Taking Veggie Tales waaaaay too seriously.

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything is a cute Veggie Tales movie, with plenty of intentional funny moments (and quite a few unintentional ones if you’re feeling sarcastic). I’m told that I look like Larry dressed up as a pirate (I’m not sure if this is a compliment or not), and we’re not sure if the blind character is a leek or something else. We watched it last night with our son, and there was something about it that bothered me, though.

Um, there are vague spoilers here – but nothing you shouldn’t expect if you’re at all familiar with VT at all. (We’re talking along the lines of “Disney movies end happily” spoilers.)

Unlike the Veggie Tales half-hour spots, there was no explicit references to Christianity (though it was a pretty direct and obvious analogy). That wasn’t a big deal for us, nor was the primary moral (it’s VT, of course there’s a moral) of “Just because you’re called someone lowly doesn’t mean you can’t be a hero.”

The problem I had was with the King (I *told* you the analogies are obvious) telling our protagonists this:

“I gave you everything you needed to succeed. All you had to do was to try hard enough.”

Okay, I’m roughly paraphrasing, but that’s the basic idea. My wife missed it, but it caught my attention. There’s a “good” lesson there – “Don’t assume you can’t do things” – but the flip side of it is a wee bit more … evil.

The flip side can be best expressed as “If you fail, it’s just because you didn’t try hard enough.” Or for a more explicitly religious tone: “If you truly believe and pray, the good things you want will happen.”

I’ve met people who completely lost their faith because of this. They prayed for a loved one to get well, they prayed for success, they believed as hard as they could that everything would work out.

And then the loved one dies, the business fails. Things don’t work out. And it’s not because of an illness, it’s not because of a recession, it’s not because of any of a dozen reasons.

It’s because THEY didn’t pray hard enough; THEY didn’t believe hard enough.

That kind of literal translation between degree of faith and material success is a big mistake. It presumes that your plans are the same as the Divine’s plans.

In case anyone forgot, Yeshua’s ministry didn’t “succeed” in anything like a traditional sense. But even within the Christian tradition, that *lack* of success was part of the Plan.

This is where we can re-invigorate Christianity by looking to Eastern faiths. Buddhism and Taoism look to reduce “attachment” to things and goals – to accept things as they are. The Christian equivalent is accepting things as part of an ineffable plan – and really, truly believing that the plan *is* ineffable.

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