I co-teach religion classes at our church and we’re so efficient we were running out of curriculum material! There was also a rumor that our class was considered “boring” so I decided to mix it up a bit before we break for Easter.
I remembered one time in high school we had this really neat choir teacher. One day, seemingly out of the blue, she showed us a video of the Dr. Seuss book “The Sneetches.” I’m guessing based on what I remember from high school it wasn’t out of the blue, it was probably something she saw we needed!
Mind you, we were high schoolers, so this seemed strange at first. Obviously, she knew that we would get it after we watched it, because watching that ten minute video stuck with me!
Anyways, I decided to recreate the lesson and adapt it for our religion class.
The Sneetches are divided into two groups, the star belly Sneetches, who think they are the best on the beaches. The other kind of Sneetches have “no stars upon thars.”
The star belly Sneetches make a big production out of excluding the Sneetches without stars. They held exclusive frankfurter roasts and marshmallow toasts and there’s no way they’re including the Sneetches without stars.
Until one day, Sylvestor McMonkey McBean shows up with his star on and star off machine. The Sneetches get caught up running through these machines to try and keep up with the new star on or star off trend until they have no idea which Sneetches were the originals with stars and which ones weren’t.
This seems like a silly story at face value and that’s why kiddos like it, but it really drives home an important concept.
We exclude and judge people “without stars” at every age. It’s a lifelong lesson we have to keep relearning.
Stars can be Under Armor versus Walmart sweatpants. Or short hair versus long hair. Dark skin and light skin. SUV or beater car. Working or unemployed. Fit or overweight. Catholic or Episcopalian.
Pick your poison.
I knew I wanted to connect this with the Bible, so I found some supporting passages and it wasn’t a hard thing because Jesus’ view on people and Sneetches is reflected in the last line of the book.
“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.”
The Sneetches – Dr. Seuss
If we’re looking to quote Jesus instead of Dr. Seuss, it goes something like this…
…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Oddly enough, based on how we all act, Jesus didn’t say love your neighbor that dresses like you as yourself. Or love your neighbor who thinks the same as you do as yourself. Or love your neighbor who has similar economic standing as yourself. Or sexual orientation or denomination or race. He didn’t specify. Interesting, huh?
If you just glance at any headlines, you don’t find a lot of proof that Jesus didn’t specify who we should love. He didn’t say we should take over the judging for Him. James tells Christians:
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Those Sneetches, they’re tricky little teachers. We could all pick up a thing or two from their story.