Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Sesame Street is Undermining Biblical Values

I was surprised to see last week's article by Owen Strachan talking about an episode of Sesame Street in which Baby Bear (who is male) plays with a baby doll. Telly the monster tells Baby Bear this is dumb, but resident wise sage Gordon tells him it's okay. Like this:

Baby Bear: It’s a doll 
Gordon: So?!
Baby Bear: So…Gordon…I’m a boy, and dolls are for girls!
Gordon: Says who?

Strachan explains that this is the undermining of Protestant values, because boys shouldn't be taught to play with dolls, and that after this confusing message from Gordon, Baby Bear needs the Gospel.

While I sympathize with Strachan's concern that boys might grow up to be nurturing fathers, both he and Sesame Street are missing the point.

The fact is, Baby Bear should not be playing with baby dolls. He is a bear. And socializing him with humans (let alone human babies) can only bring grief.

I know, you might think I'm overreacting, but the Bible is very clear on the role of bears in human relationships. They are meant to be voracious killing machines. I mean, the ONE COMMAND God gives specifically to bears is to "Arise and devour much flesh." This attempt to anthropomorphize and humanize bears strikes at the heart of everything the gospel teaches about bears.

If Sesame Street hadn't completely capitulated to heretical ursine views, the conversation between Baby Bear and Gordon should have gone something like this:

Baby Bear: It’s a doll.
Gordon: So?!
Baby Bear: So…Gordon…I’m a boy, and dolls are for girls!
Gordon: No, you're not a boy. You're male, but boys are human. You're a male bear cub. Now put that doll down and tear into it with your teeth. That's right, really rip into it. Pull the head off... good! Good bear! Now go for the entrails!

Or, even more correct:

Baby Bear: Grrrr.
Gordon: A baby bear? Here in New York City? I'm calling Animal Control!
Baby Bear: Rawr!
Gordon: Ahhh! Stop with the biting! Ahhhh! Why won't it listen? Is it a boy or a girl bear? Ahhhh! 

I, for one, take this issue seriously in my family and at the organization I head up, The Council on Biblical Interactions Between Humans and Animals.

In fact, because of Teddy Roosevelt's (the Dutch Reformed Episcopalian President) undermining of the scriptural role of bears in the family, I have been training my own children in the godly way to interact with bears. I include a few instructive photos here for all the parents:

One, teach your child that cuddling her teddy bear is not appropriate. Should she come across a real bear, the bears would either smother her when they roll over, or possibly eat her.

And don't get me started on the "rainbow" bear.

Second, kissing bears is right out. They will eat your face off. Do not allow your children to kiss their teddy bears.

Especially don't kiss bears named "Pooh."
There's a reason they're called that.

This is the correct way to play with teddy bears (or any bears at all). Lay on the ground, roll into a ball and play dead. Even if they are leaning in close to your face, about to take a big bite.

This looks easy, but is much harder with real bears.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should one attempt to lift a bear by its hind legs. You will probably get a hernia and/or be swiped by its claws, smashed beneath it, eaten or mauled.

In real life, that paint-spattered bear would be
devouring much flesh, just as God intended.

I've also taught all three of my daughters this helpful proverb: "Never go to a teddy bear picnic because you just might be on the menu."

You can see what others are saying about this conversation in a variety of places:

My friend Caryn Rivadeneira's thoughts.
Some thoughts from a preschool teacher. (ETA: Oops. Kristen is not a preschool teacher. She's a paralegal But it's still a good read.)
Rachel Held Evans has a good post where people from both sides of the question are having a civil conversation on the topic.

There are a bunch more out there, too. No one mentions the bear angle, but that's why you come here... FOR HARD HITTING JOURNALISM THAT ISN'T AFRAID TO CALL IT LIKE IT IS!

Now, in the comments: How are you preparing YOUR children for the coming Bearpocalypse?

46 comments:

  1. Way to tackle this issue with a totally unexpected yet potentially life-saving perspective.

    Any children of mine will be thoroughly coached in the use of sensitive language toward bald-headed prophets; this should forestall the bulk of all bear attacks headed their way.

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    1. Yes, well. Bears will still attack if you try to cuddle their cubs. But teaching respect for bald prophets is to be encouraged.

