When I was a boy, Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were part of the cultural background, largely through Disney cartoons, but I don’t think I ever read either of the books (they were about a girl, after all).
I did, however, recently see Tim Burton’s angular interpretation of the classic stories in his movie version of Alice in Wonderland. My favorite line in the movie came when the young woman Alice, who had been shrunk at the time, first met the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Doormouse at their thoroughly bonkers outdoor tea party. Alice, we learn, had been to Underland (which she called “Wonderland”) as a child, but had forgotten it.
Later, when Alice indicates that she has no interest in slaying the Jabberwocky, the Hatter was disappointed, and he remarked: “You’ve lost your muchness. You were much more muchier before . . .”
I liked the line because it has a Hebrew ring — in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, when Moses told Israel to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (NIV), the word translated “strength” actually means something like “muchness.” It’s usually an adjective used to mean something like “great” or “very much.” As a substantive, then, its basic meaning is “muchness.”
I won’t try to analyze what it was that Alice had lost, but it occurs to me that Lent is a good time for Christians to ask if we have lost any “muchness” in our love for God. Was there a time when we were “muchier” in our faith, our commitment, our service?
Tea party food for thought.