Thursday, January 7, 2016

Elwood P. Dowd

If you recognize the name Elwood P. Dowd you have undoubtedly seen the movie or play, "Harvey."

The play was written by screenwriter May Coyle Chase and in 1945 won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  It was adapted for the movie by Oscar Brodney and Myles Connolly.  
Jimmy Stewart played the lead role of Elwood P. Dowd,  a middle-aged, amiable and eccentric man whose best friend is an invisible six-foot tall rabbit named Harvey.
According to Elwood, Harvey is a "pooka," a creature from Celtic mythology who is fond of social outcasts.  Since no one else can see Harvey, his family isn't sure if Elwood's obsession with Harvey is a product of his propensity to drink or maybe a mental illness.
Elwood makes a memorable statement in the movie:
"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' --she always called me Elwood -- 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.'  Well, for years I was smart.  I recommend pleasant.  You may quote me."
To me, this is a great statement.  
Now, I realize there are many people who are both smart and pleasant. . .my husband is a wonderful example of such a combination.  But aren't we all tempted to be less than pleasant sometimes?
We each have a choice as to how we respond to situations, places and especially people around us.  How we are perceived speaks great volumes about what is inside of us.  It is often so easy, so tempting, to be gruff or irritable, or even flat with hardly any affect at all.  It takes a bit more to be kind and pleasant.  
For Christians what it takes a bit more of is faith.  Faith that the One who is infinitely kind and exquisitely pleasant lives right inside of us.  It is faith that leads us to the choice to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."  It is faith which leads us to the choice to care about others, about what they care about and to, as Harvey would say, "prefer them."
Perhaps we should phrase it the way the Scriptures do:
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves, (Philippians 2:3.)  
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men, (Hebrews 12:18.)

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