A Veggie Shall Lead Them
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
-- I recently purchased another Veggie Tales video for
my children. I think I enjoy "Bob the Tomato" and "Larry the Cucumber"
(or is he a pickle?) as much, or perhaps even more than my children
Of course, I am of the opinion that computerized vegetables will
lead Christian artists into the 21st century.
"Hold it," you're saying. "Stop the music (to do it right you
need to use a thick British accent and sport a monocle). How will
a bunch of silly, animated garden spuds lead the way?"
it's like this (now use a somewhat high-pitched voice with a slight
lisp). Phil Vischer and his mad-capped band at Big Idea Productions,
creators of Veggie Tales, have become very successful in
their computerized, countertop world. Whether it's a giant fib
from outer space who grows with every lie -- an asparagus who
saves the "USS Apple Pies" -- or a dancing cucumber, singing in
Spanish and taunting a tomato who can't dance or sing -- Veggie
Tales is art that has captured the attention of both the Christian
and secular world.
So what is the big idea? What is it that the Veggie Bunch is
doing right that other Christian artists should be running through
their salad shooters?
A positive message -- The days of Christian artists being
confined to painting religious frescos in the chapel have long
since passed. Don't get me wrong -- all Christians are called
to evangelize. But not every Christian is called to be an evangelist.
Do we expect our dentist to share Christ with every patient?
-- "Gargle, spit, and repeat this prayer after me."
Should a police officer read the four spiritual laws before reading
a criminal his or her rights?
Why then do we, in the Church, expect that every artist should
be required to be an evangelist? What is wrong with good, old-
fashioned art for art's sake?
I believe excellent art reflects Christ just as much as an excellent
If the Church would give Christian artists some grace, and a
market, we would begin to see art that would rival and exceed
anything the world is producing.
Besides, it is usually a person that leads someone to Christ,
isn't it -- not a song, painting, or even a tomato (which, as
my 7-year-old son explained to me, is technically not a vegetable
-- but we won't let the Big Idea people know that we know that).
art -- Through the centuries, Christian artists mirrored the
excellence of God's creation by producing great art. In the late
19th century, however, Christians were taught a distortion of
the Gospel message when preachers implored them to "come out from
them and be ye separate." In all spheres of influence Christians
were encouraged to separate themselves from the sinful world.
Instead of shining the light, many Christians were hiding it
under a basket and casting stones.
As a result, at the dawn of such powerful technologies as radio,
motion pictures and television, Christian artists had excused
themselves from the table. A shift by Christians back to artistic
excellence began in the 1960s, but we have a long way to go to
compete once again with the world.
The good news is that it is happening -- in music, literature,
film, television, video, and yes, even the Internet, it's happening.
State-of-the-art technology -- In order to present a credible
message, Christian artists must be willing to purchase and utilize
cutting-edge technology. The Gospel is the Gospel -- it doesn't
need packaging. But art needs to be done in a manner that will
attract people's attention.
We live in a media-savvy world. Christians must be sophisticated
Good stories - Memorable stories, in any medium, are essential
to conveying a message. Jesus understood this. Dickens understood
this. Spielberg understands this.
In Amistad, a movie produced and directed by Steven Spielberg,
John Quincy Adams tells a man, 'You don't know someone based on
where they're from --you know them based on their story.' Spielberg
is a master storyteller.
Veggie Tales succeeds because Vischer and his group are
also master storytellers.
Veggie Tales has heart. Veggie Tales has passion.
Veggie Tales is, in short, excellent art. Sure, it's art
for kids, but it is art, nonetheless. And if adults pay attention,
there is always an underlying message (and quite a bit of humor)
designed for the parents as well.
If singing and dancing vegetables can succeed, just think what
possibilities are available to other Christian artists.
I want your feedback. What is your
favorite Veggie Tales video? Why do you like it? Why
is Veggie Tales so popular? Send me your e-mail
from Craig von Buseck on CBN.com
Craig von Buseck in Ministries Director for CBN.com. He is a
graduate of Regent University's College of Communication and School of Divinity.
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