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What Makes the Original MIRACLE ON 34TH Street a Christmas Classic? -  Nerdist

The day after Thanksgiving, we usually watch Miracle on 34th Street. Last night I was so tired, I almost conked out over the keyboard–and I can’t remember how the mystery I was watching got solved, so maybe I did fall asleep.

And we’ve got to go buy groceries.

But! I will do my utmost to bring you Joe Collidge today. There are also some rather more serious issues I want to discuss, but I may have to save that for tomorrow.

Shunning Movies Made by Immoral People

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People who know me know I love the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and they’re always surprised to find out I’ve never seen the Lord of the Rings movies. Well, I don’t want to give any of my time or any of my money to Ian MacKellan, an unrepentant homosexual who brags about defacing Bibles. He plays Gandalf. That’s something I like to forget when I read the books.

So I can appreciate what some of you are saying when you say you don’t want to watch movies made by immoral people. We all have a suspicion, though, that that would rule out most movies. If you’re looking for virtue, Hollywood is probably not the place to start.

I do try to avoid movies that I know have been made by really sleazy people. But it’s not always so simple. In fact, God sometimes uses really sleazy people to do His will on earth. Can good things be done by bad people? I think we must admit they can.

Here at Chez Leester, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of watching two movies in particular: on Friday, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and on Saturday, Miracle on 34th Street. The one movie completely takes my mind off the dreary and disturbing news that I’ve been covering all year. The second never fails to remind me that there are truths that don’t–ahem!–lend themselves to factual analysis.

I watch lots of movies, including ones in which grossly immoral people may have had a hand in making. My calling in this life is to tell stories. To do it well, I must consume stories–lots and lots of stories. There are readers who say that reading one of my books is like watching a movie. Well, you can’t even guess at the number of hours I’ve put into achieving that effect. And I couldn’t do it if I didn’t watch as many movies as I can.

Don’t get me wrong. There is sleaze that I will walk a mile to avoid. And I’ll walk at least half a mile to dodge chick flicks, Serious Mainstream Dramas About Sophisticated People With Painful Personal Problems That They Can’t Solve Because They’re Pinheads, crime movies in which every character is rotten to the core, and several other kinds.

Anyway, I think we can all be thankful that God doesn’t require us to be absolutely perfect before He can make use of us. Serving Him in any way we can is both a glory and a privilege, and even sinners get a crack at it. Who knows? It might be habit-forming.

‘Miracle on 34th Street’

A post-Thanksgiving tradition, here at Chez Leester, is to watch Miracle on 34th Street: not a remake, but the 1947 classic starring John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and little Natalie Wood, with Gene Lockhart as the beleaguered judge and, of course, Ed Gwenn as Kris Kringle, the man who says he’s Santa Claus.

The Book of Hebrews tells us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That’s what this movie is about–faith. And it’s very cleverly done! The more you think about it, the more you really don’t know whether Mr. Kringle is indeed the one and only Santa Claus, or just a sweet old man with a harmless delusion. Writer Valentine Davies kept the question open.

This movie always makes me wonder what self-proclaimed “realists”–like Maureen O’Hara’s character–believe in. It’s obvious that for all their insistence on “absolute truth,” they believe in their own set of fairy tales: Big Science, Big Government, Man-made Climate Change, perfection created by imperfect human beings, and all the rest of that humanistic tommyrot. And in so doing they impoverish themselves–and can never reach out to claim the blessings only obtainable by faith.

The movie limits itself to “faith” in Santa Claus, faith in the power of love and generosity, and faith in one another: but of course we know that true faith leads us to treasures greater by far than these.

And it is the gift of God.

‘Miracle on 34th Street’

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… (Hebrews 11:1)

Here at our place, it’s our custom to watch Miracle on 34th Street after Thanksgiving. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen it. It never grows stale for us.

Just suppose a nice old man insists that he is, in fact, Santa Claus; and that he’s put on trial for his sanity. How could he possibly get out of this jam? It would take a miracle–right?

And a miracle is just what we get. And without any laws of nature being broken, either.

Look, if this story doesn’t stir up your feelings, you’re probably ready for an autopsy.

It’s a parable. It’s a story about faith. It’s what you’d get if someone were to make a movie of Hebrews 11:1. Do yourself a good turn, and see it. Or see it again. It will do you good.