Oh, The Places You'll Go

There is an enduring quality to the works of Dr. Seuss.

On March 2, fans of the beloved author will celebrate the anniversary of his birth. Kids of all ages clamor for “Cat in the Hat” parties and public readings of his works.

Seuss’ was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904 in Springfield, Mass. He published his first book, “And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” in 1937.

Today, his books are still published in dozens of languages. Some charts rank his “Green Eggs and Ham” as third on the list of the best-selling English language books of all time, second to Webster’s dictionary and King James Version of the Bible. There was even a Latin edition of “Green Eggs and Ham” published in 2004, which sold more than 600,000 copies.

While considered a children’s author, many of Seuss’ works carried underlying adult themes. According to biographers Judith and Neil Morgan, Seuss purposely infused books like “The Lorax,” “Horton Hears a Who” and “The Sneetches” with his political beliefs on environmentalism, isolationism and racial intolerance.

Some of us take Seuss’ content and view it through our own lens, too, adding even more meaning to the beloved stories.

Consider “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” It’s written in a way that makes it easy to apply to a host of milestones. As a result, it’s often given as a gift for births, baptisms, marriage and more.

One blogger received a special copy of the book for her high school graduation many years ago. Hers contained handwritten Bible verses that corresponded to the story.

For example, there is a page with a confusing series of paths, accompanied by the words, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where you go.”

Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path” is written on one of the page’s paths.

It may then be natural to infer religious and moral themes from Seuss’ works.

You could read “The Lorax” — “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not” — and expound on its moral imperative. Or take “Kid, you’ll move mountains” from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” from a spiritual perspective.

The Rev. Robert L. Short wrote “The Parables of Dr. Seuss,” in which he mines the “subtle messages of Christian doctrine” contained in stories like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Short’s book frames Seuss as a “first-class Christian-thinker.” For example, Short likens Horton from “Horton Hears a Who” as a savior figure.

“I was amazed at what I found when I started looking at it — all this Christian imagery was very carefully factored into his stories,” Short told the Associated Press after the book’s publication.

The retired Presbyterian minister also wrote similar books based on Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts Gang” and did presentations on “Calvin and Hobbes” and the last episode of “Cheers.”

Some pair Short’s Seuss book with “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss” by the Rev. James W. Kemp, a retired United Methodist pastor. This book contains Bible studies, and a reader guide is available.

Email me or follow me at Twitter.com/karrisgolden for links to Seuss-themed games, printables, event information and the Bible-verse “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Golden writes The Courier’s weekly faith and values column. Email her at onfaith@karrisgolden.com.


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