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How many of you have seen the modern-day Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story?” It’s a great movie about one family’s Christmas season and a little boy’s mission to receive the Cadillac of BB guns as a present. The Miano family watches this movie every year. Whenever I see the scene of Ralphie being forced to try on the bunny pajamas, I think of the purple turtleneck sweaters my grandmother would get me every year. I hated those sweaters—and I had to wear them whenever grandma came over.


The movie is filled with scenes that will take you back to the nostalgia of your childhood. Another such scene is one in which the tongue plays a prominent role. The scene involves Ralphie, whose adult counterpart narrates the entire movie, and Ralphie’s friends, Flick and Schwartz.


We find the three boys, along with a bunch of other kids, huddled around the school flagpole. It is a cold and snowy day, and everyone is bundled up like Eskimos. The scene begins with Schwartz trying to convince Flick that his tongue would stick to the flagpole. Flick told Schwartz he was “full of it.” Schwartz responds by issuing a “double-dog dare” to Flick. The camera pans to Ralphie and the group of kids who all gasp at the challenge.


Flick is momentarily taken aback by the challenge, but quickly smiles and says that it would be stupid for him to put his tongue on the flagpole. The narrator returns and explains the etiquette of the dare. He explains that proper form would be to follow his “double-dog dare” with a “triple-dare-you.” If this challenge was not met, then, and only then, should Schwartz go to the worst of the worst—“the triple-dog dare.”


But Schwartz, determined to see his friend’s tongue stuck to the flagpole, goes for the jugular and, with the authority of a nine-year-old, issues a “triple-dog dare.” You can see the panic on Flick’s face as he realizes that he has no choice but to place his tongue on the flagpole. To do otherwise, to refuse a “triple-dog dare” challenge, would be tantamount to playground cowardice.


So with some false bravado, and a lot of uncertainty, Flick sticks out his tongue and touches it to the flagpole. Any guesses as to what happened? Yep. It stuck like a bug on flypaper. Of course, Flick panicked and started to squeal like a little girl (no offense ladies). The school bell rang, which made it convenient for Flick’s good friends, Ralphie and Schwartz, along with all of the other kids, to scramble back to class, leaving Flick alone in his moment of shame and pain.


Pride got in the way of Flick making a wise decision. Pride caused Flick to say and do things he should not have done. The moral of the story is that the pride of the tongue, the pride of speech, if you will, can stick us with some very serious consequences. And this is what James addresses in verse one and the first half of verse two, in chapter three.

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