I didn’t interview Phil Vischer, even if the title implies otherwise. The Sept. 24th edition of World Magazine has a lengthy interview with Phil Vischer, creator of Big Idea and Veggie Tales. Read the full article here.
I have been aware of Veggie Tales for years, and have seen several episodes. I watched Jonah (after it came out on DVD). Now with a 2-year-old in the house I have seen a lot more Veggie Tales… over and over again. I recently made this observation: all the stories revolve around Old Testament characters. There is always a moral to the story and a Bible verse at the end, but for all intents and purposes the whole thing could be just as Jewish as it is Christian. My wife pointed out they have an Easter Carol, but that’s the exception to the rule. A pretty recent exception at that. I’ve listened to church pastors do basically the same thing as Veggie Tales cartoons, and that’s use Old Testament Bible stories to teach a moral lesson. That’s why this statement from Vischer in the interview really popped for me:
I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.
Vischer’s new project is called Jellyfish Labs. It features puppet characters instead of cartoons. He describes it as “Muppets gone to seminary.” The interview is more about the failure of Big Idea than what Jellyfish is doing next, but I’m still looking forward to it. It apparently takes a long time to wear out a DVD.
UPDATE: Visit the Jellyfish Labs website and see what Phil’s been up to.