I imagine that I’m not the only one who grew up in a conservative evangelical home watching Big Idea‘s “Veggie Tales” series. Even though I’m in college now and away from home, I’m around kids enough to know that it still has a lot of entertainment value for the 2-to-9 year-old demographic. It’s changed a lot too; while I grew up with Dave and the Giant Pickle, LarryBoy, and God is Bigger Than the Boogieman, my five-year-old brother watches pop culture parodies with cute adjusted names like Minnesota Cuke, Sheerluck Holmes, and of course the abominable Lord of the Rings parody called Lord of the Bean.
The show uses large, talking vegetables to teach watered-down versions of Bible stories using lots kid humor, music, and pop culture references. It’s really a manifestation of the “Christ against culture” reasoning, namely, that Christian kids need their own entertaining Christian cartoons.
When I was a kid, I thought it was great, but I had a friend who wasn’t allowed to watch it because his parents said it trivialized Christianity. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowly moved closer to my friend’s position (partly because I learned what “trivialize” meant).
There’s a lot to be said for that. Recently, I’ve developed a tentative discomfort with the show, even the ones from my time that actually told Bible stories rather than silly reinterpretations of whatever is popular in the secular world. Of course we want our kids to hear Bible stories. But do we really want them to learn about Daniel and the lion’s den from a quirky and absent-minded cucumber? What will they think of when they hear about the real Daniel, learning that he didn’t actually have pizza with the lions after they didn’t harm him? And consider the dubious trivialization of David’s adultery — comparing the real David’s tragic lust and subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband with Larry the Cucumber’s longing for an ever-growing collection of rubber duckies. What are we doing to these kids?
They’ve not made one show about Jesus (and don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly want them to), but how can anything claim to be Christian without ever talking about Jesus Christ? It seems less a Christian storytime and more of a moralistic lesson glazed with some Bible verses put to corny songs at the end of every show (and they don’t even do that much anymore).
So I’m just wondering: Do you think Veggie Tales is simply innocent Christian entertainment for kids? Or is it a dangerously simplistic treatment of our faith?