|I looked worse than this.|
I try to be bigger than this, honest I do, and I love VBS. Every year my kids like it and they come home with good insights about the topic of the week. And this year's probably had the best "take home" CD of songs yet...catchy and fun and some were even theologically touching and deep. Then there were two songs near the end....
In order not to publicly humiliate the artist of this song, I am not going to name it, or him, or the VBS program. But for goodness sakes, I have been having a running debate with this song, which my kids want to listen to every day, for nine weeks straight. (If you are thinking, hey, you're the parent, turn it off, remember that the rest of the album is great and I am usually in the middle of helping a child potty train or something). I have officially snapped. At least my mental cry of theological anguish may entertain you.
This song is about St. Peter, and has a rousing go go go! refrain. By the end of the song, I only wish I could. It begins like this:
Hello folks, my name's Pete
Gonna tell you a story with a brand new beat!
--I realize that opening line is enough to make the trad readers out there howl like wolves. But hey, they're little kids, and I'm OK with the light touch for something like VBS.
Out on the sea fishing one day
and a man walked across the water to say
"Go do the work of the Lord"
--OK, not to get literalist, but this isn't doing anything for Catholics' general rep as slackers in scripture studies. Jesus walks on water after the disciples have been called, not as a first meeting. I know it cuts down on the drama, but see, it has the advantage of being accurate.
"What? How?" I ask
walking cross the water's an impossible task.
He came over, gave me his arm,
and said "Pete--I'll keep you safe from harm--
--Well, gee, Peter's crucifixion must have come as a particularly nasty surprise to him. Jesus NEVER SAID I'LL KEEP YOU SAFE FROM HARM. I know this may be hard teaching to tender young second graders, but still, you shouldn't be planting falsehoods in the mouth of Jesus. How about "Pete--you gotta trust me now--go do the work of the Lord." That works! Even inserting "la la la la la la" would be less nuts than making up a brand new theology for the tot crowd. What's he been listening to, Joel Osteen sermons?
--Go Do the Work of the Lord."
Refrain: Go Go--St Peter Go--Go Go--be the Rock--Go Go--St Peter Go and Do the Work of the Lord!
(Yeah, fine. It's OK and its catchy. Moving on)
I said yes, I'd follow that man
and so did 11 of my best friends,
(I don't know that they were best buds before meeting Jesus, but OK, maybe it refers to friendship afterward.)
The soldiers came and took him away
and as he hung on the cross, I heard him saaaaaaaaaaay--
--PETE, YOU DIDN'T HEAR HIM SAY SQUAT! You weren't there! You ran away! The cock crowed three times and then you wept bitterly? Are you holding that last note for three measures to help you remember something you didn't witness? What, were you bilocating?
"Go Do the Work of the Lord!"
No, it was "I thirst" and "Father, forgive them" and "Father, Into your hands I commit my spirit." But hey, close enough! Not.
Spoken: Hey Kids, how do YOU do the work of the Lord?
Kids speak: Do my homework! (Singer: Sure!)
Wash the dishes! (Singer: Good one!)
Clean my room! (Singer: That's right!)
--While I appreciate the not so subtle help in getting my kiddos to help more around the house and do their work, unless he is going all "Therese's little way" on me, I wouldn't call this sort of thing the work of the Lord. At least, not as a first teaching. Oh, but it gets better:
Brush my teeth! (Singer: Brush my teeth?!)
--Well, what the freaking heck. If we're making cleaning the house the work of the Lord, brushing teeth ought to count too! We're taking care of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Cleaning bodies works as well as washing the dishes, right??!!! p.s. flossing is not the work of the Lord, though. It's just a pain.
--finally, we have one winner, although I am surprised we're not praying about cleaning the house at this point. You know, here's my list of what I'd like kids to learn in a song like this: Be kind to other kids! Help the poor! Tell people about God! Love your enemies! Pray! Would that have been so hard?
(...as I twitch uncontrollably.)
I don't know what the moral of this rant is other than I desperately want someone to feel my pain. This ain't martyrdom but it ain't pretty either, day after day after day. And someone, write some theologically good VBS music. It can be done. But this isn't it.
And also, my second grader walked up to me last week and said "You know, Mom, that song's crazy. Those things aren't really the best work of the Lord. Martha was told to sit and listen to Jesus." God bless my second grader and our very messy house. Amen.