.
Then, when every last cent
Of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up
And he went and he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn,
No. You can’t teach a Sneetch!”
Our problem roots itself in an issue as old as time. It is both the issue and holds insight into the answer. Man, since the beginning of time has wanted to be his own god. Adam and Eve at the apple to be like God. 21st century philosophers have devised a philosophy of the world that says, “Truth is what it is to me. I am my own God.” Eastern religions, mormonism and other beliefs do the same. In every system except one, you are your own god and you can work your way to heaven, gnosis, excellence, purpose etc. Every system but one.
I mention this for one purpose. To both distinguish this ONE system from the others and to point out just why I am often so infuriated by the hypocrisies of both myself and the rest of the Church. I need to say that I am infuriated, not because we are hypocritical though… because we all are on some level, but because they not only try to ignore their hypocrisy but use their ignorance of the system (one that is completely against self-righteousness and human god-ness) to justify their self-righteous and dis-obedient behavior.
I’m speaking of Christianity. I’m speaking of a system that flies in the face of self-righteousness, god-like-ness and pride. The Christian system laid out in scripture is this. WE are not God! Check this out:
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man;I will question you,and you shall answer me.“Would you discredit my justice?Would you condemn me to justify yourself?Do you have an arm like God’s,and can your voice thunder like his? – Job 40:6-9
Who are we then? Ask yourself this. “Can you determine the fate of your life? Can you determine the day you will die? Can you command the animals, the storms or the sea? Can you change the state of the world in a whisper or set the standard for all men to live by? Can you determine in your own mind what is right and what is wrong and is what you determined the law forever? Can you save other men from their plight or from poverty or dispair? Can you rid the world of disease or simply think something that comes true? Can you venture around the univers in a day and know the inner workings of the galaxy down to the smallest make-up and function of each atom and purpose them to move and and go where you tell them to?” Then why does the Church function as if it has the power within itself, apart from God (seen in the life of Christ worked out) to determine things that God himself not only never commanded them to do, but actually commanded the opposite in many cases and rebuked many to the point of threatening their eternal life? does the Church need to have their star-bellies removed at the cost of every penny and ounce of pride to understand who they are???
You and I can’t do any of the things of God nor determine the eternality of things on our own, because we are not God. Only he can do those things. You and I are humans. Some humans have stars on their bellies, others do not. Some humans are darker shades, some own more things and some are simply more beautiful to look at. Some were given greater intelligence, some more strength… but in all of these things, you must understand that those things are NOT who you ARE. They are simply what you HAVE. What you are is a human being, once in communion with the God of creation but fell from that communion and have longed for it ever since. You and I try desperately to solve this problem by seeking a godship within ourselves but the only thing that ever comes from that is hate and destruction and failure on epic levels.
Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches book, after all of the Sneetches have lost everything and paid the price for being something they were not, ends like this:
But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.
So what should we take from this? I’ll let you figure it out. I’ll just say this: Until we all begin to understand who we are and until we learn to repent and turn back to the God we’ve rejected in the Church, we will only find the destruction, poverty and failure in the Church brought on by God by his servant “The Fix It Up Chappie” (whoever that may be in each of our lives). If we can stop this madness now, we will not only find success in the Church and in revealing who Christ actually is in us, but we will also find a sense of unity with the world and a servant mindedness we all need.
¹ Exerpt from “The Sneetches,” paragraph 3, by Dr. Seuss