Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Veggie Tale's Lost

When I learned that Veggie Tale's were coming to network television, I was so very excited. Their videos, books, movies, CDs and music have been staples in our home since we began having children - and I love the premise of Veggie Tales as a whole. In fact, "God is Bigger than the Boogie Man" was the adopted theme song for my girlfriend who just finished her PhD.

I'm a Jesus girl and my whole household loves Christ, so this is no difficult sell for us. So, when I heard that God was being removed from the Saturday morning expression of the show, my concern was heightened. How do you get morality and Bible based lessons, with no conversation about God or where the morals are coming from? I know that value-based learning, character education and the like are important, but I think we miss the boat when we erase God from the lives of our children. With mixed feelings, I later decided that faced with Saturday morning with or without the potential showing of Veggie Tales - I'd take it in any form. My mistake.

For years Veggie Tales have been a part of my teaching at Children's Church and Nursery, and this past weekend we went to the latest show for the big screen. The Pirate's Who Don't do Anything - didn't do much for me either. As for our three children - they had varying levels of enjoyment, but we discussed it both at home and leaving the theatre - and they were completely aware that God was left out. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. The moral plays that have been introduced into theaters lately have been willing to push the envelope. The Golden Compass was one of the most recent examples of when morality goes wrong - as Atheist fare was presented as a work for children. I think we owe it to ourselves to more aggressively push for message movies that actually have a real message. We should vote with our dollars - it speaks volumes in any venue.

At a time when our children are facing so much, I personally would prefer a big screen VEGGIE TALE'S Movie stick to the original script. By original script, I mean clarity of purpose, good entertainment, amazing music and something worth watching. This one doesn't offer the true values based teaching we've come to love and appreciate, and it can't compete with Finding Nemo, Toy Story, The Incredible's or Polar Express for offering both entertainment for adults and children. Three vegetables being transported to an earlier time when they discover their inner hero - it just can't compete. While I don't begrudge the money I spent, I won't be providing any ringing endorsements. When I was growing up in church they wanted to burn all of our music - until a Sunday School teacher asked, "And replace it with what?" So, when I want to reinforce the values we hold true - we have to skip Hollywood Million Dollar marketing investments for Golden Compass and others. The question is, replace it with what.

I look to The Prince of Egypt, a family favorite of ours - or a host of Veggie Tale CDs of yesterday, and I know that we can accomplish the task of teaching values and morals in a different way. I thought the movie was just too light and lacked the engagement for multiple age groups and levels. Not following a Bible based story is fine, but skipping a basis for where the values come from - well, Hollywood surely doesn't need any more of that. In this new year, I hope that we are able to get back to the basics. I hope that the writers and producers of Veggie Tales will do the same.

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