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VEGGIE TALES VS SOUTH PARK
(aka A Primer in Sacred vs Secular)

As a Pastor I am continually suprised at how Christian people today mix and mingle different doctrinal and ethical categories. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear the Law preached as Gospel and vice versa. A church will tell you that God loves you no matter what and if you would just say a prayer or walk an aisle He will forgive you of all your sins. However, once the new convert has "accepted" Christ, it is only a matter of days before the church lays down the house "rules"-no this, no that, or do this and do that. This is a mingling of the Law and Gospel. Or think of how many Christian folk do not understand the concept of the Protestant work ethic(the notion that we all bring glory to God in whatever profession we find ourselves in) and we go in search of "Christian" plumbers, "Christian" aerobics, etc., How disappointed we are when we find the work to be less than satisfactory. Not only do we still have to go and find a "worldly" plumber, but we have to face the facts that the name and witness of Christ has been diminished.

Another area that is mixed and not clearly understood is that of Sacred and Secular. It is this area I would like to examine. To do so I want to contrast two popular animated series, Veggie Tales and South Park. For those of you who are unfamiliar with one or either of these shows, allow me to give a brief description of each.

Veggie Tales-In this computer generated animated show, different talking vegetables act out various Bible stories and ethical lessons. There are also musical numbers.

South Park-This is a cartoon that deals with the fictional town of South Park, Colorado. The main characters are four eight year old boys. Each episode revolves around the dysfunctional and downright loony citizens of the town and the adventures they find themselves in.

Now for you who have seen both of the shows, you know immediately the contrast between the two. Veggie Tales is sweet, innocent, and attempts to teach morals and Biblical lessons. South Park, on the other hand, is an obnoxious, rude show with a fair share of cussing and toilet humor. Having said this, let me ask you a question-which show has more value? I'm sure most if not all of you answered Veggie Tales. But would you be suprised(or even outraged) if I told you that South Park has more value? Would you even consider reading on if I told you that South Park has more integrity than Veggie Tales could ever hope to muster? If I have your attention, read on...

You see, the problem with Veggie Tales is that is crosses the lines between Sacred and Secular. It wants to be both, and in doing so, can be neither. To better clarify this let me give a brief description of the categories of Sacred and Secular.

Sacred-That which was designed or decreed by God to have a special purpose in teaching or edifying the body of Christ.

Secular-That which is outside the realm of the church or the body of Christ, and is intended for the City of Man or for secular consumption.

Much more could be said about these two categories, but with these descriptions in mind, let's look at Veggie Tales vs South Park.


Veggie Tales

Veggie Tales is one of many video products intended to be used by Christian parents in the US. Others include Peter Rabbit, Mother Goose, Bibleman, etc., The logic is that kids need to be entertained, but as Christians we don't want our kids seeing a bunch of garbage, so why not kill two birds with one stone and let them watch videos that not only entertain but also teach Biblical values. The problem is this-God has not ordained videos to be the teachers of our children. God has ordained parents and pastors to be their teachers. Look at this verse for a quick reminder of what God expects:

"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."(Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

It is the responsibility of the parents to teach the children, not a videotape of dancing vegetables. But perhaps the videoplayer has become not only a babysitter but also an instructor these days. Don't get angry! But think about it-who instructed the children of Israel in their heritage? Who taught the boy Jesus? A clown with a puppet on his hand? No, the parents taught the children. And of course the Rabbis. If our fathers in the faith(and even our Lord Himself) could learn from old, boring bearded men-why do we think that today we know better? Do we really have the guts to say that our kids have the same spiritual fortitude as the young Daniel or Samuel? Why not? I submit that we have forfeited our standing as parents and teachers of the children and given it over to the world disguised as a sheep.

This brings me to my second point regarding Veggie Tales. Where in the Bible do you find a command to have your children taught by fictional characters and foolish images? Isn't this idolatry? Think of the millions of dollars fed into Veggie Tales and such each year. Wouldn't that money be better spent feeding homeless children, sponsoring orphans of third world countries and supporting Christian organizations that actually preach the Gospel to unbelieving kids? Do you not think it a reproach to God to spend that money instead on believing children who most likely have all their physical needs being met? And what about this-what happens when your child grows up and learns that Peter Rabbit isn't real. What happens when he comes to the age where he realizes that pickles don't talk and sing. Isn't there a strong possiblity that the child will also equate the message of the pickle as being fictional as well? In other words, if Mother Goose isn't real, perhaps that Jesus she spoke of isn't real either(she does tell fairy tales, does she not?). Please think about these things! Let's move on to South Park.

South Park

Now, admittedly South Park does have cussing and raunchy elements. But hey, guess what-that is to be expected! The creators of South Park are not attempting to evangelize anyone and as far as I know they are not Christians. This is what it means to be secular. Even though we can recognize talent and gifting in the secular world, it will never directly lead anyone to Christ. It is unable to! Think about Eric Clapton. He is a talented guitar player. His ability is a gift from God. It is a tainted gift because he as with all of us have the image of God marred within us- but it is a gift nonetheless.

So I say South Park has more integrity than Veggie Tales because South Park does not try to be what it is not. South Park is entertainment and that is all! But again as Christians we try to mix the two. When I go to a secular rock concert I can enjoy myself because I know what it is I am going to. But when I go to a Christian rock concert I am grieved. There is buying and selling. There is shameless self-promotion and a grand attempt to be just like the secular concerts-but with a big fish slapped on it. On top of that I have to listen to the words of the songs with a grain of salt because most Christian bands teach sloppy or even false doctrine in their lyrics. Do you see the point I am trying to make? Sacred is for the church-hymns, choruses, sermons, prayer, etc., Secular is for the world-marketing,slogans,profit,etc., When the two are mixed you have a watered down Gospel or a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I can't even begin to imagine the kind of email I will receive for this article. But for those of you who would take me to task I would ask you first to have Bible verses at the ready. Since you condone this mixing of sacred and secular the burden is upon you to defend it scripturally. Please show me(without verses out of context) where God commands you to either delegate the spiritual teaching of your child to the ways of the world. If I am wrong I will be glad to apologize. But I suspect that I am more right in this than any of us want to admit. For in doing so we have to acknowledge a greater problem in the church-that we have accomodated the world and its approach to make our Gospel more acceptable. I pray to be corrected because I pray that this may not be so. Thanks for reading.