Thursday, September 20, 2012

What the Cat in the Hat Teaches Us About Temptation - Part 1

If you are like me, the classic Dr. Seuss story The Cat in the Hat was a childhood favorite.  It is a fun story.  It can be read and thoroughly enjoyed on that level alone. The story can also be read on an entirely different level.  

I doubt that anyone would call Dr. Seuss a great theologian.  No one would consider him to be a doctrinal expert. Although I am absolutely certain that Dr. Seuss did not intend his well-loved book to be a picture of how people can find their lives totally messed up by sin, it still works as an illustration.  What do I mean? 

The Set-up

First, the boy telling the story and his sister Sally are alone at home, bored, and disgruntled that they cannot do any of the activities they would normally enjoy because it is raining.  What a set-up for temptation!  

It isn’t just children who find themselves tempted into mischief when they are bored and unhappy with life.  We adults are like that, too.  It is at times when we are lonely, sick, angry, bored, hurt, or otherwise dissatisfied that we are especially vulnerable to temptation.

And then…BUMP! Enter the Cat in the Hat.  To the kids in the story, he was a six foot tall cat with a weird red and white striped hat who offered them lots of games and tricks that would give them some fun on a rainy day.   

To us, the cat can appear in many different forms
  • a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer
  • a pill
  • a drink
  • a quick visit to a questionable website
  • a private lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex
  • extra hours at work
  • a seemingly “innocent” fantasy.…  
The list goes on. Anything that promises to relieve the boredom, dull the pain, fill the emptiness.  They offer something fun and exciting as an alternative to the less enjoyable feelings we may be experiencing at the moment.

Unprepared for the Encounter

Throughout the story, over and over again, the kids don’t know what to say to the cat’s suggestions.  They weren’t prepared for a six foot tall feline in odd-looking headgear to enter the scene with an offer of entertainment.  They had not been prepared to firmly tell any intruder to get lost.  No, they let the cat stick around and keep talking.  

We can fall into the same trap. When we have not made up our mind ahead of time that certain things are not to be allowed into our lives, we can find ourselves letting our personal “cat in the hat” stick around and begin to wreak havoc in our lives.  


Today, we have seen how certain scenarios leave us vulnerable to temptation. We have also seen how the lack of a decisive response to the initial temptation allows the Tempter to stick around and keep talking.

Tomorrow, we will consider how the Holy Spirit, our "fish", uses our consciences to sound the alarm ... and how the Tempter, our "cat", uses tactics of his own to silence the protest. Please come back for more of the story.

What about you? 
What kind of scenarios leave you particularly vulnerable to temptation? When your conscience sounds the alarm, what tactics does the Tempter use to silence it?  

I invite you to share your experience or thoughts in the comments.

(Photo from


  1. Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) is one of my heros--with how easily he blended deep controversial issues into silly lyrical poems. He was a moralist, so I'm sure while he might not have thought of these actions as "sin" he probably was thinking of "temptations" like vices. Still makes for a nice little lesson, though. Easily transferable to my little girls about how we are all tempted by the enemy; and how it rarely looks that bad.

    1. As you say, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)would not have been thinking in terms of "sin". Even so, the parallel jumped out at me on one read to my daughter.

      In my next post, we'll take a look at "the fish in the pot". If the cat can represent temptation, who or what is the "fish"? What happens when we don't listen to him?

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment here. It is encouraging to hear from readers.


Any thoughts on this post? I would love to hear from you.

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