My daughters are in full rebellion — against VeggieTales!
Monday afternoon my girls found themselves looking for a movie to watch as a reward for hard work completed. My suggestion was Veggietales. I love Veggietales and our girls were raised watching the movies. They loved them. So, imagine my surprise when my 8-year-old looked at me, with incredulity, and said, “We’re too old for Veggietales.”
I didn’t think at 5 and 8 they could be too old for Veggietales, but what do I know?
This was her position and like a political party falling in line, she was quickly joined in agreement by her younger sisters. “Yeah. We’re too old for Veggietales!” I didn’t fight it. We kept digging, finally discovering “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” – a story I’m certain no one could be too old for.
I understand why they thought they were too old for Veggietales. It has all the trappings of early childhood and is marketed to children and the parents of young children. It’s not that the stories aren’t good and useful, it’s that there’s a basic childishness about them. And not childish in the child-like sense — pure, innocent, open to experience. Rather, they’re childish in the sanitized, not-quite-true, sheltered sense.
For instance, when Veggietales tells the story of Esther, Queen Vashti is dismissed for her failure to make King Xerxes a sandwich. In reality, she refused to give Xerxes and his friends a lapdance.
It’s appropriate to do that for children. I’m glad they do.
Sanitizing the scripture and life with God is completely inappropriate, though, for those of us who actually are too old for VeggieTales.
A few months ago, Lifeway Christian Stores decided to no longer sell the movie, The Blind Side? Disregarding the redemptive message of a thoroughly Christian family and the living illustration of the love of God in the film, some uptight, Pharisaical folks became upset the chain was selling a movie with “bad language.” This move was condemned by Christians across theological spectrum.
Even more recently, Lifeway has chosen to not carry Rachel Held Evans‘ soon-to-be-released book, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. Why would they choose to withhold Rachel’s book? She uses the word “vagina.”
You Had Me At Vagina
Right now you’re asking some questions: “Does she use the word derogatorily? Is she saying it pornographically? Is she using it as a name to call someone?” Well, no. She’s using the word to call a vagina a vagina.
Eight years ago, my wife, Rochelle and I went to a parenting lecture at a local baptist church. Near the end there was a participant Q&A. One parent asked a question about a behavior that was unnerving her about her young daughter. In referring to her underpants, the young child called her panties, “panties.” Her mother was flummoxed. Rightfully, the lecturer asked, “What do you want her to call them?”
In the same way, Rochelle was once invited to a gathering of Christian women playing Bunco. At one point, the conversation turn to male anatomy (I think someone’s husband was having a surgery). The women in the group began to refer to the male-member as “pee-pee,” “ding-dong,” “junk,” and so on. At this point, Rochelle said, “Are you all talking about a penis?”
The women were shocked by her “language” — as if Rochelle had peed in someone’s pool — by saying “penis.”
This is the same reaction we experienced when a Bible class teacher pulled us aside to inform us that our daughter had referred to a vagina as, um, a vagina. We responded, “She called it that because that’s what it is.”
What Do You Want Her To Call It?
This issue is bigger than what Lifeway will and will not sell. Dave Kinnamon and Gabe Lyon’s book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, highlights Christian’s sheltered nature as a key reason young people are not embracing the faith. Is it any wonder this is happening when we routinely and predictably treat everyone like children? We don’t deal with the reality in front of us.
As a result, we send our children out into the world with VBS faith that cannot bear the weight of thoughtful questions posed by smart people who are suspicious of or investigating Christian claims. Armed only with Vashti’s refusal to make a sandwich, young people’s faith quickly evaporates like a shallow pool in the desert.
I’m not advocating being shocking or edgy, I’m just advocating reality.
The Apostle Paul once wrote about putting childish things away. Yet Christians systematically choose the childish thing over the adult and mature thing. Yes, it is more childish to call a vagina a “who-ha” and to call a penis a “ding-dong” than it is call them by their appropriate names. And it’s worse to act as if they don’t exist or are taboo. No wonder teenagers turn to one another to discover and discuss sexuality, their parents don’t even know what the right terms are.
When I go to the doctor, I don’t expect him or her to call my penis “junk.”
It is time for us to get past VeggieTales faith. It is time for us to discern the difference between Godly righteousness and the ignorance of blinders.
What say you?