Winnie the Pooh and the Need for Alternative Visions

Winnie the Pooh and the Need for Alternative Visions February 6, 2017

Winnie the Pooh and the Need for Alternative Visions
A little over four years ago, I conceived the possibility of a “Gospel According to Winnie the Pooh.” At the time, my wife and I had left bucolic Lancaster, Pennsylvania to return to Washington DC to help my son and daughter in law in the wake of the birth of their second grandchild. We relocated to a grand 20 story high rise just off the major thoroughfares into Washington DC. It was all hustle and bustle, and though I loved the city, I longed for a quiet place.

One afternoon as I was carting my then two year old eldest grandson around Friendship Heights, on the edge of DC, we discovered a patch of green, a grove of trees, and a little stream that became for us the One Acre Wood. In the midst of high rises, a boy and his grandfather could find a place to spin dreams and nurture our imaginations. In the One Acre Wood, we talked about Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and the rest of the gang, and created our own little word in the midst of busy Washington DC.

My other inspiration was the hubbub of the nation’s capital – the gridlock, the partisanship, the polarization, and the inability of people with differing viewpoints to have civil conversations. In contrast, the 100 Aker Wood described a Peaceable Realm, where creatures made mistakes, were occasionally small minded and xenophobic, but then recovered their vision and relationships in face to face encounters.
The “Gospel According to Winnie the Pooh” highlights the need for alternative visions. An alternative vision is not an “alternative fact,” or contrary falsehood parading as truth, but a new way of seeing, a contrast with the way things are being done or visualized in the larger world. The alternative vision of the 100 Aker Wood contrasts with name calling, bullying, demeaning, and dividing. It recognizes differences and unique perspectives but sees them as secondary to maintaining positive relationships. Difference can be beautiful. It can challenge and surprise, and sometimes create awkward encounters, but if we prize relationships then the differences of Venus and Mars, conservatives and liberals, activists and contemplatives, can provide new insights if we’re willing to look for common ground.

In the 100 Aker Wood, common ground is found in honoring relationships. Maybe Tigger needs to be unbounced from time to time, maybe we get to know Kanga and Roo as newcomers before fully accepting them into community, maybe Eeyore needs to lighten up, maybe Rabbit needs to let go of control, and Owl listen more, but all these differences lead to contrast and not division. They are all part of the aesthetic whole, the tapestry of life, that makes for creative and enduring community.

At our best, we celebrate in the United States E pluribus unum, from many one, and that is the spirit of the Wood and of a healthy community that builds bridges not walls, respects the gifts of diversity, and welcomes strangers.

The Gospel of Winnie the Pooh invites us to see differently, live differently, and love differently, and seek to be, as a church marquee announces, a place where all are pilgrims but none are strangers.
(For more on the Gospel According to Winnie the Pooh, I invite you to consult

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