Horton Theology

No, this is not a post about my seminary professor Dr. Michael Horton’s theological mind. Instead, I’m delving into the movie Horton Hears a Who, an adaptation of Theodor Geisel’s (better known as Dr. Seuss) 1954 book with the same title. Certainly, Dr. Seuss books contributed much to my children’s early reading skills.

Dr. Seuss’s most popular picture-books for children have been misappropriated by various interest groups such as environmentalists, democrats, communists and anti-fascists, and pro-war and anti-war activists. But the most well-known misuse of his work is by anti-abortion activists who use a quote from Horton the elephant, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Though Horton was a response against the atomic bomb, anti-abortionists hijack it as an anti-abortion allegory.1 Dr. Seuss’s wife, Audrey Geisel, says the couple never wanted his books to be used for political purposes, but I doubt that this is entirely true since he was a political cartoonist for several New York magazines.

Having no pre-conceived thoughts about the political or theological inclinations of Dr. Seuss, my thoughts during the movie floated to Psalm 8:3-6, as Horton and the jungle animals debated the reality of Whoville in a speck of dust:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.

The earth is but just a speck in the Milky Way, and if God is not omniscient, He wouldn’t even see the planet earth that he created and populated by creatures he made after His own image. “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust” (Isa 40:15). The psalmist and the prophet are overwhelmed with the thought that this lowly “speck of dust” called man was the crown of God’s infinite creation, even made in His image.

And since Jesus is the true image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), then us humans are reflections of the eternal glory, holiness, righteousness and wisdom of God and Christ. What’s even more amazing is that out of all this vast, wondrous universe, God humbly came down from heaven, “taking the form of a servant… and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” to save this speck of dust from eternal destruction (Phil 2:7-8). If I were to turn Horton into a Christian allegory, Horton the Elephant would have to sacrifice his life to save Whoville from total destruction, no thanks to that devil, Sour Kangaroo.

1As claimed by A. O. Scott, “Sense and Nonsense,” New York Times Magazine, November 26, 2000.

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