Faith, Family, and God: Rudolph the (wrong message) Reindeer

By Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist-

Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer(released in 1964) that generations love and grow up watching sours my eggnog. It curdles my cream. I don’t like it. It sends the wrong message about family values. Sam, the snowman who narrates, is verrry annooooooying. Put him in a park, unleash the dogs, and let nature take its course. Melt him into yellow, steamed oblivion. Cats can supervise perched on windowsills from within warm homes.No, I have not had too much rum twirled with a special candy cane prior to writing this column. Nor have I had sugar cookies made with psychedelic mushrooms. I have, however, been thinking about fruitcake with nuts and cherries, but I digress.

I realize that I’m probably one of the very few who doesn’t like Rudolph. The movie is cute. On the surface there is an alluring charm. The deeper message, however, is that you must be useful to be loved. A much better story is How the Grinch Stole Christmas (released in 1966). I’ll get to it later.

In Rudolph, the reindeer can’t play in games because his nose is too bright. His father dulls the nose with dirt. Rudy sounds like a kid from the Bronx. Dad is embarrassed despite knowing that Rudolph can fly higher and better than any adolescent. Eventually, the mud on the nose falls off and all hell breaks loose.

Rudolph runs off because even Santa doesn’t like him. Meanwhile Hermey the elf is conditioned to think like a robot on an assembly line. He resists. Hermey doesn’t want to be a mindless drone on a factory line and runs away. The elf wants to be a dentist. Awwww. Better than a lawyer.

He later meets Rudolph. They spend time on the island of Dr. Moreau for toys. Later, Rudy convinces Santa, the guy who is supposed to bring joy, love, peace, and goodwill to all, that he has to find homes for misfit toys. Santa, who helps define the holiday, has been oblivious to this need for love, acceptance, and compassion for a long time.

The elf and deer are later accepted in Ho-Ho Land because the masses need them. The elf corrects dental problems. The reindeer has a glowing nose who can guide Santa’s sleigh without which there will be a public relations disaster because Christmas will be cancelled. The elf and reindeer weren’t accepted for what they were, but for the value they offered.

In sharp contrast is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The Grinch is icky green with a very small heart. He smells from head to toe. His breath would melt stainless steel. He is a lonely, unloved, pathetic yet loveable creature. The Grinch tries to deny joy to some small village of peculiar happy-go-lucky creatures. In his effort to deny the beauty and pleasures of the holiday season he learns that no matter how annoying, distasteful, or frightening some find him, there is always someone who will unconditionally love him.

His heart bursts with love. All Christmas trees, meals, and presents he stole from Whoville are returned. Life is not about taking. It is about giving – joy, hope, acceptance, and unconditional love.

Watch Rudolph followed by The Grinch, both the cartoon and the movie. If you agree with me, you’ll throw Rudolph into the fire place. It will add to your holiday ambiance. Just don’t choke on the toxic fumes. The Grinch represents the true holiday spirit. Peace and blessings to you and your family now and always. The Creator loves you and your family unconditionally.

* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY. His book Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom, is available on He may be reached at



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