Re-visiting a childhood favorite

originally posted February 7th, 2013

You know when you watch a movie or read a book that, when you were 7, had a completely different meaning for you then than it does at, say, 27? It’s that weird mixture of nostalgia and epiphany that gets me. Some word or phrase from a book jumps out and impacts me like it never did in my youthful innocence.

So it is with Calvin & Hobbes. I recently read an article that revisits the beloved comic 17 years after its final strip. The article discusses the strips from New Year’s Eve, a topic that Bill Watterson regularly used. Appropriate reading, I think, with Lent just around the corner. (Second Chance New Year’s Resolutions anyone?)

As a youngster I identified more with the strips that had Calvin and Hobbes in various adventures, running from snow goons or transforming into Good Calvin, or even the ones where they drop water balloons on poor Susie. It wasn’t until years later that the philosophical strips (the “boring” ones) had meaning.

The article linked to a series of essays on the Theology of Calvin and Hobbes, which as a confessed (ha) church nerd I ravenously devoured. Seriously, it is delicious. My favorite was in part five, when he compares Calvinball to the koinonia in the early Church.

It might seem to be a stretch to connect Calvinball with Acts 2, but let’s go with it. The connection I’m making is this. Calvinball and the church represent a kind of “coming out of” a world of competition and zero-sum adversarialness. Calvinball and the church represent a place were a new kind of game is played. A game that is built around a different set of dynamics than the ones we find in the world. Specifically, it’s a game that is built around koinonia rather than competition.

Like Calvinball, the church aims to create a game centered on trust, community, and joy.

How fun is this? I hope you all enjoy reading that as much as I did.

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