Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's Chick-fil-A's fault, really.

In our house, we have a strict rule - no banality in the car. No Wee Sing, no Laurie Berkner (though I personally find Laurie Berkner delightful), and no - NO - VeggieTales. If we're going to hear the same song 843 times in a row, let's at least let is be Amos Lee or John Mayer or Jars of Clay (Silas' most recent unending request). Is that too much to ask?

Chick-fil-A didn't get the memo. VeggieTales CDs are the current prize in their kids' meals. My children were thrilled - Brian and I, not so much. But for the past few days, at least, King George and the Rubber Ducky has been on quasi-repeat (though I reserve the right to say, "No, boys, I just can't listen to Larry the Cucumber right now. How about a little Red Mountain Church instead?").

I have to tell you guys, the more I listen to it, the more offended I become.

It's a g-rated, Veggie Tale version of the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. You can find it on youtube if you want to know more. First of all, the idea of Bathsheba as a ducky - a piece of property, that someone wanted and so they took - is thoroughly offending, but I think in this respect they are more historically accurate than I would like to admit. What's more offending is how sanitized the story is. David didn't just go apologize to Uriah and make things better; he had Uriah KILLED, and the infant son born to David and Bathsheba DIED as a result of David's sin. He also never had peace in his home again. Now it's worth noting that the second born son of David and Bathsheba was Solomon, who was known for his wisdom and, in this regard at least, was the antithesis of his origin. It's a beautiful story, ultimately, of repentance and redemption. But it is not cute. It is not neat. And the attempts to make it so cheapen its meaning.

It's like the way all children's ministry curricula want to talk about Moses and Pharaoh. Yes, it's exciting - flies and water into blood catch our attention, for sure. But it's so gruesome and frankly, a little bit scary. I'm reminded of a line from the West Wing. "Children are dead and then you segue into what." It's a story of God's power and faithfulness, but is it really appropriate for three-year-olds?

I'm just not sure why we do this. Why sanitize these Old Testament stories and fit them into ten minute segments? And why does everyone start children off with burning bushes and plagues of flies? I understand types and shadows; I understand the value of knowing Old Testament stories. But they don't. They won't understand symbolism until sometime around high school. So what are we teaching them, really? Wouldn't a better basis for Christian education perhaps be the central figure of the Christian faith? There's a lot more to Jesus than "suffer the children to come unto me," you know.

Now I'm just ranting. But I grew up in churches with a wimpy Jesus and disjointed, meaningless stories. Imagine my shock to realize there was more to the Bible than VBS ever let on. I know better now, but it took years to undo the senseless and, frankly, boring God I first imagined. I want my children to know better, too.

I think we'll just stick with Lyle.


Madame Rubies said...

King George is my favorite Veggie Tale for the very reason you don't like it. LOL! At the end, when King George gives away all of his extra duckies, I picture David giving away his concubines around town, and I cannot help but giggle.

Clearly, I have a sick sense of humor sometimes.

We listen almost exclusively to audio books in the car. We have been listening to Baum's Oz books, thanks to Librivox.

Madame Rubies said...

PS Madeliene L'Engle said, if a story is too difficult for adults, write it for children. That quote is exactly why I write stories for kids instead of grown ups.

I think we tell these stories to kids b/c it is a start. They learn to recognize names and places. As they get older, they get more of the story. Sort of the way you will tell a small child that babies are made from a mom and dad loving each other or some other vague thing. As they get older, they get more details.

Madame Rubies said...

PS The worst story we pretty up for kids has to be Samson. What a big jerk -insert cuss words here-.

Stephanie said...

It is a start, but is it the best introduction to our faith?

I don't mind hearing the stories in the car; we need to do more with audio books, too. Though Asher hates them at home (have you ever heard of such a thing? Me neither).

Kendra said...

I need to have David read this post. We read Luke and Abbey a story from the Children's Bible each night before bed, and he gets so upset as he reads. It refers to slaves as "helpers" and such. I guess I never really gave it much thought's what's always been done.

But you are right, that doesn't necessarily mean it's what is best.

Lisa said...

Oh so, so true. We need to shield our kids from some of the ugly things in life, but I don't feel the need to shield our daughter from the realities that she will need to face. Every week, we go to Mass and sit in the front pew on the side with the life-sized, crucifix right in front of us. Our crucifix is not a sanitized, artsy depiction. It is a bloody man with nails in his feet and wrists and a gash in his side. And, many weeks, Olivia asks the same question. "Why is Jesus bleeding?" Only now, having been given the answer, she answers the question herself. "Because the soldiers cut him? Because he died? But he's OK now because he's God and he rose up." She still asks questions about why the soldiers did that, and she doesn't understand fully (obviously), but I don't go with boiling the stories down to cutesy, easily dismissed morality tales about sharing and being nice. Christianity is not about being "nice". It's about telling the Truth, even when it means turning over a few tables in the marketplace and making people angry. It's about relationship with Christ and how that changes who you are. And such lessons start from childhood. Not when they are old enough to watch PG-13 movies.