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You’re Too Old For VeggieTales

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.

My oldest daughter on her way to VeggieTales Live in 2006. Good times.

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.”

Seriously.

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?

 

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  • I’ve been concerned for some time that we believers don’t call sin what it is — sin. But in a subculture where we are perpetually stalled by the fear that we might offend by using someone else’s no-no word, I guess it’s understandable. And still inexcusable.

  • I have felt for so long that we end up stuck in childish versions of our faith and the bible (which is one reason why I called my blog “Renewing Your Mind”). I think that it also may have to do with being a welcoming and *safe* place for adults new to faith. Partly, I think that we’re often so focused on numbers and making worship fun and interesting and entertaining that we just don’t seem to have time to grow up.

  • Word.

    A few years ago I was in a training that dealt with sexual abuse and they talked about the importance of teaching your kids the actual words for body parts. It’s a foundation for being able to have honest, real discussions about sexuality. It also drops the veil of discomfort we have that our kids quickly pick up on. It sends the message that these are normal parts of our bodies and it’s safe to talk about them. That becomes invaluable when keeping kids safe from abuse and dealing with the unfortunate aftermath.

  • Trey

    Maybe hat we need is a little immersion therapy. Maybe we should all say penis 100 times a day and vagina a 100 times a day. Here’s let start now…

    penis penispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenispenis

    vagina vaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavaginavagina

    There, did that help? 🙂

    Oh, and the way my language has evolved in the last couple of years, I might get banned from Lifeway, too.

    • Ok, Trey.

      I saw your comment come through and almost automatically deleted it, thinking it was spam. When I check my comments cue, I see those words a lot, but never in a legitimate comment. 🙂

  • Matt

    Another way we do this is by making everything into lists that we memorize and practice. Once we know the list, we know just enough of the story. Knowing the listing of the 66 books in the Bible is not the same a knowing the Bible. The 5 acts of worship, the 5 steps to salvation. We simplify it for easy memorization as a child or new Christian and then never go beyond that to get the “rest of the story”.

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