VeggieTales, Christianity, and morality

June 6th, 2012  |  Tags: ,  |  1 Comment

Via Gene Veith, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer has recognized the biggest problem with the cartoon series:

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.

Our kids have enjoyed watching a few of the VeggieTales cartoons on Netflix, and they are basically inoffensive. But Andrea and I have both noticed the (lack of) theological grounding therein: the absence of an explicit Christian message in many of the stories renders them pretty hollow. Our goal as parents is not to raise followers of moralistic therapeutic deism with generic American Protestant cultural and aesthetic preferences; it is to raise Christians. There are plenty of places to get the generic “be nice to each other” message (and probably even more places to get the “here are the Bible’s secret investment strategies” message), but that’s neither law nor gospel.

I imagine this was a very difficult realization for Vischer, and am thankful that he is talking about his change of heart. (I have had similar realizations, but never after building a multimedia empire on a premise that I have later felt compelled to repent from!)

(Speaking of Veith, he also recently linked to an outstanding argument about the aesthetic and theology — such as they were — of late pop painter Thomas Kinkade.)