My kid’s watch VeggieTales. Not because they asked me if they could, but because I introduced them to it. They watch it because I put it on for them. But long before I had kids I had strong feelings toward this cartoon starring vegetables and its messages to kids. I had read many opinions by scholarly type people who believed all VeggieTales served to do was teach kids how to be moral, not teach them about the gospel, because you can’t crucify a carrot! So I renounced the idea of my kids ever watching such a show.
So what changed?
Well I had kids. And I had no problem letting my kids watch Sesame Street or the Backyardigans, because they were being taught how to share and say thank you and be patient.
You could say that in a way these shows were teaching my kids morals.
So I had to ask myself the question, who would I rather teach my kids morals? And more importantly who would I rather teach my children the gospel? The answer was easy. Neither! It was my responsibility to teach these things. And if any tv show was going to help me with either of these teaching points I would rather it be morality. The gospel I can happily leave to Chris and I and the church.
VeggieTales became an entertainment option in my home after that.
Don’t get me wrong I have had my share of problems with some of the VeggieTales video’s but for the most part I am fine with them now.
And then I read the biography of the creator of VeggieTales, Phil Vischer. I read about his huge rise and then his dramatic fall, how he filed for bankruptcy and then ultimately lost his company. He wrote about how he hired christians and non-christians in his company and how this affected his leadership both spiritually and professionally. In the end many people were hurt by the poor leadership decisions he made. But he didn’t seem as broken up about the people he had to let go as much as he felt burdened by his unwise dreams to build a “christian Disney Land”.
The book is very well written and I enjoyed reading his story. He is very honest about his failures and how he truly thought he was doing God’s will, only to realize he was actually fulfilling his own personal will based on a false interpretation of one verse in scripture. His story is a lesson in wisdom, obedience and reading scripture in its context.
And last Fall he made the following statement in an interview with World Magazine,
I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . . .
And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.
Can you imagine realizing this, after sinking your entire life into something you felt was God’s will?
I had to highlight that last part because it is so profound. How many of us fall into this thinking just by default. It doesn’t matter if you are a business person or a stay-at-home-mom, we all need to hear that!
Vischer has gone on to create a new program called “What’s In The Bible?” starring puppets. It’s actually really great. It teach’s kids about church history, about how the canon of scripture was compiled and all sorts of other things most adult christians don’t even know. But it is meant to be used as a help for parents.
Without probably meaning to, Phil Vischer has opened my eyes in a new way to the fact that it is our duty as mother’s and father’s to raise our kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord, not VeggieTales or any other “christian” program. We can not rely on them to do our job. It is my call to teach my kids the clear gospel and what it means to be a christian.
Sesame Street and other programs can help me teach them some morals. But they can leave the most important stuff me.