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Monday, July 21, 2008
Switching the Scriptural paradigm in Worship




Extract:  to remove or take out, esp. by effort or force.

Immerse:  to dip or submerge in a liquid.  

EXTRACTION
Consider Veggie Tales. Sometimes the episodes are titled with captions like Who is my neighbor? Or King George and the Ducky. Other episodes pick up story lines such as Josh and the Big Wall and the Toy that Saved Christmas. Either way, the aim seems to be the development of a theme from which a relevant principle is extracted and urged for application in the child’s life. (Perhaps the child will write this principle in the inside cover of their Bible negating their need to read the story any more.) While the writers strive for faithfulness to the biblical text, a lot gets lost in the translation. For instance, the story of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednigo becomes Rack, Shack and Benny. They work in a chocolate factory mercilessly operated by Mr. Nezzar (presumably playing the part of Nebudchanezzar). Instead of the three being required to worship a large idol, it’s a gargantuan chocolate bunny. Each episode ends with the narrators, Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato visiting Qwerty, the computer, who tells all the children what the story really means for them. Qwerty sings,

“Let’s see how what we have learned applies to our lives today. God has a lot to say in his book. . . . ."


On the whole, the goal is to bring the bible truth ala story into the imaginative world of a child.


IMMERSION:
But why not bring the child into the imaginative world of the bible? Herein lies the agenda of the Hanna Barbera series. Each episode begins on location at an archaeological dig site in modern day Israel. The narrator then rehearses this story:

While surveying the site of some ancient ruins two young archaeologists, Derek and Margo, and their nomad friend Mokey find themselves trapped and falling in a whirling pool of sinking sand. When the dust settles they stare up in awe at a vast chamber filled with giant relics and artifacts from another civilization; and there at the far end of the cavern a door with a strange inscription: All who enter these portals pass through time.


From here, each episode finds the three junior archaeologists journeying alongside the characters of a particular Bible story. Transported into the world of the bible story, the kids observe the story unfold while inquiring and interacting with its characters. The animated, ancient story comes alive with the glory of God. As the story is sown like seed into the memory of children, their little minds and hearts go to work, germinating imaginative possibilities , both ordinary and supernatural, of the creative love and power of God.  (The Hanna Barbara series has its weaknesses, though according to some commentators, though it is beyond the relevance of this use of the series.)

QUESTION:  So how is it that worship design has traded in story immersion for theme extraction?  And how do we get back?  

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posted by John David Walt | at 7/21/2008 06:07:00 AM

 

3 Comments:

Blogger JAy. said...

Never thought about Veggie Tales like this. (Have to admit I am not familiar with the other series, though.)

What might be scarier is that if we are "extracting" in worship services, are we also targeting the Veggie Tales audience (pre-schoolers?). I hope not!

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Rob said...

not a lot of need for discussion on this one, jd...you kind of hit the nail on the head. extraction isn't bad, and is probably a good "changeup" once in a while. it can serve as a parable to real life from time to time. but it should not be the predominant way in which we encounter God.

5:18 PM EDT  
Anonymous guy m williams said...

This is one of my favorite items you've lifted up here (and in previous conversations) JD. Veggie Tales is a good example of the extraction paradigm prevalent in many of our "biblical" congregations.

It seems to me that this is an example of our biblical hermeneutics and our worship paradigms running parallel. This is good, since the Story in the text should be the story enacted in worship.

1:06 AM EDT  

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