The Tom and Jerry cartoons always bored me. Why would anyone want to watch Tom chase Jerry for more than one episode?
Despite, Tom’s near catches, Jerry almost always outwits Tom. The same story told over and over again gets old.
Or does it? I never grasped Tom and Jerry’s power to hypnotize until my two-year old dragged me onto the sofa with him to watch. That day I understood why the cat-and-mouse franchise just celebrated its 75th birthday.
Right there on the sofa Tom and Jerry taught me three principles we as Christians need to embrace as we preach “Christ and him crucified,” (1 Cor. 1:23).
- Children don’t watch the show to hear a new story. They watch see the old story told in a new and interesting way.
Tom and Jerry’s producers know how to reinvent the classic cartoon without losing its essence. Through updated music and modern animation, its creators keep the story relevant.
Churches must do the same. Creativity doesn’t change our message—it only enhances it. We need to tell the Christ story in a different way.
Books chock full of religious jargon, or “Christian-ese,” fill libraries. We need to find fresh words and replace stale analogies. When we talk to our friends about Christ, we need metaphors that relate to culture.
- My kids watch to see the simple story unfold into new layers.
They find comfort in knowing how the basic story doesn’t change.
And isn’t this true of the gospel? We could live for 500 years and never plumb its depths or appreciate its beauty.
The gospel’s never-ending work in us keeps peeling callouses from our hearts and challenging us to new levels of love and grace.
- The story itself matters.
No one tunes in to see if Tom will actually catch Jerry (although he does a few times). Creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera understood this.
Likewise, Christians need to stand on the conviction the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus matter. But for an example of an old story told afresh, we can look no further than the Cartoon Network.
That day on the sofa I saw Tom dance the flamenco across the screen, in step with a castanet-clad kitty.
My five-year old’s eyes widened, probably anticipating the banana Jerry flings onto the platform.
I don’t remember the rest of the episode. I was too busy watching my son’s belly jiggle in laughter while I savored their wild guffaws, their eyes transfixed on the TV.
**Author Note: This story first appeared on Authenticity Book House’s website.