There was more to the spiritual life and work of Charles Schulz than people know.
Stephen Lind is author of A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz. During an interview Monday on American Family Radio, Lind shared that Schulz used his creativity to share his faith.
"He was sometimes shy about sharing that in person, but he found some very provocative and important ways to share that in Peanuts – 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' being perhaps the most poignant and beautiful example of that," he offered.
According to Lind, the segment in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" featuring Linus reciting the second chapter of the Book of Luke almost didn't happen. "His creative partners pushed back and said I don't think you can do that, especially on animation on television. But his response was If we don't do it, who will?"
That special first aired in 1965. Two years earlier, Schulz dabbled in the issue of prayer in school. Lind described the content of that comic strip.
"In 1963, Sally comes from home from school and she says to Charlie Brown, 'Guess what?' He's watching television and says, 'What?' They eventually crouch down behind the crouch and Sally simply says to Charlie Brown, 'We prayed in school today.'
"That's all she says, but Charles Schulz knew that he was speaking to the culture because this was 1963 and this is right the Supreme Court had ruled ... about school-sponsored prayer."
Schulz went on to draw comics for decades. Lind says there are more than 17,000 Peanuts comic strips in the newspapers.
"Over 50 years of drawing comic strips, he couldn't not put his own voice and perspectives into the daily papers," Lind explained. "While he would publicly say that he was just trying to make the readers chuckle, really the truth was that when he had a powerful idea in his head – humorous or pointed – he couldn't not put it in the strips.
"He actually led a Sunday school class for many years [and] he read his Bible frequently. So his spiritual thoughts, often times directly quoting the Bible, came out on the page because that is what was in his head."