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  2. I'm with Beth - I think the principal urso-centric lesson of the Bible is that you should never, ever mock cranky old prophets who might sic bears on you.

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    1. That's because you're a Biblical literalist. :)

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    2. Well, and also because I minored in Bearly Studying back in college. That's right, I earned an Ursa Minor.

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  3. Time for a new cup of coffee and a fresh shirt. Thank you, sir.

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  4. As for preparation, we already keep our food in a bag slung over a tree limb (keeps the dog out of it, too), so we're good.

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  5. Thank you, Matt. I have taken the appropriate steps in my own household to educate my kids on how to handle unexpected teddy bear attacks. We are using this as a means for training against the inevitable Bearpocalypse.

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    1. You are welcome. It's amazing how many people haven't even heard the term "bearpocalypse."

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  6. haha, this was great man

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  7. I find your theology to be WAY off here. How can you tell your children and others to avoid ursine relations when Colossians 3:13 CLEARLY instructs us to "BEAR with each other..."? Who's the heretic (bearetic?) now?!?!

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    1. We've now entered the "let's see who is better at Greek" portion of our argument. :)

      P.S. My name is Greek so I have the upper hand here.

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  8. I loved this post and appreciate the link to mine! I'm not a preschool teacher, however. Perhaps you got me mixed up with a preschool teacher that I quoted in that post? (I'm actually a paralegal and think that if this bear problem is as bad as you say, we need to pass some more laws to protect our innocent children against the deceitfulness of stuffed-toy manufacturers who are clearly only out to make a profit.)

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    1. Yikes. Sorry about that. I added a note to clarify and correct. I'm glad to hear that someone in the legal community is taking this bear thing seriously.

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  9. Wonderful insights!

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  10. mattmikalatos9:56 PM

    I'm experimenting with adding disqus onto the blog for comments. If you made comments on here earlier they should update sometime in the next 24 hours or so....

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  11. Sam Mockford7:10 AM

    You need to make a brief little post-Sesame-Street-PSA. Countless lives will be saved.

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  12. mattmikalatos8:00 AM

    You are correct. I'll work on it. :)

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  13. mattmikalatos8:01 AM

    Ok, the new comment system is on but it didn't thread the imported comments. Don't be confused by the weird order of comments. Threading should work from here on in.

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  14. Matt, I agree whole-heartedly.
    Wild animals symbolize Satan in the gospel story. We can see that from a text like “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
    In Gen 3:15, God said the snake (which stands for dangerous animals in general) will be at war with the woman.  We violate clear Biblical principles, and deny the gospel, when we allow bears to play at not ripping up children, or children to play with teddy bears.
    Some people may think that this is trivial, but as one of the drafting members of the Danvers statement on Biblical animalhood and humanhood, I know that this undermines the very foundation of Protestant society. God will bless the species if they play their roles (humans play the church, wild animals play Satan) in a Godly manner, but the world is cursed because of Godless messages like these, which are even aimed at children nowadays.
    It even leads to anthropomorphism and people behaving like animals, blurring the distinct species roles God has created.

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  15.  


    i read that article and
    about swallowed my teeth. I am reading them the book, "We are going on a
    bear hunt". I hope it will teach them to run away when they see a real
    bear

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  16. I have no children (am not even married)--*gasp*, so naturally I can be of no help in preparing the next generation for the bearpocaypse (and clearly, of course, am in direct violation of the natural Protestant order of things), but I do thank you for being that voice crying in the wilderness on this important but seldom-prophesied-on issue.

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  17. I was BEARly able to stop reading this, some of the points her seem to BEAR up under the weight of scrutiny. The Teddy BEAR industry may bring unBEARable ligation to you for  what they may call BEARphobia.   

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  18. For those taking this post literally, please notice the tags "satire"  and "funny" above.

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  19. mattmikalatos12:05 PM

    AHHHH! THE PUNS HAVE BEGUN! First sign of the Bearocalypse!

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  20. mattmikalatos12:06 PM

    Well, you know the old saying... it's not funny if you have to tell them it's funny. I tried, though. :)

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  21. mattmikalatos12:06 PM

    That's a great book. I heartily approve.

