On Sing the Bible Volume 1, friendly monsters (and kids, and friendly bees) joined me in singing Deuteronomy 6:5.
On Sing the Bible Volume 2, Dracula and Frankenstein dropped by the studio again and joined me for our Ten Commandments song.
(On Sing the Bible Volume 3, they are likely taking a break from the studio, though I’m sure they’ll be back eventually.)
Over the years, I’ve been asked about those choices a few times, usually by someone who thought it seemed strange – maybe even wrong – to include something as silly or as scary as “monsters” on a CD about the Bible.
And I totally get it. It is kind of strange.
Then, a few weeks ago, I received a very thoughtful email that prompted me to gather my thoughts for a reply. Since I’ve just (today!) released the video for our Ten Commandments song, I thought today would be a good day to share that reply here.
About the monsters, I’m glad you asked this very fair question. On a practical theological level, I handle it like Veggie Tales handles Bob and Larry, avoiding the issue of salvation for them because they are not real, of course.
As I’m sure you know, mild scariness is one of the ways we introduce the concept of danger to kids – through games like peek-a-boo and “I’m gonna get you!” chase games. Ironically, it’s (of course) also one of the ways we have fun.
For me, reared as I was on Sesame Street (Cookie Monster, The Count, and Grover’s “The Monster at the End of this Book” come to mind) – it is easy for me to use monsters for mildly scary / humorous purposes.
That said, there are deeper message at work. First, do not fear… maybe the Bible’s most frequent admonition. Also, things are not always as they seem. What may at first seem monstrous may prove otherwise, so be slow to judge.
Third, I’m thinking of the great passage from Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton about bogeys and dragons… his point was that fairy tales show that there is something stronger than darkness. In all of the way S&B uses monsters, it is with a similar spirit – that the context of the Gospel overwhelms fear.
Finally, I go back to examples like Sesame Street’s Grover and Bugs Bunny’s abominable snowman. By incorporating “monsters” into fun settings, we bring them onto our level, which allows not only freedom from fear but the beginning of empathy for the “other.” (These are friendly monsters!) And after all, no one I encounter daily is completely evil. most everyone I meet is a mixed bag (like me)!
I wouldn’t say monsters belong in songs about the Bible, though I might say they are already there. With another nod to G.K. Chesterton, “I” am what is wrong with the world. If there are monsters, then they are inside me, and inside you. Thank God in Heaven for the terrible and merciful and ultimate victory on the cross. His victory sets us free to live lives of love and self-forgetfulness. Because of Christ, we are monsters no more.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
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