The Night of the Meek

Night of the MeekIt’s Christmas Eve, my friends! And tomorrow would have been Rod Serling’s 89th birthday. And I think that everyone should spend a half-hour and watch the best Christmas television show of all time, the 11th episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone (47th overall), “The Night of the Meek.” It was unfortunately shot on video, so unlike most episode that were shot on film, the quality is bad. But it stars Art Carney and it presents the best idea of Christmas ever.

Forget about Linus’, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” This is the real deal. Let us all get past the notion that this is a religious holiday, because that makes it exclusive, even if you are a believer. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not say anything about belief. He actually provides us with a kind of fairy tale, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” He says many other things about the justice that should exist in this unjust world. And that’s what ties us all together: that wish—that desire.

A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas, and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek, and a merry Christmas to each and all.

Tonight let us all be Henry Corwin, as seen in this full episode video:

Afterword

Yes, I have written about this before: Bitterness and Sentimentality.

Update (24 December 2013 9:53 pm)

After watching this episode again, I had a few thoughts. First is that the episode was not especially kind to a very typical kind of “Christian charity.” I don’t see any grace in Sister Florence. And the whole, “If you wanna get fed, you’re gonna listen to a sermon” is no kindness. What’s more, when an honest to God miracle happens, all she can think of is criminality. That, I suppose, is understandable. But wouldn’t any decent person—certainly any person with Christian grace—handle the matter in a way other than running to the police?

My second thought is that this episode does go along with what we hear from conservative Christians: that Christmas shouldn’t be about commercialism. “The reason for the season,” and all that. But it doesn’t substitute it with any kind of religious dogma. There is none of that, “We should care about Christmas because it is a celebration of the birth of our savior.” (I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow!) It is a simple message that comes to us from Jesus, but can be found many other places: the meek (“gentle” in my favored New American Standard Bible) matter and are even powerful. I hope we can all agree on that.

And my third thought is that the episode was very pro-booze! Note how in the end, Mr Dundee and Officer Flaherty make friends by getting drunk. And Dundee seems like a human being for the first time. Of course, Henry Corwin doesn’t need to drink anymore. Because he had the wisdom to wish well.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “The Night of the Meek

  1. The Peanuts’ Christmas Special. HATE IT. Even as a child I thought it was cloying and depressing.

    Just thought I’d share.

  2. @Andrea – More than that, it is preachy. One could certainly say that "The Night of the Meek" is cloying. But I think it avoids that because Henry Corwin is a drunk.

    I really like when he says that he can either drink or weep, and drinking is so much more subtle. I think there is deep wisdom there about addictions generally. Since I gave up drugs, no one can shut me up. Doing drugs were more subtle–no question of that.

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