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  22. mattmikalatos12:17 PM

    Ha ha ha. For the longest time I was reading your comment and trying to figure out if you were serious! It's like taking some of my own medicine. Well done.

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  23. mattmikalatos12:17 PM

    Thanks, Brian. And thanks for the shout out to Rachel, too. I appreciate it!

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  24. Wesley Peck2:10 PM

    There are a strong few who have been preparing!

    http://bearmageddon.com/

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  25. Marta L5:31 PM

    Any children of mine will be thoroughly coached in the use of sensitive language toward bald-headed prophets; this should forestall the bulk of all bear attacks headed their way.It's been a long time since I've laughed that hard. Thanks for this.

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  26. Marta L5:33 PM

    Matt, thank you for this. We as Christians so often take topics like this seriously --too seriously-- and it is good to take a step back and laugh.

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  27. Everything I said spoofed the ideas of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), where Strachan is a bigwig.

    Wild animals symbolize Satan in gospel story: CBMW say man symbolize Jesus and women the church.
    The curse in Genesis used to defend species roles: Many CBMW people use the curse in Genesis to defend gender roles. (Why I disagree can be found here: http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/christian-myths-on-gender-and-gender-roles/myth-god-said-adam-should-rule-eve/ )Danvers statement on Biblical animalhood and humanhood: The CBMW confession is the Danvers statement on Biblical manhood and womanhood.Undermining the foundation of Protestant society is straight from Strachan's Sesame street article.http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/christian-myths-on-gender-and-gender-roles/myth-god-said-adam-should-rule-eve/ )Danvers statement on Biblical animalhood and humanhood: The CBMW confession is the Danvers statement on Biblical manhood and womanhood.Undermining the foundation of Protestant society is straight from Strachan's Sesame street article.Leads to anthropomorphism: CBMW believes that society leads in the direction of androgyny when their rules are not followed.Distinct species roles: CBMW is all about distinct gender roles.

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  28. I can't find and edit button, but that came out wrong. You can delete that one and leave this: Everything I said spoofed the ideas of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), where Strachan is a bigwig.Wild animals symbolize Satan in gospel story: CBMW say man symbolize Jesus and women the church.The curse in Genesis used to defend species roles: Many CBMW people use the curse in Genesis to defend gender roles. (Why I disagree can be found here: http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/christian-myths-on-gender-and-gender-roles/myth-god-said-adam-should-rule-eve/ )Danvers statement on Biblical animalhood and humanhood: The CBMW confession is the Danvers statement on Biblical manhood and womanhood.
    Undermining the foundation of Protestant society is straight from Strachan's Sesame street article.Leads to anthropomorphism: CBMW believes that society leads in the direction of androgyny when their rules are not followed. Distinct species roles: The CBMW views revolve round distinct gender roles.http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/christian-myths-on-gender-and-gender-roles/myth-god-said-adam-should-rule-eve/ )Danvers statement on Biblical animalhood and humanhood: The CBMW confession is the Danvers statement on Biblical manhood and womanhood.
    Undermining the foundation of Protestant society is straight from Strachan's Sesame street article.Leads to anthropomorphism: CBMW believes that society leads in the direction of androgyny when their rules are not followed. Distinct species roles: The CBMW views revolve round distinct gender roles.

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  29. Retha Faurie11:02 PM

    I don't know why this keeps on duplicating parts of my post. Everything from the second link (which is a duplicate) can be deleted.)

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  30. mattmikalatos6:46 AM

    Thanks, Marta! I'm glad you enjoyed it. 

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  31. mattmikalatos6:46 AM

    YES! At last someone who takes the gospel about bears seriously.

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  32. mattmikalatos6:47 AM

    Thanks, Retha. I'm not sure how to change that, but appreciate your comments!

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  33. Thanks, Brother Bear er, Matt for baring the truth about bears. 

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  34. Amanda B.4:43 AM

    Surely this is just the early signs of our coming grizzly demise. I shall retreat to my cub-by hole until it all blows over. This is serious business; we can't afford to Pooh-Pooh it.

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  35. mattmikalatos12:29 PM

    A pleasure, sir. 

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  36. mattmikalatos12:30 PM

    Fur real.

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