Thursday, November 1, 2007

Deb Takes On Vision Forum -- Gasp, and She's a Home Schooler!!!

At what point did Christianity become something the we allow lawyers and other crafty professionals to pander?

I ask myself that question often. I also ask myself, "When did I miss the national evangelical meeting where we all voted James Dobson our spokesman?" But that's a different story.

I ponder the first question often, because, after seeing how the church works in a couple other cultures, I noticed just how much "stuff" we have that we sell as "christian" here. For instance, take a stroll into your local Christian bookstore (likely violating a Sabbath near you!) and you'll most certainly find the product "testamints". While "testamints" have been useful in providing much humorous fodder in our home, it's hard for me to find much value beyond that.

"I used to be angry towards you," I confessed to my husband one evening, "But since I ate this mint that said, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" my anger has dissolved, and I'm able to forgive you!"

"Well, that's good, because I just ate one that reminded me that, "Its better to live on the corner of a roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."

Thank the Lord for those good old Testamints! Always wanting to stay just this side of judgemental, I decided that I should think of ways that Testamints might be used for evangelism. So, I thought and thought. But, here's the rub.... when you give someone a mint, there already is a subtle message involved, and it isn't scriptural.

"Bud, you need to clean up your breath!"

So, I'm not sure that testamints would be the route to go when trying to spread the gospel.

Another issue are all the Christian toys.

I'm fond of the "Press and Praise Phone" offered through many Christian distributors. You press a button and it says things like "Praise God!". I find that weird because our real phone NEVER says that! But I'm sure that this phone was created because all the ones from secular stores must say offensive things like, "Hello!" Our children are very confused because our toy phone answers in Russian and says "Kak Dila" which to them sounds like, "Godzilla" -- and he's an evil monster than might cause our children to reject their faith. It's a wonder our family has survived as long as it has! We need to replace our toy phone, and the sooner the better!

For those of us who find "My Little Pony" offensive, never fear because we can buy our children, "Love Ponies". Love Ponies look exactly like their secular counterparts, but they are just much more moral -- somehow, in some way. There are also smaller versions called Praise Ponies and Faith Ponies. Wow, I bet none of them were made in sweatshops in China! I mean I bet they're all Fair Trade Certified! All this is for not, though, as my oldest daughter finds them offensive because they're pink, lavender and fluffy, and nobody, Christian or not, should do that to something as beautiful as a horse.

One that I got bilked on were the Resurrection Eggs. Believe it or not, many years ago, I paid $15 for a carton of plastic Easter eggs that contained: 1 small rock, a tiny plastic donkey, plastic praying hands, a spear shaped eraser, a small strip of white cloth, nothing (to remind me of the empty tomb!), a small metal crown of thorns, a die, small leather strip, a small 1/2 of a wine cup and nails. We do still use those little icons, but I realized after they arrived in the mail that I could've assembled the same things for well under $5. Especially the "nothing" to remind me of the empty tomb!

But here, it starts getting a little creepy. A large national organization called "Vision Forum" has designed many toys necessary to raising moral children.

If you are so inclined, you can choose to buy for your daughter, for about $40 a dress, costumes to pretend to be Dolly Madison or Nan Harper (from the Titanic) for their creative play time. Or, since they are so liberal, you can avoid the American Girl Dolls and buy your daughter the Liberty Doll, The Abigail Doll, The Evangeline Doll or the Fidelia doll. All 4 can be hers for a mere $250! That way, as you teach her to follow the homeless man from Nazareth she can play in a far morally superior way! Once she's done there, she can follow it up with a tea party on her $55 tea set! She can even use her "child's wooden baking set" to bake some cookies to go with the tea. But, make sure,as they play "upper class American" they always say grace first!

Meanwhile, your boys can be out having fun! They can be a cowboy that spends his days killing Indians with his western six shooter, and have outdoor adventures, solve mysteries and even go to a museum! Heaven forbid we encourage little girls to do those things! Have an adventure, I mean, because, obviously killing Indians is a good thing to do!

Yes, I'm sarcastic about this. In their defense, I've emailed Vision Forum several times and asked them the same question: How can you justify advocating spending so much money on a child's plaything when you profess to follow a man who gave up everything -- didn't even have a pillow on which to lay his head?

They have never responded, of course. They know a curmudgeon when they read one, so I'm sure there is no point.

However, I am left really wondering why so many home schooling parents continue to uncritically buy books, toys (how about the "covered wagon" you can purchase for $200?), and videos from an organization that defines itself by trying to moralize products that are morally neutral or gloss over the immoral acts within our national history? Or, has anybody ever noticed that they only publish stuff by themselves (or friends)? Does anybody notice the lack of the name of Jesus in what they pander??? Am I the only person insane enough to think these thoughts? Don't answer that last question. It was rhetorical.

What people like the vision forum and testamint people want is something formulaic. You do A, you honor God and get B. There is a required set of actions that bring a clear return. In the case of Vision Forum, Family is God. There is but one role for a man and but one role for a woman, and to stray from that is heresy. Our stuff, our freedom and our government all come second to that -- worth protecting even more than the right to lay down our lives for God's callings.

Of course, from a marketing standpoint, they've found the cleanest way to sell their products. My ideas are far too messy to market, which is okay with me.

I happen to think that my, and my children's history, is not a wholly American lineage. As I teach my children history, I try to connect them to their real christian heritage, one which certainly includes select Americans and points in American history, but really encompasses the story of the world and how God has worked through humanity, both good and bad, to redeem what was lost in the Garden of Eden. Vision Forum's concept of American history just doesn't jive with that.

To loosely quote John Steinbeck (somewhere in "Travels with Charley"), "If you're American, you're the descendant of a criminal, a convict or a misfit." So, upon reflection, I guess I need to go and ask my mom some questions about our ancestors.

1 comment:

MarlaQuack said...

Gee Deb, so do you feel strongly about these things?